We’ve been focusing a lot on exits recently. Some folks have asked “why celebrate”? So many are $30-$50mm exits, who cares? $30-$50mm exits = VCs dying = ecosystem dying… or so goes the logic.
Let me tell the story of Redknee. Redknee creates billing software for telecos. Started in the late 90s by 4 mid-20s, Waterloo grads who had worked at Telus & Nortel – Lucas Skoczkowski, Vishal Kothari, Dan Macdonald, and Rubens Rahim. Without taking any VC money, they IPO’d in 2007, raised something like $30-40mm out of the IPO, and now have a market cap of about $70mm. I.e. modest success, not great success.
Here is the list of who is where now from the early days at Redknee:
- Shailesh Lakhani – was director of operations, now VP at Sequoia India
- Shyam Sheth – product manager, then product manager at Google, now co-founder of Fixmo
- Tony Mak – was a sales engineer, moved on to VC side at OATV, now founder of Everpic (SF-based startup)
- Kristin McClement – was product management, now heads up product and super early employee at Payfone (hot New York startup)
- Bohdan Zabawskyj – was CTO, now CTO of a hot Toronto startup that I think I can’t name yet, and also advisor & investor to several other startups
- Jeff Zakrezewski – was a dev team lead, then was managing partner at 5-Mobile (acquired by Zynga), now Chief Architect Zynga Toronto
- Brian Glick – was a product manager, early guy and now lead product manager at YouTube
- Dalia Asterbadi – was marketing, now founder of RealSociable
- Jason Tham, Jason Yuen, Sean Kirby – product & development, now founding team at Nulogy
- Karthik Ramakrishnan – was a product manager & sales engineer, now heads up product at BluTrumpet and at HatchLabs/IAC/Xtreme
So let’s tally that up – 1 modestly successful startup equals roughly 6 new companies founded and 2 new startup investors and some other people in influential places. I am forgetting people as well.
Success begats success. Probably more than money begats success. And that is why we need to celebrate even the modest victories.