Jim Breyer, one of Facebook’s earliest investors through venture firm Accel Partners, just talked to Bloomberg TV about LinkedIn’s recently announced initial public offering. He said that if he were in LinkedIn’s board of directors, he would have told the company to wait a little longer:
I don’t think there’s any rush to go to the public markets. And certainly the advice we give to our CEOs is take time, remain private as long as you can, build the business, build the profitability, and most importantly keep the product passion that is the definition of all the great companies out there. The ones who don’t have the long-term, deeply intense 24/7 product passion hit the rails, and I would point to Yahoo and AOL as two that have certainly done that.
Facebook is certainly a company that has taken its time before going public, although it looks like the IPO could finally happen in 2012. Breyer and other Facebook investors may have some incentive to root for a successful LinkedIn IPO, which is seen as testing the appetite for Facebook. If LinkedIn’s IPO goes badly, that could also lower the interest in Facebook’s offering.
Breyer touches on that issue in the interview, saying that LinkedIn “will not be a flop” and that Accel isn’t really worried anyway: “We really don’t spend a lot of time thinking about which company went public and which didn’t.”
It’s also interesting to see Breyer offering this perspective since he hasn’t always been so patient. In fact, as he admitted to journalist David Kirkpatrick in his book The Facebook Effect, in 2006 Breyer encouraged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to consider Yahoo’s $1 billion acquisition offer. Zuckerberg’s response was to point out that he controls a majority of Facebook’s board: “Hey Jim, we can’t sell it if I don’t want to sell it.”