What a year! My 2016 highlights...
In thinking about 2016, I went back and read my approximate 900 tweets of the year. It's an amazing source of information and for me a great way to remember the salient points after a busy year. Most of these points are not personal, but events I feel best reflect the year. Of course they are subjective so by definition questionable, I accept this.
The Skyscanner sale. This amazing company born in Scotland was sold for $1.7 billion proving again that you can start an Internet company anywhere and succeed. While the sale price was pretty much the previous funding round price, it is by far Scotland’s best Internet success and ranks among the best exits ever in Europe. It also highlights an increasingly acquisitive trend coming out of China. What’s not to love?
Other exits I liked: OneFineStay, which exemplifies great service and Privalia because I like the founders. Both exits represent Europeans buying Europeans. I hope this becomes a trend.
The Theranos implosion. This is a travesty and everything that is ugly with start-ups and the their culture….$9 billion of value whipped out, after years of glorifying the company’s founder and CEO. The goal was noble, but ethics and money got in the way. It will of course not end well…..
Runners-up: Zenefits and Lending Club, two great examples of arrogance and poor governance.
Rakuten's sponsorship of FC Barcelona. In an extremely bold move, Rakuten has become the title sponsor of FC Barcelona, committing $250 million for 5 years. On the surface one might be surprised by this unconventional move, but the simplicity is brilliant: use sports to consolidate a brand globally. With more than 400 million fans around the world, FC Barcelona will help Rakuten consolidate its various brands under the Rakuten banner and promote it globally.
I fully expect this to become a global trend: one where tech companies start using conventional sponsorship/content deals to help them move into the mainstream. Similar deals: BT buying TV rights in the UK for over $2 billion and Alibaba committing $600 million to the Olympic games.
Chairman of Wix. I became Chairman of Wix in February and could not be more proud of a company which so beautifully reflects the values of innovation. The company combines technology leadership with world-class marketing and boasts 100 millionaire employees as well as an employee ratio of 60% men and 40% women. This is a love story and I look forward to being involved a long time.
VW software rigging. The year would not be complete without talking about the greatest corporate scandal of all time. Of course this had to originate from the use of software, without which the magnitude of the deception could not have been possible. While the overall fallout is likely to surpass $50 billion, what is more astonishing is that this scandal has not killed the company. This is the testament to greatness.
Of course, so many other things to mention here, but you gotta make choices. Other subjects in consideration where: a) continued deception of Fintech, b) the hype of the driverless car, c) regulating the Gig Economy and of course the US Presidential election.