Jeff Bezos lost as much as $14 billion in personal wealth during a brutal day for Amazon stock. Reported TheStreet.com, “The Nasdaq fell 4.1%, led in part by declines in the mega cap FAANG stocks. Facebook (FB) , Alphabet (GOOGL) , Netflix (NFLX) and (AAPL) were down 4.13%, 5.06%, 8.38% and 4.63% respectively.
Amazon (AMZN) stock fell into correction territory, falling 6.15% on Wednesday and almost 14% since reaching a record high of $2,039.51 on September 4. Stocks are defined as being in correction territory if they decline between 10% and 20% from a bull market high.
As MarketWatch reported, The global selloff has erased $5 trillion from stock and bond markets in October. And if the Fed raises interest rates again, it may get even worse.
Heads up, founders:
You need to brace yourselves for next six to 12 months. This major correction that we’ve just witnessed is a prelude for more readjustments by investors, meaning that founders need to revisit expectations when it comes t:
1) Raising capital
2) Valuations: investors don’t want to hear pie in the sky expectations when financial markets are so volatile, especially with tech being the most overvalued sector. This is when and where the rubber meets the road and we use this metaphor for a reason: time to get traction – and paying customers.
3) Focus on building the business vs “talking the talk.”
Welcome to the Age of the New Lean Startup
Hire strategically – and affordably – and bring on consultant, as needed. And note to self: Paying customers and recurring revenue are the new MVP.
As an investor friend advised us: Investors have to manage their existing portfolios right now – new investments will be tight for a while. Founders need to be sensitive to the realities that investors are facing.
We will also remind you that many a successful tech company was founded in a down market. Hewlett-Packard was founded at the end of the Great Depression. Google (1998) was founded during the dotcom melt down, as were Salesforce and Akamai, in 1999. Facebook was launched in 2004 – hardly a banner year for tech.
When he spoke at our Investor Breakfast, Jeffrey Silverman of Laconia Ventures said that he would love to see the current bubble burst: “Some founders who have been funded shouldn’t have been funded. Businesses that are smart will succeed when the economy is down.”
Thank you, Jeff, and time to think smart. Forest through the trees and the points that we lost sight of and/or which are not being mentioned: This is not a twilight of the gods – it’s a correction; a comeuppance for the cartel who lead with hubris and never lost sight of the fact that they were not always the shining stars – they the last kids picked for the team. Between privacy issues, data breaches and censorship, Big Tech lost sight of the first rule of business, if they ever acknowledged it in the first place: business is business. By labeling users the product, they seem to have forgotten that, at the end of the day, they’re customers, and businesses answer to their customers. Customers are looking for what they want, not what you’re trying to sell them.
Time to think pay cable or Netflix. When HBO first emerged, the service was not a likely choice to succeed: television was free – why would anyone pay for it, rather than watch an advert or several during a program? Netflix? Why would anyone pay for a commercial-free streaming service in the era of on-demand?
But customers did.
In large numbers and lo and behold, video killed the radio star all over again.
Would anyone pay for Facebook, were it advertising free? A Facebook user is worth $26/year to the company, but not really. A $3/month advertising-free subscription rate has been mentioned, but truth be told, in light of the company’s global footprint, most Facebook users can’t afford $3/month, so what is the true value of the service?
Bottom line: way past time for a correction.
The New Lens
We may well be looking at the beginning of the waning days of Web 2.0, which means Web 3.0 is not far behind and make sure to keep in mind the lessons of the Age of Social going forward: it’s not all about data collection or eyeballs or ideology: it’s about access and value and purse strings.
Focus on customers. After all, the customer always comes first. Good to know your users. Even better to give them what they want, or as we’re seeing in this correction, free or not, guess who pays the price?
Onward and forward.