Why did 28-year-old Mint.com founder Aaron Patzer sell his company to Intuit for $170 million after two years in business? Why didn’t he wait until the company’s valuation was much bigger?
Because he got to sell his company for $170 million after two years in business!
After busting your butt for two years on a startup salary — and suddenly you have the chance to become a rich hotshot with a big job in a big company — wouldn’t you?
Now Aaron can work until he gets bored, hit the beach, and then decide what to do next — likely before his 30th birthday.
This morning, Jason Fried, founder of Chicago-based Web 2.0-tools-for-small-businesses 37signals, posited a conspiracy theory: That VCs forced Mint to sell before it was ready.
“Mint’s sale to Intuit really pissed me off,” Fried said, in an essay called “The next generation bends over.”
“Why should I care? Because I think it’s indicative of a VC-induced cancer that’s infecting our industry and killing off the next generation. I don’t know the full backstory, but I’d bet this sale was encouraged by a Mint investor.”
“Quite the opposite,” a person familiar with the deal says.
“This was the founder,” our source adds. “The VCs absolutely did not encourage or force a sale here.”
37signals’ Fried, by the way, is a rare case in the Internet industry, in that 37signals has never had to raise a significant amount of venture capital.
The company has received a minority investment from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, but that is mostly to be able to talk to Jeff Bezos whenever Jason wants. As a result, Fried can be quite cricital of the VC industry.