It was 7 years ago today…

I had always thought that this date would be seared in my mind forever. July 18th. I use 718 as part of the tailnumber on my plane. I use it as “my number” whenever asked for one. But somehow, the fact that it was 7/18 today would have completely slipped my mind today if my buddy Evan hadn’t emailed me.

Seven years ago, July 18th, 1998, Broadcast.com had our IPO on the Nasdaq stockmarket.

The stock was priced at $18. That meant that those fortunate enough to get stock as part of the initial offering paid $18. But these were the internet boom years. The expectation was that the price was going up. We knew the price was going up. The market wanted the stock to go up. So many investors, and more speculators placed bids on BCST.

I remember driving to the Nasdaq office where they had the “WALL” with all the symbols, logos and trading prices with Todd, our CFO and others all guessing where the stock would finally open up. What would the first trade of the stock be, and finally, where would it close at the end of the day.

I know my memory isn’t perfect on this but I think Todd guessed that we would open and close in the high 20s. I guessed that it would be $34 to $36.

We got to the Nasdaq with the open of the market. Then waited. That was during a period when the order books were so crazed that it took time to sort out the buy and sell orders and figure out where the opening trade would be.

Hours went by. They seemed like days. For all the confidence we had, there was the natural glimmer of doubt that something could go wrong. And we waited. Through lunch.

Finally, I think it was around 12:30 give or take an hour, the stock opened up.

Sixty Two Dollars and Seventy Five Cents.

For the next 20 minutes or so there was a lot of hi-5ing, champagne corks popping and cellphone calls coming in and out. I remember just leaning against the wall talking to people almost in total shock. I couldn’t help but do all the calculations in my head to try to figure out my paper networth and it was beyond belief.

Then the oh shitmoment hit.

People buying the stock weren’t buying it to be nice to me. They had very specific, and probably incredible expectations of what the company would be doing and how it would perform both financially and as a stock.

Going public wasn’t a reason to relax, it was as stressful a moment as I had ever experienced. I was now responsible to people who I had never met. People were buying our stock as a foundation for their future. That was scary.

When the market finally closed, the stock had gotten as high as $74 dollars before finally closing at $62.75.

There was no doubt that Todd and I had to get back to work the next day. We had to make it clear that the IPO wasnt a reason to celebrate, but rather a reason to work harder for all of our new shareholders.

But that was tomorrow, and since the market was closed, and the business day was over, it was ok for us to enjoy the rest of the night. And we certainly did.

Our first stop was a Wall Street bar, by which time we had hooked up with some of our original investors who had turned 30k dollars into 3mm. With CNN and CNBC on the monitors, every time they mentioned the IPO, we had to drink. It wasn’t pretty.

Getting up early to fly home the next morning wasn’t easy, but as bad as my hangover was, and as anxious as I was to get to work, flying back reading the articles in the Wall Street Journal and NY Times describing how the Broadcast.com IPO had the largest first day jump of any IPO in the history of the stock market made my throbbing head feel a little better.

50 thoughts on “It was 7 years ago today…

  1. You can’t say that, there are loosers and gainers thus aren’t a zero sum game, unless you are taking the whole world population as an sample group. If not there will be inbalances which create wealth for some people and cause others to become poorer. This is all basic economics, please read some books, namely “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” – Adam Smith.

    Comment by Rich Jerk -

  2. Of course, the stock markets are a zero sum game– the shares you sold were bought by someone who sold them to someone who sold them to someone who was left holding the ball when it all came crashing down.

    Comment by runescape money -

  3. Hasn’t this been said before on here? Am I only one who does not believe there is luck in business? Saying that someone is lucky implies that they did not try, that if by some chance, they fell into the position they are. I know I would be offended if someone told me that all my hard work and smart decisions should be considered lucky. To me it implies that the one is envious of the other.

    Comment by wow powerleveling -

  4. I think mark cuban is awesome when he stands up for his team, and seemingly doesnt care about the fines, it’s awesome to see that in an owner. He is, to me, the best and most widely known owner on the planet, not to mention that he had an incredible beginning with IPO.
    Congratulations on everything you have accomplished in your life.

