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A Quick Note on Being Self-funded

by Alex Yumashev · Updated Nov 30 2020

I'm probably biased but I've always been a strong opponent of the VC-backed model and the "Silicon Valley" way of doing things - when a big "exit" is the ultimate goal everyone aims at.

Round - Round - Round - Exit.

Angel - Round - Round - Round - IPO

Angel - Round - Downround - Pivot - Round - Exit

No one is trying to build a slowly growing, sustainable, indestructible cash-generating machine to conquer the Galaxy. Instead, everyone's busy inflating metrics for their next pitch.

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing bad about being funded. Moreover, in some niches being funded is your only option - especially when you're inventing the niche. Meaning you have to market the problem first, and then your solution. Just consider this my own professional bias - I hate bosses. Even when they come in a "lightweight" form - as investors.

Ages ago, when I was still working as a hired programmer, companies did not have fancy campuses, free smoothies and a remote work option. Instead we had dress code, toxic meetings, stupid managers, "corporate culture" and small salaries. All of this has developed a huge hostility towards bosses in me - any bosses.

When you're self-funded your only boss is the client. The client is the only person you have to please. The client is the only person you have to report to.

I do not want a "board". I do not want any strangers inside the company. I don't want to pitch anyone. I do not want to survive from one round to another. I do not want graphs, slides and "improving my presentation skills" - is this Hollywood or what?

Also, the current VC industry is nothing like the VC industry that helped bring up Google, Amazon or Sun Microsystems. Back then VC's were not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty, taking an active role in building a company. Nowadays, the VC camp has grown exponentially, they have more money than ever and it just bets on shit. And even when the bet fails, many times they still walk away with hundreds of millions in profits (see WeWork).

How about being self-funded, profitable and independent? Like Basecamp/37signals. Like MailChimp. Like ConvertKit. Like Balsamiq. Like Braintree. Like GitLab or GitHub (the Microsoft's acquisition of GitHub was not an "exit" the company aimed for, but rather "fuck you money" as people call it).

All these companies earn tens, hundreds of millions and not one was created for the sake of an "exit". Profitable and proud.