Yesterday Fred Wilson flexed his arrogance at Web 2.0 Summit, claiming that “I’ve only seen one major company built on the Facebook Platform”. If he was referring to a billion dollar company then he’d be right, however there is an ecosystem of companies who are generating tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue, and even a few select companies generating hundreds of millions.
Fred Wilson wasn’t satisfied in leaving his statements at that however. He took things to a whole new level by insulting the entrepreneurs that were recently acquired by Facebook as talent acquisition. He states, “Justin Shaffer of Hot Potato and Sam Lessin of Drop.io – both of those companies essentially failed”. As we previously covered, each of these companies were actually part of talent acquisitions. While there’s a good chance that the entrepreneurs got a fair amount of Facebook stock and the investors got paid back some return on their initial investment, it’s not the billion dollar exit that Fred Wilson wants.
There’s no doubt that much of the investment ecosystem is built around large exits to large tech companies or major IPOs, however it’s kind of a low blow when Fred Wilson publicly insults some of these companies. Granted, from his perspective it makes a lot of sense what he’s saying, however I wouldn’t call these entrepreneurs failures. I have friends who make millions of dollars a year, have the luxury of taking trips anywhere in the world, an expensive apartment, and in general an incredible lifestyle. Are they failed entrepreneurs? Not at all. Should they be getting large amounts of funding when they are lifestyle entrepreneurs? Probably not.
Fred Wilson sounds like the douchebag father who gives his children no love, no matter how successful they have are. My only conclusion is that I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be his entrepreneurial child if he saw my multi-million dollar Facebook options as a failure. Understandably, Fred isn’t happy that companies like Facebook are serving as a viable option to entrepreneurs who don’t want the hassle of dealing with investors any more and the day-to-day maintenance of their company. While the companies Facebook have acquired may not be wildly successful, in that their founders haven’t been on the front page of Time Magazine, there’s nothing wrong with smaller dreams.
It’s not to say that I personally don’t have great ambitions of my own, but there’s no need for Fred to insult the ambitions of other entrepreneurs. Simply put: it’s shows poor form.
As many commenters have pointed out, I may have misinterpreted Fred’s comments. Calling the companies failures is one thing, but calling the entrepreneurs failures would have been something completely different. Despite that distinction both statements were still unfair. If he makes claims to “stir the pot” as Mike Lazerow states in the comments, we definitely can call him out for it!