Paul Cook, co-Managing Director of Silvertree Internet Holdings, the investment growth partner behind some of South Africa’s internet brands, on what startup companies must do to survive.
There are many reasons why a business could fail within the first year. In some cases, the plan itself does not make sense and in some cases, it is the execution of it that fails. Whenever someone starts a business, they are often doing it out of a sense of personal passion or a sense of excitement and that can lead to overly optimistic projections, and we see this all the time.
There is always going to be a tough period during the first year or two when reality bites. It will happen in some way and it will happen in some form – there will be some piece of bad luck or a difficult time. It is at this time a real make-or-break situation happens.
If you have the right people around you, if you have the right personal resilience; that is what gets companies through.
If you don’t get past that point, the business fails. It is about resilience when you start a new company.
By definition, you don’t know what is going to happen…no matter how hard you plan for a new business, you will face unexpected events.
Make sure that you are good for the good and bad times during your entrepreneurial journey.
Your family too should be ready for the good and bad times… Try and build the right partnerships earlier on. Make sure that your relationships with whoever might be funding you – if there is an external funder – is right.
“No matter how hard you plan for a new business, you will face unexpected events.”
You should not be seeking funding for its own sake. It is very seductive to suddenly have a lot of money in the bank. You can also fail if you don’t have money, but if you have too much money, then you are tempted to focus on the wrong Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Your objective in a startup is not to raise money; it is not to build revenue for its own sake, it is to build a business.
A business requires cost-control and it requires good unit economics. The more money you have in the bank, the harder it is to focus on cost-control. What you will end up doing is build a business that keeps growing but could never make any money… Also, if you raise too much money as an entrepreneur, you will end up not taking as many good terms [in deals] as you can.
Have a clear mind about what you want to get out of an investment…If you have proven as much as you can with a certain amount of money, you will be able to invest in marketing, stocks etc., then that makes sense.
When you are at an early stage of your business and are less than 10 employees, typically, everybody is in, not because of the salary but because of their passion for the business. You need to be a team and everybody needs to be on the same page.The period when you grow, from 10 to 50 employees, then all of a sudden, that is no longer the case. That is an extremely dangerous time for many companies.
We have seen several companies not succeeding, and that is a very sad part of the journey. It is then that you need to think who your core management is, [and] who are staff who don’t necessarily need to know everything. But you can also go too far the other way. Everyone needs to know the broad outlines of your thinking; keep the message simple for your team.
Be honest about where you need help and make sure your partners are able to help you on those topics. You should look at all the different [aspects] of your business.
Marketing and sales
Marketing and sales are absolutely vital, it is non-negotiable. But how you do it depends on your business. In some cases, it is going to be marketing and in some cases, it is going to be sales. So you need to work out the strategy and how it will be different as well.
Tips ForStartup Success
- Build a business that can make money: We are very tempted to copy Silicon Valley’s approach where you come up with an idea and you work out how to make money at a later stage. That makes sense in Silicon Valley but it doesn’t make sense here [in Africa], because there isn’t that tonne of money that is going to postpone your day of reckoning…You need to have a revenue model and whatever you are selling needs to be a lot more than your cost price.
- Find the right business partner: If you look for investment, make sure that you find the right partner whose incentives and offerings match your own, for now, and in the future.
- Build resilience: Make sure you are ready for tough times because there will be tough times.
Meet The World’s 10 Youngest Billionaires In 2020
From makeup mogul Kylie Jenner to Hong Kong real estate heir Jonathan Kwok, these 10 billionaires are worth $15.9 billion combined.
Of the 2,095 billionaires in the world, only ten are 30 or younger. Together, this precocious bunch is worth $15.9 billion. They span the globe, hailing from the U.S., Brazil, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland and Norway.
