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But due to a couple forces customers and recruiting we began to think, Well, maybe we should hand out stock options and tell people this is going to be part of their compensation and try to go public. We did have more revenue and profits ($20 million and $3 $4 million, respectively) than almost any technology company that was then going public. Despite all of our growth, we were cash-flow positive, and we had all this profit that we had to pay taxes on. I think once we prepaid a year of rent just so we wouldn t have to pay tax. The company was growing 500 percent a year and generating so much cash that we had to find ways to spend it before the IRS got it. So we talked to some underwriters we were big enough that we were actually able to get meetings. They were very candid with us and said, Look, we re not going to take you public. We said, Why We ve got more revenue than any company you ve taken public in the last 6 months. They said, We get paid a percentage of the deal. The more deals we do, the more money we get paid. If we want to take you public, we d have to waste a lot of time doing due diligence. We would have to look at your accounting and talk to your customers. We would have to convince ourselves that you were a good company. So what You have to do that with any company. No, with all the other companies, we just look at the names of the venture capitalists who ve backed them, and if it s a big name like Kleiner Perkins, we just take the company public without doing any research. We have no idea what these companies do, we have no idea who their customers are or if they re satisfied. We don t do any research. We just take them public and take our fee. So in the same time it would take to take you public, we could do five or six of these VC-backed companies. Sorry, we re not interested. That was a wake-up call, and I think in retrospect it shows why so many of these companies that were taken public couldn t survive. They had no profit and no possibility of making it, but the underwriters never looked at them carefully. I had brought in Cesar and another business guy who was a Harvard MBA, and we had all these VC firms knocking on our door. I was an engineer. The MIT way of doing things is that you delegate to the experts. If you are riding in a car with five guys and it breaks down and you are a math major, you don t get out and start poking around with the engine if there s a mechanical engineering major on board. So I felt like, OK, these VC firms are all claiming they are going to provide added value and that their money is different, but it s hard for me to evaluate these things, so I ll just delegate it to these two guys who are MBAs. That s what they re supposed to know about. Probably the VC firm that we should have picked was called Summit. They were very humble; they said, Look, we don t know how to run your company. We know how to go to institutional investors and get their money, and then we invest it in management teams with a track record of profitability, like yours. We re not going to tell you what to do and tell you that we re going to recruit everybody for you because we don t know how to do that. We know how to get
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