Ladies and gentleman, there is a shadow stalking the tech scene. First Google, then Facebook, and now a whole raft of up and comers. Yes, it is the founder-controlled company (typically achieved by the arcane means of a dual-class stock structure; don’t worry about it), and today the Wall Street Journal is on it: “There’s a power struggle underway in Silicon Valley. At stake: Power itself.” (Pause for Bezosian cackle.)
The Journal even singles out one firm in particular as the ultimate advocate of the trend:
“Andreessen Horowitz is telling entrepreneurs it prefers situations where the founders have controlling stakes, reckoning that they’ll be better able to resist outside distraction and focus on making great products.”
“We bet on boy kings” has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
For example, the paper reports that the firm is currently supporting Fab.com CEO Jason Goldberg as he negotiates for a dual-class voting structure, which would grant him more valuable stock and therefore tee him up for Zuckerbergian levels of control in the event of a future IPO. And we’d probably be doing the same thing, if we were hearing this kind of thing from the namesake Andreessen Horowitz cofounders:
“It is unsafe to go public today without a dual-class share structure,” Mr. Andreessen said. When Andreessen Horowitz invests in a technology company run by the founder, “I feel better if another investor can’t topple that person,” said Ben Horowitz, Mr. Andreessen’s co-founder.
We wouldn’t want any activist shareholders intruding on that tech sandbox, now would we?