A friend responded to my discussion of whether it might be tacky to credentialize yourself by telling people the specific sale price of your previous company by pointing out that, not only is it not tacky, it is the best credential of all. His point was that, at base, entrepreneurs are supposed to create value for their investors and that’s why it’s good to tell people you sold your company.
I get his point and I certainly understand why someone would want to let the world know that they built a company that someone else wanted to buy. However, giving the absolute dollar amount of the sale still strikes me as odd — and, possibly, tasteless — since it’s a useless number absent some of other information. (Not to belabor the point, but it’s pretty obvious that a company that bootstraps for two years, gets a $500K investment and is then bought for $20m is a very different story than a company that raises $100m, burns fast and is then sold for $20m in a fire sale.)
So, what should a successful entrepreneur do to signal to the world that they have a track record of creating companies with true value. First, I think that saying “I sold my company [full stop]” does a lot of the signaling they want but doesn’t mislead quite as affirmatively as quoting the sale price. Second, it might make sense for the entrepreneur to use the type of metric that investors use — IRR, ROI, something else — and let their audience decide whether that’s impressive or not.
All, what should the successful entrepreneur who wants to let the world know about his success without sounding vain do? And, what should I make of the apparent convention to quote sale price?