Jack Dorsey

Facebook's defining moment

As I wrote about in The importance of an Always Be Learning Life, I go to the TED conference every year and it just wrapped up on April 19. This year was particular poignant and it kicked off with this amazing talk by Carole Cadwalladr, which set the tone for much of the conference. I highly recommend you watch it if you haven’t already before reading further.

Then I was having coffee with someone this week (I’ll keep them anonymous), and they are about to go work at Facebook and having some regrets. You see, around the Thanksgiving table they are now going to be asking this person about why they made that decision instead of them getting high-five’d… because Facebook is really in the arena right now. Their answer isn’t going to be as easy as it used to be. And also this week Facebook just reported an earnings beat, even accounting for a record FTC fine-to-be of at least $3 billion, and once again it stock soared. What’s going on here?

At age 46, he started his first company and it failed miserably… but then, on his second…!

At age 46, he started his first company and it failed miserably… but then, on his second…!

For all of us Austin fans, I'm talking about Cotter Cunningham, the founder and CEO of RetailMeNot. Last night, Cotter was one of our keynote speakers, along with Mark Cuban, at the University of Texas for Longhorn Startup Demo Day (the event was just fantastic, by the way, and Josh Baer, Ben Dyer, and Bob Metcalfe deserve a huge round of applause for it).

As of today, RetailMeNot is worth $1.33 billion as a public company (it went public in July and just filed for a follow-on offering). It is just four years old - for a value creation of $333 million per year. Who says Austin can't do B2C now? HomeAway is another one of our five tech IPOs in the last five years. It is worth $3.4 billion today as a public company (it went public in 2011). It is just nine years old. Yes, we haven't produced a Facebook or Twitter size outcome - there needs to be a higher volume of failures (entrepreneurial experiements) to do that, but don't forget we did produce a Dell, a National Instruments, and a Whole Foods.