Kickstarter CEO Perry Chen says he doesn’t ever want to IPO or sell Kickstarter. He wants to build a company that lasts for generations and stays small. At the same time, his company is funded by VC’s like Union Square Ventures, Betaworks, and others, as well as by numerous angels. Both AllThingsD and GigaOm published the story, but neither one asked the difficult question:
How do you plan to get an exit for your investors if you never IPO or sell?
Is this one of those deals where they just keep selling to other investors like Facebook did until they finally have so many they have to go public?
I think Kickstarter is very cool and have backed a couple of things there, but I just have to wonder at a CEO making a splashy claim like never IPO’ing or getting acquired when he has a Board to answer to that consists of some number of people that have every intention of IPO’ing, getting the company acquired, or finding some other way to show their own investors they made a profit on the capital invested.
Good luck on not showing those investors an exit. And, if you have reinvented the game in some way so you can show them the exit without an IPO or acquisition, please tell us more. Lots of companies could use that new model to good effect.
Fred Wilson responded to a comment of mine that Union knew about this going in and that, “there are more ways to get a return than selling out.”
I don’t recall seeing a company that found an alternative, but I’m sure many entrepreneurs would love to hear how that’s done and responded to Fred along those lines.