Wednesday, September 24, 2008

For the first 6 years of my career, I worked for Hewlett Packard, which, despite the occasional disappointing quarter, is a tremendously successful company. After that, I worked for a very small software company for 4 years and we were always profitable too.

Then, after the small company got bought by a medium-sized outfit, I got used to working for struggling corporations. There was occasional profitability, but mostly there was just struggle and faith. We'd cross our fingers each quarter and hope that our sales people got the right customers drunk enough.

That string of almost-profitable companies came to an end last year when the large German company gobbled them up. They were big and profitable. You'd think that would have led to stability for my career, but instead I jumped ship and joined an 18-person dot-com start-up. That's where I am now.

One of the things that's interesting about this start-up is that it doesn't make any money. I'm not merely saying that our revenues fail to exceed our expenditures or anything vaguely complex in accounting principles. I mean that that our company has no income. Zero. We spend money every month and we make exactly none of that back in revenue.

We make a free software product, and we give it away, and we support it, and we don't even have a PayPal "Donate" button on our website. We don't even really know how we will make money in the future. There are some ideas floating around, but all we know for sure is that there won't be any money rolling in for quite some time.

In fact, we discussed a decent idea at a recent company meeting that would be likely to bring in a small amount of revenue on a regular basis. The CEO immediately vetoed the idea. He explained that as soon as we go from zero revenue to any amount greater than zero, the Board of Directors will sit up and notice. Suddenly there will be pressure to increase that revenue each quarter and that we'll have entered a race that we're woefully unprepared to run.

So, no revenue for us. It's really weird.


Mike Duffy said...

For several reasons, I'm glad I'm not an investor in your company. :)

Mike said...

Hey Mike! What I failed to mention in this post is that our company does have some very interesting and potentially valuable assets. And about a million happy customers. So, we've got something! Just not revenue. :) Besides, would this be a worse investment than most of of the publicly traded stocks out there?

Anonymous said...

I hear ya on the no revenue thing, my company is the same way... oh but that's just because the economy stinks and I work in advertising.

Just so long as I get regular applications of paycheck dollars I try not to think about it.

Sue said...

At SOME point ya'll will have to make revenue. It's just a matter of when. I suppose you are running on "funding"?

Mike said...

Moxey, exactly. Until this affects my paycheck, it's merely amusing blog fodder.

Sue, yep, we're funded. And we'll probably get funded again before we start making dough. Crazy venture capitalists!