In light of recent price movements, I thought this was a good time to share some thoughts I had about the price of MSC.
Mastercoin is unique in many ways. Just like we are discovering how to run a Decentralized Application by having Role Based Bounties AKA Decentralized Jobs, so are we learning how a startup who is less than 6 months old has a publicly traded “stock” (MSC behave like a stock in some ways). I would like to quote Larry Page and Sergey Brin, from their IPO letter back in 2004 (replaced “Google” by “Mastercoin / The Master Protocol”, I’m trimming down their letter significantly and taking a few choice quotes). I encourage you all to read the original, untrimmed version. Also please be aware that the comparison I’m making is not a 1-to-1 direct comparison, but rather saying that we subscribe to many of the same values and goals held by Google’s founders.
Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one.
Our goal is to develop services that significantly improve the lives of as many people as possible. In pursuing this goal, we may do things that we believe have a positive impact on the world, even if the near term financial returns are not obvious.
LONG TERM FOCUS
As a private company, we have concentrated on the long term, and this has served us well. As a public company, we will do the same. In our opinion, outside pressures too often tempt companies to sacrifice long term opportunities to meet quarterly market expectations. Sometimes this pressure has caused companies to manipulate financial results in order to “make their quarter.” In Warren Buffett’s words, “We won’t ‘smooth’ quarterly or annual results: If earnings figures are lumpy when they reach headquarters, they will be lumpy when they reach you.”
If opportunities arise that might cause us to sacrifice short term results but are in the best long term interest of our shareholders, we will take those opportunities. We will have the fortitude to do this. We would request that our shareholders take the long term view.
You might ask how long is long term? Usually we expect projects to have some realized benefit or progress within a year or two. But, we are trying to look forward as far as we can. Despite the quickly changing business and technology landscape, we try to look at three to five year scenarios in order to decide what to do now. We try to optimize total benefit over these multi-year scenarios. While we are strong advocates of this strategy, it is difficult to make good multi-year predictions in technology.
Many companies are under pressure to keep their earnings in line with analysts’ forecasts. Therefore, they often accept smaller, predictable earnings rather than larger and less predictable returns. Sergey and I feel this is harmful, and we intend to steer in the opposite direction.
Our long term focus does have risks. Markets may have trouble evaluating long term value, thus potentially reducing the value of our company. Our long term focus may simply be the wrong business strategy. Competitors may be rewarded for short term tactics and grow stronger as a result. As potential investors, you should consider the risks around our long term focus.
Although we may discuss long term trends in our business, we do not plan to give earnings guidance in the traditional sense. We are not able to predict our business within a narrow range for each quarter. We recognize that our duty is to advance our shareholders’ interests, and we believe that artificially creating short term target numbers serves our shareholders poorly. We would prefer not to be asked to make such predictions, and if asked we will respectfully decline. A management team distracted by a series of short term targets is as pointless as a dieter stepping on a scale every half hour.
Our employees, who have named themselves Googlers, are everything. Google is organized around the ability to attract and leverage the talent of exceptional technologists and business people. We have been lucky to recruit many creative, principled and hard working stars. We hope to recruit many more in the future. We will reward and treat them well.
DON’T BE EVIL
Don’t be evil. We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served-as shareholders and in all other ways-by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains. This is an important aspect of our culture and is broadly shared within the company.
MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE
We aspire to make Google an institution that makes the world a better place. In pursuing this goal, we will always be mindful of our responsibilities to our shareholders, employees, customers and business partners