Despite the global markets falling in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, three people under 30 made the list for the first time this year. Pedro de Godoy Bueno, age 29, inherited assets from his billionaire father, Edson de Godoy Bueno, who died in 2017. Pedro’s fortune rose in the past year to an estimated $1.1 billion as stock of Brazilian laboratory services firm Diagnósticos da América SA tripled. The second new entrant is Lisa Draexlmaier, age 29, who owns and is co-CEO (with her father Fritz) of the holding company for German auto parts maker Fritz Draexlmaier Co & KG. Elizabeth Furtwaenger, 28, is now worth $1.2 billion after her father Hubert Burda gave her a 37.4% stake in the family’s media empire.
Just three of this elite cohort are self-made billionaires: Snap cofounder CEO Evan Spiegel, John Collison of payments startup Stripe and, yes, makeup mogul Kylie Jenner. In November, she inked a deal to sell a 51% stake in Kylie Cosmetics to beauty giant Coty Inc. for $600 million. Jenner recently donated $1 million to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, the hospital where she gave birth to daughter Stormi in 2018, to buy personal protective equipment such as masks and face shields.
Collison, born and raised in Limerick, Ireland, but now living in San Francisco, is the richest billionaire under 30, with a fortune of $3.2 billion. The value of his stake in privately held Stripe has nearly tripled in the past two years thanks to three nine-figure funding rounds. The most recent, a $250 million Series G in September, put Stripe’s valuation at $35 billion.
The seven others under 30 all inherited their wealth. Jonathan Kwok, 28, first became a billionaire in his own right after his father, Hong Kong property mogul Walter Kwok, passed away in 2018. Alexandra Andresen, now 23, has been a billionaire since she was 19 thanks to her stake in Ferd, the Norwegian investment company her father still runs.
Here are the 10 youngest members of the 2020 Billionaires list, starting with the youngest. Net worths were calculated using stock prices and exchange rates from March 18, 2020:
NET WORTH: $1 BILLION
SOURCE OF WEALTH: COSMETICS
The celebrity-turned-makeup-mogul is the world’s youngest self-made billionaire ever. In November, she inked a deal to sell a 51% stake in Kylie Cosmetics to beauty giant Coty Inc. for $600 million.
NET WORTH: $1.1 BILLION
SOURCE OF WEALTH: INVESTMENT FIRM
NET WORTH: $1.1 BILLION
SOURCE OF WEALTH: INVESTMENT FIRM
The Norwegian sisters each inherited 42% of the family-owned investment company Ferd in 2007. Their father Johan still runs Ferd and controls 70% of the voting rights via a dual-class share structure.
GUSTAV MAGNAR WITZOE
NET WORTH: $2.3 BILLION
SOURCE OF WEALTH: FISH FARMING
Witzoe owns nearly half of Salmar ASA, one of the world’s largest salmon producers, which is still run by his father. The Norwegian heir has dabbled in modeling as well as tech and real estate investing.
NET WORTH: $1.2 BILLION
SOURCE OF WEALTH: PUBLISHING
Furtwaenger and her older brother Jacob were each given a 37.4% stake in the family’s German media company by their father, Hubert Burda, who is no longer a billionaire. Burda Media’s titles include the German editions of Elle and Playboy. Furtwaenger and her brother Jacob serve on the board of directors.
NET WORTH: $2 BILLION
SOURCE OF WEALTH: REAL ESTATE
Kwok, along with his older brother Geoffrey, inherited their late father Walter Kwok’s stake in Sun Hung Kai Properties, Hong Kong’s largest developer, in 2018. Shares of Hong Kong-listed SHKP have declined nearly 18% since the coronavirus outbreak at the start of the year.
NET WORTH: $3.2 BILLION
SOURCE OF WEALTH: STRIPE
Stripe, the payments company founded by John and his older brother Patrick, raised $250 million from investors at a $35 billion valuation in September 2019. John, born and raised near Limerick, Ireland, now lives in San Francisco, where Stripe is headquartered.
