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One Thing Elon, Mark, and Jeff Have in Common | Built to Sell News

Three of the most storied entrepreneurs of our generation have one thing in common: They no longer own most of the company they founded:

  • Elon Musk owns around 23% of Tesla.
  • Mark Zuckerberg owns around 13% of Meta.
  • Jeff Bezos owns around 9% of Amazon.

They all decided they would prefer to own a small slice of an enormous pie rather than hoarding the whole thing.

This week’s Built to Sell Radio guest, Kevin O’Connor, took the same approach in building DoubleClick, which was eventually acquired by Google. By the time he sold DoubleClick, Kevin owned less than 5% of the shares. As he describes during the episode, DoubleClick was a huge financial win for him, but he had to get used to the fact that he had investors and they had rights.

At some point, if your goal is to build a unicorn, you will reach a fork in the road where, to continue to grow, you will need to share equity. It might be with a key employee, an angel investor, or an institutional one. It’s a crossroads that has wide-ranging implications.

If you own your company, you can do what you want with it. You can take your foot off the gas for a few years and enjoy your family. You can run trips and cars through your business like it’s a giant piggy bank, but the moment you take someone else’s money, you have an obligation to get them a return, which means trying to grow the pie to be as valuable as possible.

It’s a one-way road. Once you take someone else’s money, there is no going back. Legally and morally, you must build your business into the most valuable asset you can muster.

The fork in the road is coming. Which path will you take?

P.S. Kevin’s story will help you see the pros and cons of both.

 

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Quote of the Week

 

“There is nothing wrong with a small business, but there’s a difference between a small business and a large business.”
–  Kevin O’Connor

 

 

Clip of the Week

In this clip, Kevin O’Connor talks to entrepreneurs who are trying to decide whether to build a big business or stay small.

 

 

Deals

 

  • Squarespace, Inc., a company that helps entrepreneurs build their online brands, announced it has agreed to be acquired by Permira, a global private equity firm, in a deal valued at about $6.9 billion. This deal will take Squarespace private, meaning its shares will no longer be publicly traded. Shareholders of Squarespace will receive $44.00 per share in cash, which is 29% more than the average share price over the last 90 days, and 15% more than the closing price on May 10, 2024. This purchase values the company at around $6.6 billion in equity and $6.9 billion overall. After the deal is finalized, Squarespace will be a private company, giving it more opportunities to grow and serve entrepreneurs better.

 

  • SeaChange International, Inc., a company that provides Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) solutions that enable TV services via the Internet, has sold most of its IPTV-related assets to Enghouse Systems Limited. The deal was finalized for approximately $23 million. Currently, SeaChange’s expected annual revenues from these products are around $18 million.

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