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Entrepreneurs: The Stupidity of Blue Flames

by Miki Saxon

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here.5726760809_bf0bf0f558_m

As most of you know, I subscribe to CB Insights (you should, too). It’s written by co-founder Anand Sanwal — good info and he has a great sense of humor.

Yesterday, I learned that founders are sometimes described as “blue flame.” I’ve never heard this term since we founded CB Insights so it could be that (1) It’s not really a thing or (2) I’m not blue flame.

Basically, blue flame is defined as below:
It refers to young people, preferably in their 20s, with lots of energy and no kids.

A blue flame is a fire that is burning at its brightest. A blue flame founder is willing to do nothing but work, forgoing all else but the company.

Per Twitter, no VCs seem to have ever heard this phrase (or won’t admit it –Miki).

Hilariously, it also refers to people who are too old to invest in.  I wonder how they know the difference without seeing them.

While a founder may be “willing to do nothing but work, forgoing all else but the company” it is the height of either lunacy or stupidity for founders to expect their people to do the same.

Especially in light of recent comments from the likes of Mark Cuban.

“For employees and investors they are SOL [s— out of luck]. That is, unless these companies wise up and start going public … The VC attitude of not going public is crushing the dreams of tens of thousands of employees with options.”

It was different in the first boom, when it was investors who got the shaft.

“In ’01/’02 most of these companies were public, so it played out in the public market. You had companies that went public and then lost 90% of their value or went bankrupt. But in the interim, the employees got something out in the public markets. … Here, there’s no liquidity.” —Alfred Lin, Sequoia

It’s called liquidity and it’s what unicorns like Uber not only don’t offer, but can’t because the public markets won’t support their valuation — public markets have an old-fashioned focus on sustainable business models and profit. (For a detailed look read this from Mckinsey.)

All this just goes to show that whether you’re a six-figure knowledge worker or minimum wage slave, you are cannon fodder to your bosses and the money men.

Flickr image credit: s_p_a_c_e_m_a_n

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