The very quotable Roger McNamee, Managing Director at investment firm Elevation Partners, spoke with Bloomberg Television today and dropped some knowledge on the future of the Internet, suggesting that HTML5 is the “new Web”, and that kids won’t ever use a personal computer the same way that we do today.
When discussing the future of technology, McNamee shared his displeasure with companies going public, especially too early, and didn’t mince words at all:
I think going public today is almost like a Bataan death march. I think Wall Street — this will insult many people — but I think in many ways it bears a resemblance to organized crime. It is legal today what they do, but what they do is manifestly unfair. It is like a billiard table that is tilted…Essentially, all of the big banks have the benefits of being market makers and banks and on top of that, they behave as hedge funds. That is not fair, right? You’re either a hedge fund or a bank/broker. But to be both at the same time means you get to skim the market with high-frequency trading.
There is no choice…Not to raise capital so much, mostly because investors like us eventually need liquidity. I look at this and I just go, the public market is like a Bataan death march. You want to postpone it as late as possible. The extra three years will make a huge difference. Facebook is a lot more mature company with better systems.
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Of course, as an investor, he knows that there has to be a way for investors to get a serious return on their initial investments, so there’s no better way to do that than go public right now. Perhaps he’ll come up with some alternatives.
Just in case you weren’t sure, here’s Wikipedia’s definition of the “Bataan Death March”:
The Bataan Death March was the forcible transfer, by the Imperial Japanese Army, of 76,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war after the three-month Battle of Bataan in the Philippines during World War II, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of prisoners.
Yikes. Even though going public is a necessary evil, he did praise Facebook for holding out on its IPO for so long, calling the company and its founder Mark Zuckerberg “mature”, and referred to the CEO as “the one”.
Watch the entire interview below, it’s a pretty interesting watch, albeit over the top at some points: