Time to Sell — How Long Did it Take The Big Guys to Sell? Also When Not to Sell.

If you choose to build a company, do it in around something you love. According to Crunchbase data, the average time from founding to liquidity is around 7.5 years. The two actions that constitute liquidity is an IPO, average 8.25 years, or Acquisition, 7 years. Some notable companies which were successful enough for a large event are:

  • Facebook — time from founding to IPO — 8.25 years
  • Twitter — time from founding to IPO — 7.6 years
  • Zappos — time from founding to Acquisition — 10.5 years
  • Waze — time from founding to Acquisition — 6.5 years
  • Tumblr — time from founding to Acquisition — 6.25 years
  • Instagram — time from founding to Acquisition — 2 years

An anecdote from Airbnb’s founder, Brian Chesky, talking about how company culture drives success. “In mid-2011, we were mostly United States and we had this internet clone funded by these guys called the Samwer brothers… they take American websites and clone them and then quickly try to sell them back to you. It’s kind of like putting a gun to your head…They cloned us and in thirty days they hired four hundred people. And they wanted to sell the company and if they couldn’t, they were going to destroy us around the world.

The problem with Airbnb is if we are not everywhere around the world, a travel site not being in Europe is like your phone not having email, it doesn’t actually work. So we were kind of in trouble. We had this conversation, it was a pragmatic decision of should we acquire them and then there was the values decision…We ended up not buying them. The reason we ended up not buying them was I just didn’t like the culture. I didn’t want to bring in those four hundred people. I felt like we were missionaries and they were mercenaries. I didn’t feel like they were doing it for the beliefs, I thought they were doing it to make a lot of money very quickly.

I believed in a war, missionaries would outlast and endure mercenaries. I also felt like the best revenge against an internet clone was just to make them run the company long term. You had the baby, now you’ve got to raise it.”

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