NET WORTH: $1.9 BILLION
SOURCE OF WEALTH: SNAP
The Snapchat cofounder is one of the youngest CEOs of a publicly-traded company in the world. After rallying in 2019, Snap stock is down 50% since the start of the year. Spiegel, who was born in the U.S., quietly became a dual American-French citizen in 2018, according to reports in the French press.
PEDRO DE GODOY BUENO
NET WORTH: $1.1 BILLION
SOURCE OF WEALTH: DIAGNOSTIC SERVICES
A newcomer to the billionaire ranks, Pedro is the son of the late Edson de Godoy Bueno (d. 2017), once Brazil’s richest healthcare billionaire. Bueno is the CEO and largest shareholder of laboratory services firm Diagnósticos da América SA, which has seen its shares nearly triple over the past year.
NET WORTH: $1 BILLION
SOURCE OF WEALTH: AUTO PARTS
Draexlmaier and her father, Fritz, are co-CEOs of Fritz Draexlmaier Holdings GmbH, the holding company of the autoparts maker of the same name. Lisa, now the sole owner, joins the billionaires’ list for the first time.
Editor’s note: This post has been updated to include Elizabeth Furtwaenger.
Jeff Bezos Is No Longer The Richest Person In The World After Amazon Stock Plunges
Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos lost his title as the richest man in the world during after-hours trading on Thursday, after his ecommerce behemoth reported lackluster third-quarter earnings.
Amazon shares fell 7% in after-hours trading, knocking Bezos’ fortune down to $103.9 billion. That puts him at number two among the world’s richest. The new number one: Microsoft cofounder and fellow Washington state resident Bill Gates, who is worth $105.7 billion.
Bezos became the richest man in the world in 2018 and the first centibillionaire to ever appear on the The Forbes 400 that year with a net worth of $160 billion, ending Gates’ 24-year run as number one.
But the Amazon chief executive’s net worth drop isn’t entirely due to the decline in Amazon shares. Bezos transferred a quarter of his Amazon stake to his ex-wife MacKenzie Bezos as part of their divorce settlement, which was finalized earlier this year. MacKenzie Bezos is worth $32.7 billion, and among the top twenty wealthiest people in the world.
On Thursday afternoon, Amazon reported a 26% drop in net income in its third quarter, its first profit decline since 2017. In after-hours trading, Amazon dropped nearly 9% to $1,624 per share in the 20 minutes after the market closed. It has since rebounded slightly, hovering at $1,657 per share at 7:30 p.m. ET
The company said it is investing heavily in logistics and delivery infrastructure, with the goal of making one-day shipping the norm for Amazon Prime members.
The company disclosed during its second quarter earnings call in July that it had spent “a little bit” more than the estimated $800 million that it has previously said it would invest in one-day shipping infrastructure.
The company declined to disclose how much it had spent on one-day shipping in the third quarter. But chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky did disclose Thursday that the company plans to spend $1.5 billion in the fourth quarter, presumably to finance the one-day shipping initiative.
Gates, meanwhile, has been out of Microsoft since 2014 when he stepped down as chairman of the storied company, though he remains a board member. He has sold or given away the majority of his Microsoft stake and diversified his wealth over time. He is now the co-chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private charitable foundation in the world.
Bill Gates debuted on Forbes’ first ever billionaire list in 1987 with a net worth of $1.25 billion. Bezos first joined The Forbes 400 list of richest Americans in 1998, one year after Amazon went public, with a net worth of $1.6 billion.
-Angel Au-Yeung; Forbes
These Are The Biggest Givers On The Forbes 400
This has been a year of record-setting in billionaire philanthropy. In September, Stewart and Lynda Resnick, owners of POM Wonderful and Fiji Water, pledged $750 million to the California Institute of Technology for environmental sustainability research.
In June, Blackstone cofounder Stephen Schwarzman donated $189 million to the University of Oxford—the largest single gift to the school since the Renaissance—to fund its work on humanities. The same month, Broadcom billionaire Henry Samueli pledged $100 million to UCLA’s engineering school, the largest gift ever to the department.
