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Are These People Really Worth $200 Million?


The collective net worth represented at the roundtable: something upwards of $200 million. The discussion took place in New York's offices in midtown Manhattan.

Michael Wolff: There are people at this table who are now rich beyond ordinary comprehension . . .

Chan Suh: Pointing at Kurnit Him.

Wolff: . . . everyone except me . . .

Martin Nisenholtz: Hey, I work for the New York Times.

Wolff: . . . and Martin.

Suh: Hey, I make $75,000 a year.

Wolff: Do we have that on tape? Laughter Looking back on your own ride here -- Scott, you've had some great success and also some not-great success laughter -- can you start to come to conclusions? What do you owe it to?

Scott Kurnit: Oh, God. I think anyone who is running a public company . . . any of us would say that we're at the beginning still. The reality is that as quick as wealth can be created in this industry, it can be also taken away. As much as you maybe say, "Oh, that's not true; these guys have so much money," the reality is that we don't make that much in cash, and for this to work for management, you've got to have sustained success as a publicly held company for years going into the future.

Stephan Paternot: It's almost like all the planets have aligned. There have been 100 times where our company could have not succeeded. We managed somehow to get the financing put together the first two years when, we couldn't get any venture-capital money. We got the right management team. We kept trying. It's a constant fight. Eventually you get to the IPO phase, which a lot of people view as "Oh, whew -- made it." But five seconds later, you're off again.

Kurnit: Simply said, it's a sprint to get to the IPO, and it's a long-distance run thereafter.

Wolff: Can someone start today, somebody who is a nobody --

Nisenholtz: And be a somebody?

Wolff: Yes. And become a Net-somebody?

Judson: Yes, absolutely.

Todd Krizelman: As much as there is a lot more competition and it will take a lot more money to get you where you need to go, there are a lot more of those dollars available today for new ideas.

Paternot: You need to come up with a more and more unique idea now. I mean, if you're just going to copy what's already been done, you're going to need a lot of money. But there's a ton of room for unique ideas to take market share.

Judson: As soon as you get out with an idea, though, there are more and more people looking at you and wanting to copy you. The competitive environment is intense. We've never actually seen anything this intense.

Paternot: That's why either you have to have the dollars to grow it massively or you'll be a great acquisition target.

Mary Anne Packo: Right. Being a first mover is a tremendous advantage, but then you have to be willing to constantly be fluid and reinvent -- to change with the tide, really.

Wolff: Let me ask what at least I think of as the seminal question of the moment considering the daily march of Internet companies -- almost all without profits -- going public at fabulous multiples: Are there any "bad" Internet companies?

Nisenholtz: I think the measurements are so radically different in the Internet space right now with respect to valuations, which is really what you're talking about.

Judson: I don't think there is a measurement, actually.

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