Much has been written about the so-called “golden age” of venture capital in the late 1990s dot-com era, when the likes of Netscape, Yahoo, Amazon and eBay were created.
Yes, those certainly were great times for founders and early stage investors, but I will let you in on a little secret: for all of the brilliance, ambition and hard work that went into building these iconic companies, the vast majority of the capital appreciation in these businesses took place only after they went public.
To put it another way, the rewards for building a truly great business – say, the world’s biggest etailer or the largest online auction site – accrued mainly to the public shareholders. That’s right. The ones who went through all the hard work of logging into their E*Trade accounts and clicking the “Buy” button. They participated in over 99% (literally) of the value created from these brilliant entrepreneurs and their wonderful companies.