    Comment by Ryan -

  5. http://www.videsign.com.cn

    Comment by good -

  6. to (42) please grow up and start blaming successful enterpreneurs for your failing miserable life. “I held you personally liable for” I mean how old are you 17??? Have you heard the term podcasting? Did you send the same email to Steve Jobs too for including this functionality on iTunes client?

    I have nothing for admiration for Marc and you all can bitch and whine all you want. The truth is you’d love to be in his shoes. Yes he had a sound business model and excellent idea and YES he was able to commercialize? Through this blog I think Marc opens up his brain and shares his thoughts so instead of picking it all you do is whine & bitch. Grow up get a life and maybe one day you’ll get to be successful too…. People like you should be banned from the blogspace alltogether..

    Back to original toping – another excellent write-up by reading this I felt the same excitement as you (although my bank a/c is a few $mns short) LOL :)

    Comment by S. Maroulis -

  7. Its more likely the next Googles, EBays and Yahoos will come from China and India than here as evidenced by the recent Baidu.com IPO.

    I’m afraid the good old days won’t ever return again. People like Mark will be remembered as a once in a millenium occurrence that worked hard but ended up being lucky because of market conditions more than anything else. Most investment capital for technology companies is now flowing to India and China for good reason. Its much cheaper to do business there and the growth prospects are much better in those countries. Large companies have also figured out that the name of game is buying up a small company before the price bcomes to prohibitive. That’s the biggest lesson they learned from the dot-com frenzy.

    Comment by Shake -

  8. I’m just wondering how long it will take the next round of suckers to get in this great game we call Wall Street.

    Comment by Jamie -

  9. Ah yes 7/18 the beggining of the downfall for internet radio. The backdoor deal you struck with the recording industry has done nothing for internet radio but hurt it. I hold you personally responsible for the shambles that internet radio has seen and will see in the future.

    You have made it nearly impossible for a person to enjoy the hobby of being an internet webcaster at the smaller end. Most of us do not have the millions to spend on something we truly love, its not just business to most of us, its a passionate hobby.

    Mark you are the reason why people like us small webcasters now struggle to stay on the air. Why dont you do some good for the webcasting hobbyist to make up for what you have been mainly responsible for ruining? Or are you to busy jet setting to remember how you first started?

    Comment by Joel Platfoot -

  10. pay your money … take the ride!

    Comment by Michael -

  11. 7 years ago – those were the good ole days … hopefully those days will return again?

    Comment by jay -

  12. Mark,

    What a great story… You really set the scene and made the whole experience wonderfully suspenseful. I was right there with you, hoping that your stock shot through the roof!

    Now, that’s a clever writer — someone who can snag you so that you’re there to the very end… Didn’t matter that it happened 7 years ago.

    Strange, I had my own Eureka moment 7 years ago, too.

    Connie

    Comment by Connie -

  13. My partner and I got in at the opening that day. Great year in general. I think we would all be interested in your upcoming plans…

    Comment by Sean Sullivan -

  14. Seven years, wow. I work in advertising and that spawned an amazing era. All those startup and all that cash, it was a blast. Shades of old-school advertising. Now that area of Dallas looks like Chuck Heston in Omega Man, completely barren and ramshackled. RareMedium, Square1, Focus2, AllGood Media… All toasted. But out of the seeds of decay spawns new life. I am sure there is a new breed of dot.commers or podcasters or something we haven’t heard of lurking and waiting.

    Comment by Mark -

  15. new to your site…. to a metallurgist, 718, is the name of the most widely used Ni-based superalloy. I’m sure there’s plenty on your plane besides the number on the tail.

    Comment by Jim -

  16. TV (and now blogs) eliminate the distance needed for “greatness.”

    Comment by chris franklin -

  17. Buy the Pittsburgh Pirates. Please, we need your help.

    Comment by Nathan -

  18. How cool is having your favorite number as part of your N-number!! Come on, tell us all more about the airplane!!

    Cheers

    Comment by Richard Smith -

  19. I have a feeling that those days will begin to come back soon. Not with the fury of the BCST, QCOM, EBAY IPO’s, but instead in the form of the up and coming Google’s of the world snatching up the movers and shakers out there.

    I can’t wait to see if GOOG does well tomorrow – they report after market close.

    Comment by Birdwhistell -

  20. Come on Mark…don’t jump on the movie retread wagon.

    http://www.suzyrice.com/BIRD/

    Comment by BrettB -

  21. That’s why in my post you will notice I did not say he got lucky, but had good timing. My tone was more a knee jerk reaction to the self congratulatory somewhat smug tone in his post.

    He almost “forgot” the anniversary. That really did make me laugh out loud. He felt the weight of the shareholders on his shoulders…HAHA..spoken like a true CEO. What he doesn’t elaborate on is that he felt the weight of the ORIGINAL shareholders on his shoulders hoping that he could prop up this house of cards long enough for their/his new shares to vest.

    It doesn’t irk me that he made his. Congrats. What irks me is the type of web geeks (like myself) who read this site thinking/brownnosing that if Mark can do it so can they. It cracks me up how clueless they are. Hoping and jerking off, praying that somhow, someway, they too can join the college frat boy billionaire club and own a pro sports team (and maybe a casino or two). Might as well get a lotto ticket because your chances are pretty much the same. I know plenty of people who work balls out, own there own business, etc.. etc.. and aren’t billionaires (or millionaires, or thousandaires, hell, some are even bankrupt). So yes some luck is involved. You simply have to position yourself and pray. Someone has to be at the tip of the bell.

    I just feel that with that monetary success comes a slight amount of responsibility to create something sustainable with that wealth so the rest of us not so lucky schmoes can make 40-50k a year. Mark hasn’t done that and its disappointing. Hopefully he is working towards that, but all I have seen so far is a bunch of techno-frat-boy personal projects. Nothing of any sustainable impressive business value has been created. No new technology. No new business prcesses. No growing company. No business worthy of a case study. Nothing he created his wealth with exists in any way shape or form. Too bad…

    It’s hard not to lose your edge when you become successful. Who wouldn’t?

    Comment by me -

  22. #29. I suppose you think that’s me, huh? You probably think I want a ride on his jet? You couldn’t be farther from the truth–you don’t even have an idea. And I hesitate to even write this out of respect for the blog owner, but it has to be said.

    Comment by Ryan Keppel -

  23. 23. “you just got extremely lucky.”

    Hasn’t this been said before on here? Am I only one who does not believe there is luck in business? Saying that someone is lucky implies that they did not try, that if by some chance, they fell into the position they are. I know I would be offended if someone told me that all my hard work and smart decisions should be considered lucky. To me it implies that the one is envious of the other.

    Also, I think people make an unfair link between luck and wealth. Are all wealthy people lucky? How about someone who is successful but not wealthy? Was Michael Jordan Lucky to win 6 championships? Ok, that might not be a fair comparison…and for the record, no he wasn’t

    The point here is that I don’t believe that someone should be considered lucky when they have worked to achieve something. Sure, luck does exist…if you were to find a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow…that would be lucky…or how about 7′s and 11′s all night at the craps table…that would be “extremely lucky.”

    I would love to hear what everyone else thinks about this…including you Mark…

    Comment by Dan Carbrey -

  24. Does everyone who posts a comment here expect Mark to fund your start-up or take you for a ride on his jet? The chirpy ass-kissing posts to each of Mark’s blog entries (not just to this story, which is worthy of congratulations) are a deterrent to visiting the blog.

    Comment by Tom -

  25. This is to Alex (23) and any others that the shoe fits.

    To read someones blog and not expect them to do some amount of grandstanding is plain stupid. With that said, I believe that Mark has been as down-to-earth billionaire as you can find anywhere.

    I don’t every remember Mark saying that he was the end-all be-all business and tech guru. He has shown that his earliest successes were the result of hard work and positioning himself to take advantage of the knowledge that he had gained.

