Facebook Takes Patience, Venture Investor Says Chill: Street Whispers
The same type of experimentation is applicable to Groupon and other Kleiner Perkins backed blue chips like Twitter and Square, which have not yet hit public markets. Meanwhile, in spite of increasing competition in the respective markets of Facebook, Groupon and Square, Schlein sees each company as a leader, a key in hypercompetitive, fast changing markets. Although many question whether Groupon will be overcome by new entrants, Schlein notes anyone outside the top two or three in a Web market is just an "also ran."
Schlein spoke to TheStreet after making a presentation on the changing landscape of venture capital at Thursday's Dow Jones Private Equity Analyst conference. In his presentation, Schlein downplayed investor frustration with Facebook and Groupon, taking a bigger picture perspective that differentiates Silicon Valley based investors from their Wall Street brethren.
About a generally weak vintage of tech IPO's in the past year, Schlein highlighted bigger picture thinking. "The venture industry is a very long term industry. We look at late stage the same way. You have to be patient and believe in the management team," he said.
For instance, in Facebook's IPO, Schlein noted, "anything that achieves that much hype ahead of time, anything that sees that much hype and negativity, usually it's neither of those two things." His perspective is even as the company takes its lumps in shifting toward mobile, where revenue opportunities are still muddled, Facebook's network of users is still hard to dismiss. "Would you bet against a team that assembled 900 million of anything?"
It would also be wrong for Wall Street investors to assume that the wake Facebook's IPO struggles would temper the language or optimism coming from VC giants like Schlein and Kleiner Perkins, as they tout startups valued in secondary markets in the billions.
About Square, a mobile payments startup recently valued at $3.25 billion, Schlein said, "if you become the digital wallet and digital payment system for all things digital, it's enormous. Maybe it's the rise of new kind of currency, a new kind of banking system. That $3 billion might be cheap I don't know."
-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York