More on Leadership
1 year ago
Yahoo could have purchased Google for $1 billion
Let's see this once-dominant IT corporation crumble.
What's the capital of Kazakhstan? If you don't know the answer, you can probably find it by Googling. Google Search returned results for Nur-Sultan in 0.66 seconds.
Google is the best search engine I've ever used. Did you know another search engine ruled the Internet? I'm sure you guessed Yahoo!
Google's friendly UI and wide selection of services make it my top choice. Let's explore Yahoo's decline.
YAHOO stands for Yet Another Hierarchically Organized Oracle. Jerry Yang and David Filo established Yahoo.
Yahoo is primarily a search engine and email provider. It offers News and an advertising platform. It was a popular website in 1995 that let people search the Internet directly. Yahoo began offering free email in 1997 by acquiring RocketMail.
According to a study, Yahoo used Google Search Engine technology until 2000 and then developed its own in 2004.
Yahoo! rejected buying Google for $1 billion
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google's founders, approached Yahoo in 1998 to sell Google for $1 billion so they could focus on their studies. Yahoo denied the offer, thinking it was overvalued at the time.
Yahoo realized its error and offered Google $3 billion in 2002, but Google demanded $5 billion since it was more valuable. Yahoo thought $5 billion was overpriced for the existing market.
In 2022, Google is worth $1.56 Trillion.
What happened to Yahoo!
Yahoo refused to buy Google, and Google's valuation rose, making a purchase unfeasible.
Yahoo started losing users when Google launched Gmail. Google's UI was far cleaner than Yahoo's.
Yahoo offered $1 billion to buy Facebook in July 2006, but Zuckerberg and the board sought $1.1 billion. Yahoo rejected, and Facebook's valuation rose, making it difficult to buy.
Yahoo was losing users daily while Google and Facebook gained many. Google and Facebook's popularity soared. Yahoo lost value daily.
Microsoft offered $45 billion to buy Yahoo in February 2008, but Yahoo declined. Microsoft increased its bid to $47 billion after Yahoo said it was too low, but Yahoo rejected it. Then Microsoft rejected Yahoo’s 10% bid increase in May 2008.
In 2015, Verizon bought Yahoo for $4.5 billion, and Apollo Global Management bought 90% of Yahoo's shares for $5 billion in May 2021. Verizon kept 10%.
Yahoo's opportunity to acquire Google and Facebook could have been a turning moment. It declined Microsoft's $45 billion deal in 2008 and was sold to Verizon for $4.5 billion in 2015. Poor decisions and lack of vision caused its downfall. Yahoo's aim wasn't obvious and it didn't stick to a single domain.
Hence, a corporation needs a clear vision and a leader who can see its future.
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1 year ago
A Comparison of Amazon, Microsoft, and Google's Compensation
Learn or earn
In 2020, I started software engineering. My base wage has progressed as follows:
Amazon (2020): $112,000
Microsoft (2021): $123,000
Google (2022): $169,000
I didn't major in math, but those jumps appear more than a 7% wage increase. Here's a deeper look at the three.
The Three Categories of Compensation
Most software engineering compensation packages at IT organizations follow this format.
Base salary is pre-tax income. Most organizations give a base pay. This is paid biweekly, twice monthly, or monthly.
Sign-On incentives are one-time rewards to new hires. Companies need an incentive to switch. If you leave early, you must pay back the whole cost or a pro-rated amount.
Equity is complex and requires its own post. A company will promise to give you a certain amount of company stock but when you get it depends on your offer. 25% per year for 4 years, then it's gone.
If a company gives you $100,000 and distributes 25% every year for 4 years, expect $25,000 worth of company stock in your stock brokerage on your 1 year work anniversary.
Tech offers may include yearly performance bonuses. Depends on performance and funding. I've only seen 0-20%.
Engineers' overall compensation usually includes:
Base Salary + Sign-On + (Total Equity)/4 + Average Performance Bonus
Amazon: (TC: 150k)
Base Pay System
Amazon pays Seattle employees monthly on the first work day. I'd rather have my money sooner than later, even if it saves processing and pay statements.
The company upped its base pay cap from $160,000 to $350,000 to compete with other tech companies.
Amazon has no performance bonus, so you can work as little or as much as you like and get paid the same. Amazon is savvy to avoid promising benefits it can't deliver.
