by Mike Banks
Imagine yourself so tiny you're sliding down a nanotube. These things
are the latest tech invention that are so small that only single
molecules can pass through them. Now imagine that you are the size
of a mouse, that's the thing under your right hand there, hovering
just above the "Delete" button - ready to click.
The comparison in size between a single molecule sliding down a
nanotube and the size of the computer mouse is actually vast beyond
comprehension. But there are bigger things like the Apple sitting
near my mouse. It's an IMac and still small by computer standards.
Apple Employed over 175,000 people worldwide in 1999 and they are
considered a "small" company because they have "only" five percent
of the personal computer market. Just a tiny fraction, you might
say. Nearly nothing. Almost invisible.
But Apple is not quite too tiny to see. They are the size of a tasty
bit of fruit worthy of a snack by investors and, with over a BILLION
Dollars in the bank - in CASH - Appple might be said to be doing
well by most standards. Certainly by my standards. I am one of those
itsy-bitsy single molecules sliding down the nanotube of business.
I am too tiny to see and so are you. In fact nearly fifty percent
of the US economy fits in that category of too tiny to see. Under
10 employees earning less than ten million per year. We are invisible.
But how can half of anything be invisible you say? Half of the economy
is too tiny to see? Well, apparently so.
My tiny mind took this invisible path this evening after reading
a paragraph at the end of a CBS Marketwatch news story. A paranthetical
afterthought to REAL news reads:
Loudcloud said it's selling its managed-services business
to EDS for $63.5 million in cash. They raised $350 million in
debt and equity over the years and it now has roughly $100 million
left. What's more, the global recession has made it difficult
for small companies to land big accounts. "Demand shrank," said
Andreessen. "People are looking for big companies (to work with)."
Loudcloud raised $172.5 million and had a market valuation of
$439.5 million, according to Dealogic. Shares of Loudcloud jumped
22 percent to $1.99.
Fellow internet junkies will recognize the name of the LoudCloud
CEO, Marc Andreesen as an early architect of the internet and the
developer of the first "browser" to allow surfing the web, called
Mosaic. He's quoted in that story above, lamenting the fact that
his latest project is seen as too "small" with a valuation of only
Marc, take a vacation! You've earned it!
Now my real motive in penning this essay is to ask why? Why does
this economy see NONE of us that make up the remaining 50% of the
economy and lament that companies worth nearly a half-billion dollars
are "too small"?
You have literally millions of small business people doing virtually
millions of jobs out here. The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick
maker are all out here daily doing what needs to be done to make
the US economy run smoothly and continue to hum while the big bad
boys of ENRON and KMART and PG&E are going bust even with their
Even the slightly dishonest used car dealer who wheedles a few hundred
more than necessary from the hairdresser that "just loves that little
sports car over there" is better than greedy corporate CEO's filling
their bank accounts before trashing the companies they run.
Ultimately, Joes Used Cars CEO contributes more to the economy than
does the CEO who sees to it that his own account is flush before
putting his invisible employees on the street to look for new work.
I'm stunned that when analysts talk about small, that they are talking
about those businesses earning nine-figure incomes! You've heard
of what amounts to that fantasyland dream of earning six figures,
Why is that not enough? And why are those of us out in the real
world making less than that fantasy figure like single molecules
sliding through a nanotube?
We are the invisible entrepreneurs.
Francois de Visscher, a Greenwich, Conn. based financial consultant
and investment banker said, "If you are a $100 million company,
a $500 million, or a $1 billion company, you're not a small business
Thank you for that Francois, at least I know I'm still a small business.
Thank goodness for that.
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