In past twenty-four hours, I’ve read both:
• A New York Times article, Hungry Media Companies Find a Meager Menu of Web Sites to Buy. The theme portrayed is that despite all of the recent acquisitions in the consumer internet space, “media companies are still hungry.” Quoting Rafat Ali the article states, “Media companies ‘are looking at the new sites coming out of Silicon Valley’ to determine what to buy next.”
• VC blogger Jeff Bussgang lamenting, “Put it all together, my friends, and I humbly submit that we have now hit the consumer bubble I feared a year ago.”
How can this be? Both a market void and a bubble? Perhaps it’s merely semantics, but I’d characterize the current situation as a “rush” to fill a real market need.
There is clearly opportunity in the consumer space – but alas, everybody knows it. I’ve written a lot in this blog about the many opportunities that I see for startups, given all of the dramatic digital changes occurring. So what does the above information tell you about guiding actions for entrepreneurs, VCs, and startup employees alike? Jeff offers two strategies, either to avoid the space altogether or “know when to get out of them [bubbles] before they deflate.”
I’d offer up a third alternative: aim to invest and participate in the creation of businesses with long-term sustainable value which are soundly justified by investment dollars and valuations attached to them. If an asymmetric acquisition offer comes along in the meantime, then obviously hit the bid; but the goal should be to build a company (not a feature or product) that will eventually sustain and thrive on self-generated cash-flow.
Sure, we saw enormous the value creation and destruction the last time around, but we also saw numerous companies (following the third strategy above) and wealth endure. I am hypothesizing (and hoping) that will happen again, but to what degree remains to be seen.