Amazon gives two two-year sign-up bonuses. First-year workers could receive $20,000 and second-year workers $15,000. It's probably to make up for the company's strange equity structure.
If you leave during the first year, you'll owe the entire money and a prorated amount for the second year bonus.
Most organizations prefer a 25%, 25%, 25%, 25% equity structure. Amazon takes a different approach with end-heavy equity:
the first year, 5%
15% after one year.
20% then every six months
We thought it was constructed this way to keep staff longer.
Microsoft (TC: 185k)
Base Pay System
Microsoft paid biweekly.
My offer letter suggested a 0%-20% performance bonus. Everyone will be satisfied with a 10% raise at year's end.
But misleading press where the budget for the bonus is doubled can upset some employees because they won't earn double their expected bonus. Still barely 10% for 2022 average.
Microsoft's sign-on bonus is a one-time payout. The contract can require 2-year employment. You must negotiate 1 year. It's pro-rated, so that's fair.
Microsoft is one of those companies that has standard 25% equity structure. Except if you’re a new graduate.
In that case it’ll be
25% six months later
25% each year following that
New grads will acquire equity in 3.5 years, not 4. I'm guessing it's to keep new grads around longer.
Google (TC: 300k)
Base Pay Structure
Google pays biweekly.
Google's offer letter specifies a 15% bonus. It's wonderful there's no cap, but I might still get 0%. A little more than Microsoft’s 10% and a lot more than Amazon’s 0%.
Google gave a 1-year sign-up incentive. If the contract is only 1 year, I can move without any extra obligations.
Not as fantastic as Amazon's sign-up bonuses, but the remainder of the package might compensate.
We covered Amazon's tail-heavy compensation structure, so Google's front-heavy equity structure may surprise you.
Annual structure breakdown
33% Year 1
33% Year 2
22% Year 3
12% Year 4
The goal is to get them to Google and keep them there.
This post hopefully helped you understand the 3 firms' compensation arrangements.
There's always more to discuss, such as refreshers, 401k benefits, and business discounts, but I hope this shows a distinction between these 3 firms.
1 year ago
Tesla recently disclosed its greatest secret.
The VP has revealed a secret that should frighten the rest of the EV world.
Tesla led the EV revolution. Elon Musk's invention offers a viable alternative to gas-guzzlers. Tesla has lost ground in recent years. VW, BMW, Mercedes, and Ford offer EVs with similar ranges, charging speeds, performance, and cost. Tesla's next-generation 4680 battery pack, Roadster, Cybertruck, and Semi were all delayed. CATL offers superior batteries than the 4680. Martin Viecha, Tesla's Vice President, recently told Business Insider something that startled the EV world and will establish Tesla as the EV king.
Viecha mentioned that Tesla's production costs have dropped 57% since 2017. This isn't due to cheaper batteries or devices like Model 3. No, this is due to amazing factory efficiency gains.
Musk wasn't crazy to want a nearly 100% automated production line, and Tesla's strategy of sticking with one model and improving it has paid off. Others change models every several years. This implies they must spend on new R&D, set up factories, and modernize service and parts systems. All of this costs a ton of money and prevents them from refining production to cut expenses.
Meanwhile, Tesla updates its vehicles progressively. Everything from the backseats to the screen has been enhanced in a 2022 Model 3. Tesla can refine, standardize, and cheaply produce every part without changing the production line.
In 2017, Tesla's automobile production averaged $84,000. In 2022, it'll be $36,000.
Mr. Viecha also claimed that new factories in Shanghai and Berlin will be significantly cheaper to operate once fully operating.
Tesla's hand is visible. Tesla selling $36,000 cars for $60,000 This barely beats the competition. Model Y long-range costs just over $60,000. Tesla makes $24,000+ every sale, giving it a 40% profit margin, one of the best in the auto business.
VW I.D4 costs about the same but makes no profit. Tesla's rivals face similar challenges. Their EVs make little or no profit.
Tesla costs the same as other EVs, but they're in a different league.
But don't forget that the battery pack accounts for 40% of an EV's cost. Tesla may soon fully utilize its 4680 battery pack.
The 4680 battery pack has larger cells and a unique internal design. This means fewer cells are needed for a car, making it cheaper to assemble and produce (per kWh). Energy density and charge speeds increase slightly.
Tesla underestimated the difficulty of making this revolutionary new cell. Each time they try to scale up production, quality drops and rejected cells rise.
