Friday, June 16, 2006

If I had a million dollars

It's a cute song by the canadian socialist social crusader geek rock band barenaked ladies. It's also a fond wish of billions; which of course is the genesis of the song.

Unfortunately, these days a million just aint all that much. A few days ago Connie DuToit posts a gag thread in The Other Side of Kim Forums, saying "Wanted: 10 million dollars"; figuring half would go to taxes, 25% of what was left would go to debt and living expenses and practical necessities etc... and that they could live off the rest, never having to work a "normal" job again. Funny enough, thats what the wife and I figured as well; we don't have any debt thankfully, btu we figured that somewhere between 5 million and 10 million would cover all of our material wants (which arent really all that great) in perpetuity, as well as providing a solid investment base, and inheritance for our kids.

One of the commenters posted this:
$10 million?

If you happen to come across a lump sum of $1 million (or even in several installments) and blow it, you’re not only a fool, you’re a damn fool. It doesn’t take that much money to stay “rich” once you are.
It did from 1996-2001, and 1 million isn’t rich anymore; in fact it’s barely in the “comfortably well off” category. Between houses costing half a mill, taxes, the cost of colleges, and kids in general... well a million jsut aint what it used to be.

Hell, 10 milion aint what it used to me.

I personally (well, I and the teams I was working with anyway) came up with two completely new security technologies, that are now in widespread use throughout IT. Not the theoretical backing for the technologies, but I applied the theory to new products and techniques that had never been used before.

This made me quite rich for a while, but I got screwed pretty throughly in the .bomb

In 1999 I was sitting on 12.5 million in cash and convertible assets; which I was barred from selling until 2001 (I was employee 14 at a startup that hit moderately big). In late 2000 The management of the company was ousted by the VC’s, given golden parachutes, and replaced with a breakup specialist. This scumbag proceeded to sell us off piece by piece, until the stock I was holding was only worth 300k.

They did it to deliberately devalue the employee stock holdings, because the IRS was saying that the company would have to take a HUGE tax hit because our optons and grants were all at $0.05 to $0.25 and the value was around $45 (I had 25000 shares grant at $0.05 a share, and an additional 25,000 options at $0.25 a share).

They structured the deal so that upper management and VC’s wouldnt have to take the tax hit when we all converted and cashed out. They also made sure that no-ones options vested, that we were just stuck with our grants, which we couldnt sell until after they were done stripping the company bare. Basically the chiefs all got a few million bucks, and everyone below the C level got royally fucked.

I went and took that 300k, and co-founded a business in ireland in late 2000. We had just signed contracts that guaranteed us at least 16 million in revenue (about 30% profit, and I owned 24% of the company) a year for at least four years. We OWNED our IP, and none of our competitors could touch us. By conventional valuation methods, that would make the company worth between 64, and 112 million (between 4 and seven years of booked revenue, plus assets, minus liabilities); and my share from 15 to 28 million.

9/11 hit, and two of our partners, who were established businesses (I as the CTO had 24%, the managing director had 24% and the two established companies each had 26%); deliberately starved the company of operating capital to make it fail as a going concern, then backdoored the contracts out from under us.

They used the loss of revenue in the fourth quarter of 2001 as the excuse, and by January 2002 we were dead. I thought about suing, but I didnt have the money for the fight.

Believe me, a million bucks seems like a lot of money, but in business it’s nothing.