You feeling old yet? It’s hard not to when the news is full of kids starting companies that get bought before they even post a sale. Suddenly 20-somethings like Zuckerberg are hot. Pre-revenue startups are hotter. And the Web is once again the new-new-thing.
Well I’ve lived through this irrational exuberance before. It’s 1999 all over again. But this time, I ain’t buyin it.
The first time the bubble-mentality hit, I was deep in Silicon Valley. What a blast, investing in every teenager with a PC and dreaming about the California real estate I would buy when the IPOs came.
I don’t have to tell you the end story, do I? The party of 1999 ended in the crash of 2001 … and I used my stock certificates to line my hamster’s cage.
This time things will end differently. I’m 10 years older and wiser. I’m not interested in buying stock from a 23 year-old. I want experience. Meaty ideas. Real customers. Top line sales and bottom line profits. In short, I want to work on real businesses that will last.
Sure, kids can build Angry Birds. And a few of them will make billions doing it. But the rest of the junior class will see their imaginary castles topple, just as they did in 2001.
All my worthless stock certificates tell me that the youngsters will have their party, but they can’t hold their liquior. The old guys? We will still be around when the party’s long over.
In fact, I’m encouraged by Vivek Wadhwa, an entrepreneur and Executive in Residence at Duke University. Vivek says “Old Guys Rule“:
“I’ve got a message for all the Silicon Valley venture capitalists who think a CEO is over the hill after age 40. Old guys rule. And they are far more likely to be the founder of a successful technology company than most of you understand. How do I know this? Research that my team conducted, based on a survey of 549 entrepreneurs in high-growth industries, showed that the average founder of a high-growth company launched his venture at age 40. We also learned that these founders are likely to be married and have two or more kids. They typically have six to ten years of work experience and real-world ideas. They simply got tired of working for others and wanted to rise above their middle-class heritage.
I can see it happening all around me. For example, my neighbor Jim (39) is bailing from his Fortune 500 career to be an Old Guy Entrepreneur. And I think he’ll be perfect for it. He’s focused, methodical, and willing to take the time required to plan the work and work the plan. He’s got an idea and he’s going to see it through.
I’m encouraged by guys like Jim. I want to see more of us creating things of real value.
Old guys rise up. Take the leap. Build a company. Live the dream. And party like it’s 1999…all over again.
Dedicated to your (mature) profits,