My part in the GREATEST IPO SUCCESS of ALL TIME
Chewing the face off the Facebook
[The founder of Shoreditch's leading VC investment boutique has been helping Facebook with its IPO - Ed]
After a month in California on special business, during which I couldn't blog here or tweet, I returned to The Roundabout on Monday to hear that a naked man has been found eating the face off another naked man in the street. Now, just which one of my tech-enabled business zoomers is it today, I wonder? Or is this just another brilliant piece of performance art by the irrepressible Hammersley?
Naked men eating face flesh is a fairly common tableaux around the bars of Shoreditch at 2am. And to be honest, it's not uncommon at the end of one of Bong Ventures' speed-pitching events for promising young web entrepreneurs. That's just how we roll. So disappointment tingled with relief when I discovered that the flesh-eating has nothing to do with any of my investments - and didn't even take place in the UK, sadly - however it's real and the footage is preserved on The Daily Mail website.
So why, you ask, has the Bong been away from Silicon Roundabout for so long? Why leave for a month in the middle of the hottest and whitest and most intense white hot heat any one has felt here since the first Industrial Revolution? You know, the old one, powered by coal and science, not BIG DATA, SOCIAL MEDIA and real, WEB SCIENCE?
Well, the Bongster wears many hats - at what I consider to be a rakish angle - and sometimes duty calls. And it did last month. I was relaxing late at night in my loft space when I received an urgent DM on Twitter from Mark Zuckerberg. I put down my snowball at once.
Me and Zuckie go back a long way. I personally pilgrimmed the IPO model in California in the great days of 1999, helping the public buy shares in so many amazing pioneer internet companies, like WebVan, Flooz and Boo. And it was the Bongster who gave Zucks the idea that for one year, he should only eat food he'd personally caught and killed. This was a variation of the Bong Diet. The Bong Diet means that for a whole year you only eat animals that are still alive.
Zuckie told me Facebook's Initial Public Offering was coming up, and was going pretty well. But he had a Sixth Sense that something was not quite right. It was not as perfect as it could be. He was getting nervous. Could he bring me over to Mountain View for the final run-in to the big day - just to iron a few things out? Well, I was on the plane faster than you can say "preferred share allocation". Even if it meant I had to pivot my May chillaxation schedule at very short notice.
Now you guys know that I had a harrowing run-in with the US authorities back at SxSW Interactive, an unfortunate incident with a homeless man who was doubling up as a 4G NotSpot. But after that No 10 fixed me up with a diplomatic visa - thanks, Rahul! - so I simply breezed through.
The Bong Paradox Funnel
As soon as I got there, I knew there was trouble. It was going well. Too well. In particular, I could see there were a lot of potential short sellers out there. The sharks were circling. It was time to invoke Bong's key strategic investment technique: the Paradox Funnel. What is the Paradox Funnel?
The Paradox Funnel is a well-kept secret, but I'll share it with you. It's my own synthesis of wisdom that I have learned from patient study of Sun Tzu, who wrote The Art of War, our spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, and the brilliant guy from the Ayn Rand Corporation who started the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara.
Sun Tzu thought a lot about deceiving the enemy: "Sometimes use cunning deceptions to alienate his ministers from the sovereign. Or send skilled craftsmen to encourage his people to exhaust their wealth. Or present him with licentious musicians and dancers to change his customs. Or give him beautiful women to bewilder him."
Exhausting people's wealth… licentious dancers… bewildering, beautiful women. This was an assignment with BONG written all over it. So I set to work. After informing Zucks of the strategy, I was hitting Morgan Stanley and the other banks hard.
If speculators wanted to short Facebook's stock: give them what they wanted. Tell them Facebook revenues were down. But only tell a few people. Tell them mobile was the future of the company, which means much lower advertising revenues. But again only tell a few people. At the same time, allocate more shares and raise the target price. Put out as many contradictory messages as possible. Sow confusion wherever you could.
Looking back now I think it was a fantastic success. Don't you? And I know Zucks agreed. As I left Mountain View in the limo for SFO, I could see him biting the head off a live chicken. Neither looked very happy.
"Congrats Zuckie," I told him as I breezed through. "A successful IPO and now you're on the Bong Diet, too!" ®
Steve Bong is the founder of Bong Ventures, an early stage investor and incubator focussing on innovative new technology startups based in Shoreditch, London. He enjoys parties, foreign travel, Open Data, hardcore coding and draws his inspiration from Ayn Rand and the His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, and advises No.10 policy guru Rahul Sativa on mindfulness and innovation.