One question that kept coming up this week was whether investors are more interested in a growth story or a path to profitability. Everyone, especially those from outside the U.S. are baffled by unicorns like Lyft and Uber that state in their respective prospectuses that they may never be profitable. As you can imagine the discussions and opinions on this topic are wide ranging.
In an age where hardly a week goes by without learning of another CEO that has misappropriated funds, lied about a product’s status, been accused of sexual harassment, discrimination, or hid a security breach from the public, can we afford to have CEOs and founders with unilateral control over businesses that can influence societies and governments so negatively? This got me thinking about the role of the board of directors in particular at the most nascent stage of company formation.
I recently turned down a former student of one of my BootCamps who asked me to be on his advisory board. I explained that it was not a statement of how I saw the business opportunity or him as an entrepreneur, but rather that I didn’t think I could be much help given both my location and lack of specific domain knowledge of his industry. Location is an important criteria especially if you need help building a team. Introductions to potential team members, investors, and customers is something an advisor should be able to do. If the proposed advisor’s network is in the northeast and you are located in Texas there is little that advisor can do to be of help.
Can free public education in America work? Sure, but are American’s willing to deal with some of the unintended consequences of this shift? First, let’s look at who goes to college in other countries. In Australia only 36% of college age students attend university. In the UK the number hit a peak recently at 49% and in Germany a mere 30% attend university. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 69% of U.S. college age students are enrolled in college! Why does this matter?
This week the world’s largest flexible-office company announced a strategic business model shift and is looking to accelerate growth through franchising. No I’m not talking about WeWork. I’m talking about Swiss-based IWG which manages office brands Regus, Spaces and No. 18. Until now IWG has leased office space, built it out, furnished it, and sublets the space at a mark up. To most of you this sounds like WeWork, but there are a few big differences between the two models going forward.
“On April 19th, 1775, a messenger reached Sudbury between 3 and 4am bringing news that British Regulars had left Boston the evening before and were headed westward, presumably to Concord where military supplies were garrisoned. Each Sudbury contingent heeded the call and took the most expedient route to what is now called Battle Road. The present day Sudbury Companies of Militia and Minute follow a route that approximates one of the routes. “
Companies without profits, or even visibility into when they might become profitable, are valued in the billions of dollars largely based on the belief that revenue growth will continue on a similar pace, market share will be gained, and eventually operations will become more efficient and generate cash flow and profits. Lyft has traded down almost 20% since going public. A recent article in Motley Fool blames short sellers, Wall Street analyst sentiment, and the Uber S1 as reasons for the recent swoon. The company itself is pointing the finger toward Morgan Stanley claiming that it is allowing pre-IPO investors to short sell. I find it interesting that no one has cited the business model itself.
Higher education has been facing financial struggles for some time now, but unlike many other industries has managed to slow roll disruption and the decline in the price charged to consumers. In fact, only healthcare services have outpaced the expenses related to college in the United States.
t was 1976 when the Meadowlands Raceway opened in East Rutherford, New Jersey. My father, who loved the horses, took my older brother and me to the races that night probably with the hope that we might bring him some luck. My father explained how the betting worked and asked us to choose a horse to win the next race. Not being educated handicappers we did what any kids our age would do, picked the horse with the coolest name – Ungawa!
Someone once said that any news is good news, but I’m not sure if Facebook would agree. In the last week the social media company has lost two key executives, live streamed the murders of innocent people in New Zealand, there are talks of criminal investigations into the data scandal, and its stock was downgraded by a Wall Street analyst. All of which resulted in a loss of approximately $37 billion in value.