Proponents and beneficiaries of the Silicon Valley hype machine will often tell you that what matters is “buzz.”
You have to get people talking about your company, this story goes. You have to fake it until you make it. You have to create an aura of invincibility and inevitability. You have to get the press swooning and scrambling for interviews and scoops. You have to make your founders and CEO celebrities. You have to own the conference circuit. You have raise ever-bigger pots of money at ever-more-massive valuations. You have to create the perception that you’re going to be the next world-changing moonshot worth quabillions of dollars…and the reality will follow from that.
You don’t have to do any of that.
You just have to put up the numbers.
If you’re not convinced, take a look at the company that is without a doubt the most remarkable comeback story in the history of the Internet industry.
Way back in the 1990s, this company was the hype machine to end all hype machines.
It went public in a massive IPO, and its stock valuation immediately shot up to nearly $US50 billion.
But then the numbers collapsed.
And so did the hype.
And so did the stock.
And so did the company.
A couple of years after the peak of the dot-com boom, the company’s stock had fallen 99%. And the company itself had been left for dead.
But then an amazing thing happened.
The company found a management team that was less interested in “buzz” and “ideas” and “stories” than it was in actual performance.
The company stabilised its business, and then went looking for a new growth engine.
And found it.
And, now, a decade later, with shockingly little fanfare, the company’s value is about to exceed the level it hit back in the wild dotcom days.
The company, in other words, is about to be worth $US50 billion again.
The company is located, of all places, in… Norwalk, Connecticut.
The company is, of course, Priceline.
And its CEO, Jeff Boyd, is so press shy that you’ve probably never heard of him.
A $US50 billion company!
In Norwalk, Connecticut!
That almost no one ever talks about!
If ever you needed proof that, over the long haul, perception is NOT reality, reality is reality, Priceline is it.
Congratulations to Jeff Boyd and the rest of the team at Priceline. What a remarkable success story.