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Scaling a Fast Growth, Venture-Funded Company: Rafael Sweary, Co-Founder and President of WalkMe (Part 7)

Posted on Sunday, Apr 30th 2017

Sramana Mitra: What are you seeing now? Where to from here? You have raised almost $100 million worth of financing. You have very good metrics. You’re scaling nicely. Do you see an IPO soon?

Rafael Sweary: Not soon. I think an IPO is a very likely scenario, but the timing of an IPO is something that you need to carefully look at from what you disclose about your company, the cost of maintaining a public company, and timing in the market. It’s a very likely scenario. Right now, everything seems to indicate that a public exit for this company is going to be possible.

Sramana Mitra: I have one last question. In recent years, and especially during the time frame where you have raised the bulk of your large scale financing, the industry has gone through this unicorn mania where companies have very big valuations. To some extent, these valuations and big rounds have been achieved with very big liquidation preferences. What is your comment to me on that topic?

Rafael Sweary: First of all, I don’t like the word unicorn. I don’t like these types of titles for these companies. I don’t suggest any entrepreneur to think about companies as unicorn or not. Just the fact that there are so many unicorns means that they’re not unicorns. It’s an empty world.

Sramana Mitra: I have written quite a bit about real unicorns versus pseudo-unicorns. These pumped up liquidation preference-driven unicorns are basically bullshit unicorns.

Rafael Sweary: I don’t know. All I’m saying is entrepreneurs should focus on building a solid business with solid fundamentals. Don’t worry about unicorns and don’t worry about different types of hype words. Businesses are about fundamentals. How much does it cost to bring a customer? How much does this customer pay? That is the fundamentals of the business. It’s not about liquidation preferences. It’s not about if you’re a unicorn, horse, or a zebra. It’s just a distraction.

Sramana Mitra: I completely agree with you. We’ve had to do with a lot of helping people work through the hype and rubbish that the media has created so much garbage around this whole concept of unicorns. It’s been very tedious actually. Doing the work that we do has been very tedious just because of the counter surge of this nonsense in the media.

Rafael Sweary: I don’t know if the nonsense is in the media or in the investors.

Sramana Mitra: It’s in both. The first time entrepreneurs can get confused.

Rafael Sweary: I think that for the media, it’s fine. We live in an age of free speech. The media can call it whatever they call it. But the entrepreneurs should keep their eyes on the ball.

Sramana Mitra: But they don’t. Media influences people. The damage that media creates is confusion. Investors do it too, by the way. That’s even more dangerous.

Rafael Sweary: The entrepreneurs that I hang out with and the companies that I appreciate, I don’t think that they’re consumed with the label.

Sramana Mitra: Then you hang out in good company. I’ve been writing this series this year called Death by Overfunding to actually highlight this problem of unicorn mania. I’m very happy to hear your philosophy and point of view. It will help us establish that point of view, which we have been diligent in constantly reaffirming. Thank you very much for your time.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Scaling a Fast Growth, Venture-Funded Company: Rafael Sweary, Co-Founder and President of WalkMe
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