Q: What does the Instagram acquisition mean for startups?
A: A LOT.
At the close of 2011, there was a lot of uncertainty for startups. Stock market fluctuations, underwhelming talent acquisitions (“acqui-hires”), and structural investment problems threatened the prospects for startups.
But what a difference a few weeks can make. The passage of crowdfunding legislation in the U.S. coupled with the $1 billion acquisition offer of Instagram, signals the beginning of a full startup boom. In preparation for the good times, venture capitalists have started to raise new fund money at their pre-crash highs.
Two and a half years ago, Mint.com was acquired for $170 million, and everyone thought that was an amazing deal following the great recession. Now, a fledgling company with a small team gets acquired for $1 billion.
My best guess is that it is about to get crazy. And, only fools sit on the sidelines. Many strong and older entrepreneurs that I know are wealthy today because they made intelligent decisions during the dot-com bubble of the late ’90s. Success was not easy then, and it will not be easy now, either. But, the likelihood of a great outcome is much higher in a boom.
There are a lot of newly minted entrepreneurs that pursue their dream company in a halfhearted way. You may tinker with your idea while toiling at a day job. You may refuse to put in the work required to recruit the best talent. You might be afraid of launching an imperfect product. Or, you may put a mediocre effort into fundraising.
However, if you want to take advantage of a boom cycle and reap the rewards, you need to slide all of your chips on to the table. You need to go all-in. And, you need to play smart. Every move that you take and every bet that you make needs to have the best odds of success.
You can’t enter the game too late, either. If what I predict happens, very soon you will start to read about more and more crazy deals. When “crazy” becomes the new normal, the opportunity will have already passed you by.
So, let me get really specific. As an entrepreneur, you have a decision to make. Ask yourself, “is this my boom?” If your answer is “yes,” then you have a lot of work to do.
Look around you. If everyone that you deal with is not top-notch, from co-founders to vendors, fire them immediately and bring on the best. Now. Right now. Seriously. Now. To really win during a boom, you need to play at the top level, and the winners in every boom always have the best talent. Always.
Is it your time? Is this your boom?
[image via flickr/V1LL14N]