from the world's big
Using Power as a Founder
Over the past few days a "scandal" has emerged from a leaked email regarding AirBnB's new round of financing.
Potential investor Chamath Palihapitiya (former head of growth at Facebook and now increasingly prolific investor), penned an email detailing his reasons for passing on the deal. Namely, that ~$22M of the new funds were being used to pay out a dividend to shareholders (93% of which appears to be the founders). This is an extremely unorthodox method for providing founder liquidity.
Over the last several years, founders have seen their power rise in comparison with investors. This is driven by both short-term realities (e.g. the relative stability of the technology market bringing in new investors) and long-term trends (costs decreasing exponentially and growth of user bases and addressable market sizes).
One can argue whether this power balance is good or not, but I'd rather just accept that it's happening (this fact is elegantly defended by Naval Ravikant; Paul Graham has written about it as well). If the power balance is shifting, we will likely see frequent examples of the impressive companies testing the boundaries of how they can apply this power in negotiations.
Ultimately this is just a sensational example of rational actors in a market trying to discover a new equilibrium.
However, it does open up an interesting question: how should founders wield this new, unknown power?
If you're leading a high-growth company, think about what boundaries you want to test and how you want to go about optimizing for greatest possible impact/outcome. Fight for the things that will matter in the long-term for both you and your team (control, rights, ability to maintain simplicity/speed, comfort, etc.).
Going after short-term gain can be logical, and is not inherently wrong, but every time you do so it becomes easier to slip into playing a short-term game. If you make that slip, you will dilute your chances to actually disrupt or create a market.
Some food for thought: If they'd been in this current market during their ascent, would Bezos try to get a dividend payout? Zuck? Page or Brin? Gates? Jobs? My guess is yes, probably one of them would have tried it - which is why you shouldn't use this as a way to fault the AirBnB team, regardless of whether you like the idea of a dividend cash-out.
Join the legend of non-fiction in conversation with best-selling author and poker pro Maria Konnikova.
China moves to Russia and India takes over Canada. The Swiss get Bangladesh, the Bangladeshi India. And the U.S.? It stays where it is.
What if the world were rearranged so that the inhabitants of the country with the largest population would move to the country with the largest area? And the second-largest population would migrate to the second-largest country, and so on?
Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti get stuck in an infinite wedding time loop.
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Most of Stonehenge's megaliths, called sarens, came from West Woods, Wiltshire.
Discovering Stonehenge's signature<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyOTYyMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzQ2NDc3Nn0.zb-izy2gdpzY5RboUnWumoX1XqP7WgqqkfANYnMkRSA/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C726%2C0%2C-4&height=700" id="a041b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9872216ca30ec9e5628b8e91f32b5b6b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
In 1958, engineers undertook the task of re-erecting a Stonehenge trilithon that fell in 1797. Three cores drilled into a sarsen disappeared soon after.
For every answer, another question<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyOTYyNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5NzI5NDEzNX0.iNRlen_VApo2Hw6SPd_eiVodaG3UpEb00yD4GX_9JgU/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C164%2C0%2C1&height=700" id="e4fe1" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="157f21a6e304f7f50ebec55e2e53e505" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
A view of Stonehenge during the Summer Solstice.
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)<p>Thanks to Nash and his team, scientists now know the source of Stonehenge's sarsens. This clue can help them solve other Stonehenge mysteries. That most of the stones were sourced from one location, the study notes, suggests that they were erected at about the same time. It also reveals the routes the Neolithic builders had to traverse with their heavy loads.</p><p>But questions remain. Why did the builders choose West Woods when the Salisbury Plain is dense with sarsen? Why were two megaliths (Stones 26 and 160) sourced elsewhere? And were the missing stones gathered from West Woods or elsewhere? </p><p>These questions only touch on the sarsens. The question that intrigues so many of the monument's visitors remains hotly debated: Who built Stonehenge and why? Was it a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/mar/09/archaeology-stonehenge-bones-burial-ground#:~:text=Stonehenge%20may%20have%20been%20burial%20site%20for%20Stone%20Age%20elite%2C%20say%20archaeologists,-This%20article%20is&text=Centuries%20before%20the%20first%20massive,a%20theory%20disclosed%20on%20Saturday." target="_blank">burial site for the Stone age elite</a>? <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120622163722.htm" target="_blank">A monument marking British unification</a>? <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/mar/15/circular-thinking-stonehenges-origin-is-subject-to-new-theory" target="_blank">A Druid Mecca</a>? We don't know, but as scientific tools advance, we may be able to break the prehistoric silence that has laid over Stonehenge for so long.</p>