The Entrepreneurs Dilemma

From Despair.com The Yahoo/Microsoft/Google saga consumes the blogosphere. When the NY Times weighs in with the kind of opinion piece Joe Nocera wrote this weekend, it indicates a whole new volume level. An excerpt:

Jerry, you’re a billionaire because people all over the world bought your stock, and trusted you to do right by them. That’s the compact you make when you take a company public: you get to be really rich, but in return, you have an obligation to do everything you can to ensure that shareholders get a healthy return on their investment. It doesn’t matter that you would like Yahoo to remain independent, or that you can’t stand Microsoft. Your feelings aren’t supposed to get in the way of your fiduciary duty.

A takeover by Microsoft was your last, best hope of rewarding your long-suffering shareholders. Now that opportunity is gone. It says here Mr. Icahn is not going to go as gently into the night as Mr. Ballmer did — and if I were a betting man, I would be taking odds that your days as Yahoo’s C.E.O. are numbered.

I am far from a serial entrepreneur but I have been on both sides of the stick (although in a much smaller and less public way thankfully.) I have been part of the acquired company and, later, I’ve bought companies and integrated them “into the fold.” Jerry Yang’s passion for keeping Yahoo out of Microsoft’s hands is very consistent with the entrepreneurs I’ve worked with in the past.

Here is the Dilemma: If you build something of worth, you will almost certainly require additional funds to make that happen. Once that happens it is no longer yours. If you build something and it isn’t taking off, no one (eventually including you) wants to be a part of it.

I sympathize for Jerry. That said, given the deep seated feelings he has for “his” Yahoo he probably should of ridden off into the sunset a while ago.

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