7 sad emails
Turned down, and turned down, and turned down, and turned down, and turned down, and turned down, and turned down—and now: IPO. Also, 7 other things worth your time.
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AirBnB is expected to file to go public next week. A dozen years ago, you could have bought 10 percent of it for $150,000—less than the price of a studio apartment in many cities.
At least, you could have done so if you were one of seven investors that co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky was eager to get involved in his company. As Chesky wrote in a widely circulated post on Medium:
On June 26, 2008, our friend Michael Seibel introduced us to seven prominent investors in Silicon Valley. We were attempting to raise $150,000 at a $1.5M valuation. …
Below you will see five rejections. The other two did not reply.
“Next time you have an idea and it gets rejected,” Chesky wrote, “I want you to think of these emails.”
Here are some of the highlights. You can read the whole post on Medium:
Investor No. 1: “Not in our area of focus, do wish you best of luck...
Investor No. 2: “The potential market opportunity did not seem large enough for our required model.”
Investor No. 3: “It’s not in one of our five prime target markets, so it’s a long shot for involvement … If you get to the point of a Series A investment please let us know and we’ll take a look.”
Investor No. 4: “Thanks for the follow up. … I really like the progress you guys have made, but between issues outstanding with ABB and my current time commitments to other projects … I’m not going to be able to proceed with an investment.”
Investor No. 5: “We decided yesterday not to take this to the next level. We’ve always struggled with travel as a category. We recognize it's one of the top e-commerce categories but for some reason, we’ve not been able to get excited about travel-related businesses.”
Investor No. 6 and No. 7: [No reply.]
None of these investors was stupid or blind. In fact, by any logical standard — even now — the early version of Airbnb seems like a pretty crazy idea.
“Who’s going to stay on an air mattress in a stranger’s apartment, honestly?” asked Sam Altman, who was running Y Combinator at the time.
The reasonable thing to do if asked to invest back then was probably to say no. But as George Bernard Shaw wrote:
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
Be a little bit unreasonable, today.
Thank you to the roughly 30 readers who emailed me to make sure I knew about the error. I know I make more of these than I wish I did. 😊
7 other things worth your time
Seven members of an international peacekeeping force, including five U.S. service members, were killed in a helicopter crash in Egypt. Officials say there is “zero indication of malicious activity;” in other words a mechanical failure or accident. (Military Times)
A follow up to my concession speech video mashup. Here’s the text of the five letters (that we know of) that outgoing presidents left for to incoming presidents since 1988 in the Oval Office: (a) President Reagan to George H.W. Bush (b) President Bush to Bill Clinton, (b) President Clinton to George W. Bush, (c) President George W. Bush to Barack Obama, and (d) President Obama to Donald Trump. Here’s Trump graciously showing Obama’s letter to ABC’s David Muir in 2017:
Pope Francis called President-elect Joe Biden, who will be the second Catholic president, becoming the latest world leader to congratulate him officially. (Politico)
Last week’s election was the “most secure in American history,” with “no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” according the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Obviously President Trump differs with this conclusion, and the head of CISA said he expects to be fired as a result. (The Verge, DHS, Politico)
If you’re on a Zoom call (or other video call) a report says some hackers have figured out how to decode what you might be typing by studying the way your shoulders shrug while you type. I share this just in case you don’t have enough other things to worry about right now. (Fast Company)
We’ll get a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade this year, but it will be short: justone block. Thanks a lot, Covid. (Parents.com)
But… if Pfzier’s vaccine really is as effective as it says its first results predict, U.S. states will soon gear up for the most ambitious, fastest, vaccination program in history. First on the list: health care workers, second: email newsletter writers. (Sorry, that joke probably wasn’t appropriate). In theory, Americans by and large might be able to get it by April, May or June 2021. “The cavalry is coming,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday. (AP)
Photo: Pixabay. I once wrote about these Airbnb emails before at Inc.com. If you liked this post, and you’re not yet a subscriber, what are you waiting for? Please sign up for the daily Understandably.com email newsletter, with thousands and thousands of 5-star ratings from happy readers. You can also just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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