    Furthermore, I believe that he has made several references to being at the right place at the right time with other successes.

    Your comments might be more fitting to the execs of Enron, Worldcom, and many others. But I believe that Mark has been very measured as to the credit he has taken for his successes.

    Finally, if you don’t like what he has to say, don’t read it. Afterall, out of sight–out of mind. Well, that is if you had one.

    Keith

    Comment by Keith Williams -

  26. Is the broadcast.com infrastructure the ancestor of music.yahoo.com? If yes, then yahoo did get something out of the acquisition.

    Comment by AVS -

  27. It was something that I still talk about today and that I will never forget. I’m just grateful and proud to have been a part of it.

    Comment by Joey Love -

  28. There seems to be an odd disconect in this story exacerbated by the fact that it was so much money taken off the table.

    Comment by Victor Hugo -

  29. Mark, you have every right to strike those kinds of comments from the blog. Don’t ever feel you cheated, because your ethics are impeccable as far as I know.

    Comment by Ryan Keppel -

  30. I was looking at some of the old broadcast.com pages at archive.org. Maybe for some of you it brings back the memories.

    http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.broadcast.com

    Comment by Mike -

  31. Two key comments:

    #7: It was good that you actually felt a responsibility to all your new shareholders. At the peak of the insanity, any half-assed idea could get funding by folks who understood the game and wanted to get in on it. You knew you had a real business to run.

    #19: Underpricing the stock was a huge part of the game in those days (more on that in my blog). Who knows if the extra $40-50/share of capital would have made a difference in keeping Broadcast alive had the Yahoo deal not happened.

    You are blessed to have avoided the more typical sequence of the IPO gold rush:

    1. The original investors — angels,VCs, and management — package an IPO with a big name investment bank. A price is set which stands up under SEC scrutiny, but still leaves a lot of room for a bidding frenzy to drive the price up. These original investors make a bundle on paper, and look forward to the day the lockups expire and options vest.

    2. The company is left undercapitalized, even if its product idea is a decent one with half a chance. However the fairy-tale pro-forma financial statements suggest its a rocket ship on its way to break gravity. The stock remains in play.

    3. For a while, day traders have a shot at the feeding trough as speculation continues (many buyers at this point are just foolish and greedy amateurs — the day traders feed off such amateurs).

    3. First a few, then suddenly many of these companies start to run out of cash and can’t raise new capital. The collapse is quick because the relationships were incestuous — everyone was using their meager capital to buy stuff from other IPO companies. Check kiting at an industrial scale.

    4. Stock prices plummeted as these businesses fail. Those who got burned the most were those who least understood what a bubble is all about.

    5. And finally, the class-action law firms showed up to scavange the carcass.

    Yep, you played the game about as well as it could be played (starting with the sale of MicroSolutions to CompuServe). The right folks made money at the IPO, everyone made money at the sale to Yahoo, and you turned the BCST shareholders turn into shareholders of one of the few who have come out on top. No class action vultures will ever be knocking at your door.

    Well done.

    Comment by Paul Lambert -

  32. Well the hard work did pay off both before the day of the IPO and after.. then came Yahoo.

    Comment by Daniel -

  33. That is a great story! As an entrepreneur I find it difficult to empathize with the feeling of how much work was left to do. Heck, I’d kill for a normal marketing budget! Don’t think I would want to answer to a thousand, or a million, people though. That does sound stressful.
    ——————————-
    http://www.activsoftware.com/xms/

    Comment by Rob Thrasher -

  34. I have to question the celebration of such an big first-day gain. If the market valued the stock at $62.75, the company lost out on $44/share that could have been raised. I don’t know how many shares were in this issue, but it strikes me that this has to be an enormous amount of money that the company missed out on ($44/share that should have gone to the company went to IPO investors instead).

    Comment by cmadler -

  35. So much emotion in this topic… everybody happy… everybody wants to be rich… And then comment #15 comes along and ruins it for everyone. Do you have to remind us of the victims of our wealth creation? (I mean… not my wealth, I’m still broke)

    Comment by Tino Buntic -

  36. What a great story!

    Of course, the stock markets are a zero sum game– the shares you sold were bought by someone who sold them to someone who sold them to someone who was left holding the ball when it all came crashing down. I wonder how many people lost their homes in this transfer of wealth!

    The valuations the market gave during those years were irrational. With the benefit of hindsight, wouldn’t we all agree that BCST was worth nothing close to $62.75?

    Lest I be misunderstood… I’m not complaining– the rules of the game are clearly laid out for everyone, and someone has to win. As we celebrate this incredible success, let’s paude to remember the BCST shareholders who bought high and rode YHOO to the ground.

    Only kidding. Screw ‘em.

    Comment by Nicky McDuff -

  37. On a whim I bought $5000 worth of BCST about a week after it went public. Working downtown at the time only 6 months out of college $5k was alot of coin and most of the money I had saved up. The guy I gave my money to at Southwest Securities for the transaction on the ground floor of Renaissance Tower rolled his eyes and said I was stupid. I watched that $5k turn into $10k almost overnight. The whole Fall of 1998 I was on cloud-9 watching my investment go up. Even after it was bought up by Yahoo, YHOO stock skyrocketed. That $5k of initial investment ended up buying my first new car, an engagement ring,downpayment on a house in University Park and a nice nest egg to sit on.

    Comment by Ben -

  38. Great Job! I remember that day as well.

    Comment by Sean -

  39. un f’believable

    Comment by Luis -

  40. Mark, that must have been some crazy times. I’m nowhere near your level, but I got some options from work and sold at a high (actually converted it directly to cash when it became available). It later crashed somewhat hard. Won’t mention the company :).

    I have later realized that technology progress is what really matters. To think we can eliminate hunger by allowing us to power ourselves with a battery (or antimatter in the far future)! You seem like the kind of visionary that can realize this (Bill Gates recently noted that he is against such technology!). Awesome blog–it’s one of the few I read regularly (I catch some engadget.com on occasion too).

    Comment by Ryan Keppel -

  41. Geezz… 7 years. At that time I was putting my site together, and I was an IPO news junkie, always wondering who the next gem would be. One year later I was offered $150.000 for my site, and I was stupid enough not to take it.

    Comment by Jorge Rodriguez -

  42. Awesome story, awesome days in the late 90′s Mark. A hangover worth talking about. How many people were introduced to the stock market then? Billions I’m sure.

    Comment by A. Baker -

  43. Something moves me in your words. It is all about business, but the words are beautifully put together. It feels terrifyingly real and human.

    Comment by Sarah Cheung -

  44. I wish more executives took the full responsibility of an IPO as seriously as you did – bravo.

    Comment by Preston Wily -

  45. At 724 Solutions, we were placing wild bets on the opening and closing prices for the first day of trading. I hedged and lost $2000 when we closed over $100. Hard to say I lost ;)

    Comment by Randy Charles Morin -

  46. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

    Comment by Ken Carpenter -

  47. Ahhhh….the good ole days…I was one of those original
    daytraders….98 through 00 were the true glory years! SEC ruined it in 2000
    with decimalization…gotta say your timing was perfect…selling out at the
    top…would love to hear what YHOO thinks of their purchase of Broadcast…..

    Comment by ace -

  48. Ahhhh….the good ole days…I was one of those original daytraders….98 through 00 were the true glory years! SEC ruined it in 2000 with decimalization…gotta say your timing was perfect…selling out at the top…would love to hear what YHOO thinks of their purchase of Broadcast…..

    Comment by ace -

  49. Great story. I can only imagine the excitement of watching those numbers jump so high! And to think that “my number” is taken from a retired basketball player (Nick Anderson – Orlando Magic). It’s real motivation to go out and start a business and go public, though. I need a new number anyway. How about 725?

    Comment by Dan Carbrey -

  50. I can’t believe it was seven years ago today?? lol! But I still remember that hangover!

    Comment by David Burrows -

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