What they say:
“Hustling to develop a disruptive AI platform that’s crushing it among unicorns in the urban-transportation space.”
What it means:
“Living in an Uber, with an iPhone, next to a Starbucks outside San Jose.”
"Silicon Valley" was founded upon the hard-earned legacies of people like Andy Grove, Gordon Moore, and Bob Noyce; but has apparently degenerated into the hoodie-sporting, scooter-riding, bio-hacking, unicorn-puffing, capital-spraying, meal-skipping, juice-squeezing, botox-injecting, tech-bro-centric dipshit Olympics.
It seems that party's going to be over soon.
Market cap and/or up-round "valuations" really don't mean shit unless somebody is buying an entire company. Otherwise, that "unicorn" status might simply mean that some bit player paid way too much for their latest tiny % equity holding. (Unless all shareholders can liquidate at a given price simultaneously, it's basically fiction, as increased supply would eat through the bid stack, devaluing subsequent shares transacted.) Even setting aside discounts and premiums, selling 10% for $10M is not the same as selling 100% for $100M. The guy with $10M might be looking for (or might be) the greater fool.
Odds of founding a unicorn:
Lifetime odds of dying from local meteorite, asteroid, or comet impact:
You are 24.18 X more likely to be killed by an asteroid.
First, quintessential bay bro hatches unicorn taxi app (all the while emphatically assuring everyone that it isn't a taxi app), thereby securing multi-billion-dollar valuation.
Next, a cloned Uber-spawn launches his scooter-sharing app, "here to disrupt — by any means necessary". A last-mile land grab to blow your VC mind (or, at least your nine-figure investment).
Now, I'm thinking ahead of the curve on last-yard transportation. That's right — Uber can get you across town, Bird can get you around the block, but who will deliver your ass from the front porch right to your couch?
Bunny, the fuzzy slipper-sharing app, is officially coming out of stealth mode. This Olympic-tier problem solving should fetch at least $100M pre-money.
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." — Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride
I have recently observed a number of social media posts where certain sales reps lament the lack of effort and “courtesy” exhibited by various prospects…
So, essentially, some “sales” person sent email spam, or cold called, or lied about “reconnecting” to hijack a prospect’s calendar, and the half-assed attempt wasn’t warmly welcomed (or *gasp* not acknowledged at all)? Then, they had sufficient time left over to whine on social media. This tells me they must not be very good at selling.
Sales is a statistical process, and those statistics are influenced by the competence of the salesperson.
I’ve worked with real salespeople. Real salespeople take time to thoroughly research their prospects, and their interests, and determine how those interests most likely align with the product or service being offered. This accomplishes two things: (1) it greatly increases the conversion ratio in sales, and (2) it wastes far less of everyone’s time.
You want a respectful response? Put in the work. Don’t tell me you thought that I, along with 20 million other random people, would be interested in a premium subscription to Facebook for Ferrets when I don’t even own a ferret. Don’t tell me you’re planning to reconnect when we haven’t ever met, and you have no idea who I am, or what might interest me. Don’t call incessantly to pitch fleet fueling services when I don’t even operate a fleet. In other words, don’t be a lazy moron – then maybe you’ll get my attention, perhaps earn a bit of professional courtesy, and actually sell something.
Many would assume that successful entrepreneurial outcomes are largely attributable to skill. Of course, we'd all like to think so - where's the equity in dumb luck? However, getting struck by lightning does not necessarily make one an expert on electricity. I've seen "successful" people fail miserably on subsequent attempts, and raging flakes hit highly publicized home runs (occasionally more than once). It's tiresome when somebody points to their sole metaphorical lottery win as evidence of superior skill and ability, versus demonstrating a track record that regularly defies the odds...
Don't be "that guy".
When did the definition of entrepreneurial "success" change to include (1) massive operating losses, funded by (2) excessive capitalizations, closing at (3) irrecoverable valuations? The unicorn groupies might assert that we 40-somethings just don't understand their "new" business models... (Well, one thing is certain - somebody doesn't understand business models.)
Sophisticated investors come across hundreds of doe-eyed dreamers every year, and, per brutal statistics, most of them are destined to fail. Yet, many of these dreamers behave as if it is their God-given right to be taken on faith.
One casual acquaintance habitually laments, voicing great frustration, that prospective investors just “don’t get” his business. (Years later, without much progress made, I might deduce that he doesn’t really understand his business either.) These arm-wavers and PowerPoint flippers are a dime a dozen; persistently shoving half-baked ideas into venture circles despite any real evidence that their “big idea” extends beyond a mediocre concept sketched on a napkin…
When their vague presentation craters within the first few slides, and the meeting degenerates into a lopsided Q&A (consisting mostly of Q’s without A’s), such entrepreneurs invariably get uncomfortable and annoyed. Rather than acknowledging their own lack of preparation, many of these entrepreneurs will defensively conclude that sophisticated investors are dream-killing assholes. They will then proceed to approach a number of other assholes, with the same sloppy pitch, and get essentially the same result.
Here’s the thing – it is not an investor’s job to believe you. In fact, healthy skepticism is the only thing standing between you, them, and some shared version of failure. It is your job to convince them, using facts and data, versus expecting them to choke down platitudes and jargon. If you go into pitches ill-prepared, you are not doing your job; and any investor relying on faith would not be doing theirs.
We think about business a lot. Sometimes, late at night, we even write a few things down...