Tesla recently installed this battery pack in Model Ys and is scaling production. If they succeed, Tesla battery prices will plummet.
Tesla's Model Ys 2170 battery costs $11,000. The same size pack with 4680 cells costs $3,400 less. Once scaled, it could be $5,500 (50%) less. The 4680 battery pack could reduce Tesla production costs by 20%.
With these cost savings, Tesla could sell Model Ys for $40,000 while still making a profit. They could offer a $25,000 car.
Even with new battery technology, it seems like other manufacturers will struggle to make EVs profitable.
Teslas cost about the same as competitors, so don't be fooled. Behind the scenes, they're still years ahead, and the 4680 battery pack and new factories will only increase that lead. Musk faces a first. He could sell Teslas at current prices and make billions while other manufacturers struggle. Or, he could massively undercut everyone and crush the competition once and for all. Tesla and Elon win.
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1 year ago
Elon Musk’s Rich Life Is a Nightmare
I'm sure you haven't read about Elon's other side.
Elon divorced badly.
Imagine you're a parent. Someone isn't home year-round. What's next?
That’s what happened to YOLO Elon.
He can do anything. He can intervene in wars, shoot his mouth off, bang anyone he wants, avoid tax, make cool tech, buy anything his ego desires, and live anywhere exotic.
Few know his billionaire backstory. I'll tell you so you don't worship his lifestyle. It’s a cult.
Only his career succeeds. His life is a nightmare otherwise.
Elon has said he works 120-hour weeks.
As he told the reporter about his job, he choked up, which was unusual for him.
His crazy workload and lack of sleep forced him to scold innocent Wall Street analysts. Later, he apologized.
In the same interview, he admits he hadn't taken more than a week off since 2001, when he was bedridden with malaria. Elon stays home after a near-death experience.
He's rarely outside.
Elon says he sometimes works 3 or 4 days straight.
He admits his crazy work schedule has cost him time with his kids and friends.
Elon's a slave
Elon's birthday description made him emotional.
Elon worked his entire birthday.
"No friends, nothing," he said, stuttering.
His brother's wedding in Catalonia was 48 hours after his birthday. That meant flying there from Tesla's factory prison.
He arrived two hours before the big moment, barely enough time to eat and change, let alone see his brother.
Elon had to leave after the bouquet was tossed to a crowd of billionaire lovers. He missed his brother's first dance with his wife.
He went straight to Tesla's prison.
The looming health crisis
Elon was asked if overworking affected his health.
Not great. Friends are worried.
Now you know why Elon tweets dumb things. Working so hard has probably caused him mental health issues.
Mental illness removed my reality filter. You do stupid things because you're tired.
Astronauts pelted Elon
Elon's overwork isn't the first time his life has made him emotional.
When asked about Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan criticizing his SpaceX missions, he got emotional. Elon's heroes.
They're why he started the company, and they mocked his work. In another interview, we see how Elon’s business obsession has knifed him in the heart.
Once you have a company, you must feed, nurse, and care for it, even if it destroys you.
"Yep," Elon says, tearing up.
In the same interview, he's asked how Tesla survived the 2008 recession. Elon stopped the interview because he was crying. When Tesla and SpaceX filed for bankruptcy in 2008, he nearly had a nervous breakdown. He called them his "children."
All the time, he's risking everything.
Jack Raines explains best:
Too much money makes you a slave to your net worth.
Elon's emotions are admirable. It's one of the few times he seems human, not like an alien Cyborg.
Stop idealizing Elon's lifestyle
Building a side business that becomes a billion-dollar unicorn startup is a nightmare.
"Billionaire" means financially wealthy but otherwise broke. A rich life includes more than business and money.
This post is a summary. Read full article here
1 year ago
Is Venture Capital a Good Fit for Your Startup?
5 VC investment criteria
I reviewed 200 startup business concepts last week. Brainache.
The enterprises sold various goods and services. The concepts were achingly similar: give us money, we'll produce a product, then get more to expand. No different from daily plans and pitches.
Most of those 200 plans sounded plausible. But 10% looked venture-worthy. 90% of startups need alternatives to venture finance.
With the success of VC-backed businesses and the growth of venture funds, a common misperception is that investors would fund any decent company idea. Finding investors that believe in the firm and founders is the key to funding.