Forbes tracks gifts and pledges like these as part of our ongoing coverage of charitable giving by the country’s richest people.
For the second year in a row, Forbes tracked the philanthropic giving of the richest 400 individuals in the U.S. and gave each member of The Forbes 400 list a philanthropy score. The score ranged from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most philanthropic. List members for whom we could find no charitable giving information received an N.A. (not available).
Though the number of the biggest givers—those who scored a 5—stayed flat in 2019, those who received scores of 4 and 3 increased compared with a year ago.
The changes reflect two things: The country’s richest have gotten somewhat more generous, and Forbes had more information to work with this year. Some billionaires were willing to share information on charitable giving for the 2019 list who didn’t in 2018. As a result, four dozen people got higher scores this year than a year ago.
This year, Warren Buffett led the list of top givers with $38.8 billion in lifetime giving, which is 32% of his net worth, and earned the top score of 5.
He was followed by last year’s biggest giver, Bill Gates, who has donated $38.5 billion so far. Two people who scored a 5 last year—Paul Allen and David Koch—passed away.
READ MORE: Forbes Africa | 8 Years And Growing
Billionaires like DreamWorks Pictures founder David Geffen and WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton moved up to the top score after each scored a 4 last year. According to the latest tax filings, Geffen gave $38 million to his foundation in 2017, which brought his lifetime giving to about $1 billion.
Acton and his wife Tegan, on the other hand, have been expanding their philanthropic network, Wildcard Giving, which they founded in 2014 after Acton sold WhatsApp to Facebook. The couple has given away more than $1 billion to charitable causes.
Forty-one billionaires, including Netflix cofounder Reed Hastings and software billionaire Philip “Terry” Ragon, got higher scores this year than last year. Some, like Stephen Schwarzman, earned a higher score thanks to giving in the past year.
Others scored higher because we were able to find more information about their lifetime giving, through new public documents or details provided to us by Forbes 400 members or their spokespeople. In September, a Los Angeles Times report revealed that B.
Wayne Hughes, cofounder of self-storage behemoth Public Storage, had anonymously donated about $400 million to the University of Southern California in his lifetime. Hughes, who scored a 2 last year, jumped up to a 4.
Private equity tycoon Robert F. Smith’s pledge in May to wipe out the student debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College generated lots of headlines but did not end up changing his score because the gift wasn’t big enough to move him up a notch. In many cases, fortunes grew faster than lifetime philanthropic giving.
To come up with the information on which we based our score, Forbes reporters looked at tax filings for charitable foundations, annual statements, SEC filings and news about new gifts. When possible, we interviewed Forbes 400 members and executives from their foundations. Some Forbes 400 members said they have chosen to donate anonymously, citing religious or privacy concerns.
Our score is based on total lifetime giving and what percent of their fortune members had given away. We weighted these two factors equally. Some individuals were then bumped up or down based on several other factors, including whether they had signed the Giving Pledge, whether they had pledged significant donations, how personally involved they were in their charitable giving, and how quickly and effectively their private foundations distributed dollars. We didn’t count pledges or announced gifts that have yet to be paid out, but we took commitment to philanthropy—or lack thereof—into account.
Forbes has been tracking the wealth of the richest Americans since 1982. “Some of [the members] told us to drop dead,” James Michaels, veteran editor of Forbes, told the New York Times in a 1982 story about the list’s debut. “They said they wanted no part of it, that they’d sue us.
This happens in reporting.” At times, our reporting on philanthropic giving received a similar response. “The new philanthropy ranking is fundamentally flawed, in that it is biased in favor of those who make their gifts widely known, and against donors who choose to make their charitable contributions anonymously,” one current Forbes 400 member (who did not wish to be named) wrote to us last year.
-Deniz Çam; Forbes
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