At 9:30 a.m. on a sunny weekday, the phones at Candelia, a purveyor of sleek office furniture in Lille, France, rang steadily with orders from customers across the country and from Switzerland and Germany. A photocopier clacked rhythmically while more than a dozen workers processed sales, dealt with suppliers and arranged for desks and chairs to be shipped.
This is a grim fairy tale about a mythical company and its mythical founder. As I’ve seen over many years and many deals, in all but the most glorious outcomes, terms will matter way more than valuations, and way more than whatever your cap table says. And yet entrepreneurs – often with the encouragement of their stakeholders – optimize for the wrong things when they negotiate their financings.
In the new world of on-demand everything, you’re either pampered, isolated royalty — or you’re a 21st century servant. Angel the concierge stands behind a lobby desk at a luxe apartment building in downtown San Francisco, and describes the residents of this imperial, 37-story tower. “Ubers, Squares, a few Twitters,” she says. “A lot of work-from-homers.”