The big news on the Web is Google’s reported $500 million offer that Yelp! turned down. The deal itself is of less interest to me-what is really compelling is the idea that Yelp! executives walked away. It’s really, really hard to walk away from a “sure thing” in anything, much less a $500 million exit. And you only walk away from a sure thing when you have complete belief (or faith) that you can do much better on your own. No matter the price offered to give it up along the way.
Belief like that is rare. Belief like that is what makes people and companies great. People who truly believe are the heroes. Companies that believe are ones that we’re in awe of. There are many reasons to believe, another big potential suitor, a big deal waiting to close, or simply belief that what you’re doing is so much better than anything else that it becomes nearly priceless. But regardless of why, the companies that believe are unlike any other out there.
How do you tell the difference? Look at Facebook, then compare it to Mint.com. One believes that they’re changing the world, one believed that they built a cool tool for consumers to manage their finances. Changing the world is something that doesn’t have a price tag. A consumer finance portal on the other hand? Is worth no more than $170 million apparently.
One took the sure thing, one is swinging for the fences. I guarantee we’ll remember the one that swung for the fences.
Why is this belief so rare and so awe inspiring? Is it because the stakes are so high? Maybe. But I’d like to think it’s because deep down we all wish we had something we believed in so strongly that $500 million wouldn’t be enough to take it away from us. It is so core to who we are that we root and celebrate those that go for it. Vicariously living off of passion without any of the scary realities of the trade offs involved.
The only questions left is why don’t more of us have that belief? Do you believe in what you’re doing to the point that $500 million feels like settling? If not, how do you find it? What’s keeping you from swinging for the fences?
Note: There’s some he said, she said about the deal; but I think the point still remains. I guess time will tell if the Yelp! executives have that belief or not.