Incorrect. Venture capital needs investing in certain enterprises. If your startup doesn't match the model, as most early-stage startups don't, you can revise your business plan or locate another source of capital.
Before spending six months pitching angels and VCs, make sure your startup fits these criteria.
Likely to generate $100 million in sales
First, I check the income predictions in a pitch deck. If it doesn't display $100M, don't bother.
The math doesn't work for venture financing in smaller businesses.
Say a fund invests $1 million in a startup valued at $5 million that is later acquired for $20 million. That's a win everyone should celebrate. Most VCs don't care.
Consider a $100M fund. The fund must reach $360M in 7 years with a 20% return. Only 20-30 investments are possible. 90% of the investments will fail, hence the 23 winners must return $100M-$200M apiece. $15M isn't worth the work.
Angel investors and tiny funds use the same ideas as venture funds, but their smaller scale affects the calculations. If a company can support its growth through exit on less than $2M in angel financing, it must have $25M in revenues before large companies will consider acquiring it.
Aiming for Hypergrowth
A startup's size isn't enough. It must expand fast.
Developing a great business takes time. Complex technology must be constructed and tested, a nationwide expansion must be built, or production procedures must go from lab to pilot to factories. These can be enormous, world-changing corporations, but venture investment is difficult.
The normal 10-year venture fund life. Investments are made during first 3–4 years.. 610 years pass between investment and fund dissolution. Funds need their investments to exit within 5 years, 7 at the most, therefore add a safety margin.
Longer exit times reduce ROI. A 2-fold return in a year is excellent. Loss at 2x in 7 years.
Lastly, VCs must prove success to raise their next capital. The 2nd fund is raised from 1st fund portfolio increases. Third fund is raised using 1st fund's cash return. Fund managers must raise new money quickly to keep their jobs.
Branding or technology that is protected
No big firm will buy a startup at a high price if they can produce a competing product for less. Their development teams, consumer base, and sales and marketing channels are large. Who needs you?
Patents, specialist knowledge, or brand name are the only answers. The acquirer buys this, not the thing.
I've heard of several promising startups. It's not a decent investment if there's no exit strategy.
A company that installs EV charging stations in apartments and shopping areas is an example. It's profitable, repeatable, and big. A terrific company. Not a startup.
This building company's operations aren't secret. No technology to protect, no special information competitors can't figure out, no go-to brand name. Despite the immense possibilities, a large construction company would be better off starting their own.
Most venture businesses build products, not services. Services can be profitable but hard to safeguard.
Probable purchase at high multiple
Once a software business proves its value, acquiring it is easy. Pharma and medtech firms have given up on their own research and instead acquire startups after regulatory permission. Many startups, especially in specialized areas, have this weakness.
That doesn't mean any lucrative $25M-plus business won't be acquired. In many businesses, the venture model requires a high exit premium.
A startup invents a new glue. 3M, BASF, Henkel, and others may buy them. Adding more adhesive to their catalogs won't boost commerce. They won't compete to buy the business. They'll only buy a startup at a profitable price. The acquisition price represents a moderate EBITDA multiple.
The company's $100M revenue presumably yields $10m in profits (assuming they’ve reached profitability at all). A $30M-$50M transaction is likely. Not terrible, but not what venture investors want after investing $25M to create a plant and develop the business.
Private equity buys profitable companies for a moderate profit multiple. It's a good exit for entrepreneurs, but not for investors seeking 10x or more what PE firms pay. If a startup offers private equity as an exit, the conversation is over.
Constructed for purchase
The startup wants a high-multiple exit. Unless the company targets $1B in revenue and does an IPO, exit means acquisition.
If they're constructing the business for acquisition or themselves, founders must decide.
If you want an indefinitely-running business, I applaud you. We need more long-term founders. Most successful organizations are founded around consumer demands, not venture capital's urge to grow fast and exit. Not venture funding.
if you don't match the venture model, what to do
VC funds moonshots. The 10% that succeed are extraordinary. Not every firm is a rocketship, and launching the wrong startup into space, even with money, will explode.
But just because your startup won't make $100M in 5 years doesn't mean it's a bad business. Most successful companies don't follow this model. It's not venture capital-friendly.
Although venture capital gets the most attention due to a few spectacular triumphs (and disasters), it's not the only or even most typical option to fund a firm.
Other ways to support your startup:
Personal and family resources, such as credit cards, second mortgages, and lines of credit
bootstrapping off of sales
government funding and honors
Private equity & project financing
collaborating with a big business
Including a business partner
Before pitching angels and VCs, be sure your startup qualifies. If so, include them in your pitch.
1 year ago
Failures of DCG and Genesis
Don't sleep with your own sister.
70% of lottery winners go broke within five years. You've heard the last one. People who got rich quickly without setbacks and hard work often lose it all. My father said, "Easy money is easily lost," and a wealthy friend who owns a family office said, "The first generation makes it, the second generation spends it, and the third generation blows it."
This is evident. Corrupt politicians in developing countries live lavishly, buying their third wives' fifth Hermès bag and celebrating New Year's at The Brando Resort. A successful businessperson from humble beginnings is more conservative with money. More so if they're atom-based, not bit-based. They value money.
Crypto can "feel" easy. I have nothing against capital market investing. The global financial system is shady, but that's another topic. The problem started when those who took advantage of easy money started affecting other businesses. VCs did minimal due diligence on FTX because they needed deal flow and returns for their LPs. Lenders did minimum diligence and underwrote ludicrous loans to 3AC because they needed revenue.
Alameda (hence FTX) and 3AC made "easy money" Genesis and DCG aren't. Their businesses are more conventional, but they underestimated how "easy money" can hurt them.
Genesis has been the victim of easy money hubris and insolvency, losing $1 billion+ to 3AC and $200M to FTX. We discuss the implications for the broader crypto market.
Here are the quick takeaways:
Genesis is one of the largest and most notable crypto lenders and prime brokerage firms.
DCG and Genesis have done related party transactions, which can be done right but is a bad practice.
Genesis owes DCG $1.5 billion+.
If DCG unwinds Grayscale's GBTC, $9-10 billion in BTC will hit the market.
DCG will survive Genesis.
Let's recap the FTX shenanigan from two weeks ago. Shenanigans! Delphi's tweet sums up the craziness. Genesis has $175M in FTX.
Cred's timeline: I hate bad crisis management. Yes, admitting their balance sheet hole right away might've sparked more panic, and there's no easy way to convey your trouble, but no one ever learns.
By November 23, rumors circulated online that the problem could affect Genesis' parent company, DCG. To address this, Barry Silbert, Founder, and CEO of DCG released a statement to shareholders.
A few things are confirmed thanks to this statement.
DCG owes $1.5 billion+ to Genesis.
$500M is due in 6 months, and the rest is due in 2032 (yes, that’s not a typo).
Unless Barry raises new cash, his last-ditch efforts to repay the money will likely push the crypto market lower.
Half a year of GBTC fees is approximately $100M.
They can pay $500M with GBTC.
With profits, sell another port.
Genesis has hired a restructuring adviser, indicating it is in trouble.
Every crypto problem in the past year seems to be rehypothecation between related parties, excessive leverage, hubris, and the removal of the money printer. The Bankless guys provided a chart showing 2021 crypto yield.
In June 2022, @DataFinnovation published a great investigation about 3AC and DCG. Here's a summary.
3AC borrowed BTC from Genesis and pledged it to create Grayscale's GBTC shares.
3AC uses GBTC to borrow more money from Genesis.
This lets 3AC leverage their capital.
3AC's strategy made sense because GBTC had a premium, creating "free money."
GBTC's discount and LUNA's implosion caused problems.
3AC lost its loan money in LUNA.
Margin called on 3ACs' GBTC collateral.
DCG bought GBTC to avoid a systemic collapse and a larger discount.
Genesis lost too much money because 3AC can't pay back its loan. DCG "saved" Genesis, but the FTX collapse hurt Genesis further, forcing DCG and Genesis to seek external funding.
Co-borrowing. Unnecessary rehypothecation. Extra space. Governance disaster. Greed, hubris. Crypto has repeatedly shown it can recreate traditional financial system disasters quickly. Working in crypto is one of the best ways to learn crazy financial tricks people will do for a quick buck much faster than if you dabble in traditional finance.
I think the crypto industry needs to consider its future. This is especially true for professionals. I'm not trying to scare you. In 2018 and 2020, I had doubts. No doubts now. Detailing the crypto industry's potential outcomes helped me gain certainty and confidence in its future. This includes VCs' benefits and talking points during the bull market, as well as what would happen if government regulations became hostile, etc. Even if that happens, I'm certain. This is permanent. I may write a post about that soon.