Stewart readily admits he sold Flickr too early.
“If we had waited six months we would have made much more money. If we had waited a year we would have made 10 times more money,” he says. He regrets it now. But at the time, after the dotcom crash, the Nasdaq plummet, and September 11, deals just weren’t happening. All his advisers and investors told him to go for it. It was hard to know what to do.
In the wake of WhatsApp (a $19 billion sale to Facebook) and Beats ($3 billion to Apple) and even Instagram (a lousy $1 billion, Facebook again), $22 million now seems like the kind of money you dig out of your wallet to give a stranger at the bus stop. But for the team at Flickr, it was life-changing. Slack, on the other hand, is looking at something more like first class airfare.
Such temptations aren’t easy to resist. “We could sell it right now for a billion dollars,” Stewart says, and then shakes his head like he’s trying to wake up from a weird dream. “Which sounds fucking mental. But the thing is, those options aren’t going to go away.”
He admits that if the right offer comes along, the kind of offer that only three or four companies in the world could come up with, he would have to jump. But what is that? Five billion? Seven? Ten? It’s hard to know, because in Silicon Valley today, money has lost all meaning and value.
Photo: kk, Flickr