Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Tale of Two Entrepreneurs, or Why Mark Zuckerberg Deserves More Privacy than Steve Jobs

The usual conversation about privacy in the tech world has been turned upside down recently.  The CEOs of Apple and Facebook have been in the news a lot about privacy recently, but not for the usual reasons.  Although I'm not a big fan of the way they chose to structure it, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook´s investors certainly have the right to keep their company private for as long as they want and for whatever reasons they want, including Zuckerberg's own privacy.

Steve Jobs on the other hand, is running a public company with a $300Bn+ market cap.  That means that the public absolutely has a right to ask about the possibility that he will be unable to continue to contribute to Apple.  Obviously I am sympathetic to Steve Jobs' medical situation, and I wish him the best and speediest recovery, out of general humanistic empathy as well as a recognition of the loss his passing would represent to the technology ecosystem that I love and live off of.  I am also sympathetic to the general need for privacy, which only grows in times of personal duress.  But the trade-off for going public is surrendering your privacy.  Want your privacy?  Don't go public (see exhibit A, "Mark Zuckerberg.").

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Groupon's International Acquisition Strategy and Its Long Term Future

When it comes to acquisitions, Groupon has been most widely questioned for its rejection of Google's $6Bn offer (Facebook, which is five years older, has 2-3x the revenue, and is, well, Facebook, is probably the only VC-backed company to reject a larger offer, in absolute terms, since the dot-com bubble).

Tuesday they announced a trifecta of acquisitions enabling their entrance into India, South Africa, and Israel.  Clearly they wasted no time putting their $950M round to use (of which the firm probably only pocketed ~ $525M - but what's $425M among friends?).  What surprised me most though as someone who apparently was not following the fastest growing company in history closely enough, is that this was not even close to Groupon's first international acquisition and that in fact they've been on an international acquisition tear since last May, just after the last round of gargantuan fundraising.  In fact I'm not sure if Groupon has entered any international markets organically.

To me this raises some questions: