Congratulations to all of you Snap employees on the success of your Initial Public Offering (IPO)! Many of you are now wealthier than you ever thought was possible, at such a young age. I too was in your shoes and have some advice to share, as I look back at my time living the IPO dream.
At the age of 24, I was promoted into a director role in my company. Along with my promotion came something called stock options. Two years later, my company went public. I knew that was a good thing, but at the time, I was a bit naive. I learned a lot along the way that I’d like to share with you.
Let’s talk money, since money makes the world go around. You’re probably going to be tempted to buy some big ticket items like that BMW you’ve had your eyes on or going on some fancy vacation in Bali that will cost you more than this month’s rent. Step back for a moment, before blowing all your new found wealth.
I’m all for treating yourself to celebrate your good fortune. Just don’t spend it all in one place. I had stock options, just like you, and was smart enough to put money away for events that I had no idea would be in my future. For example, I used some of that money to fund my son’s college education. (Did I mention at the time of the IPO I was single and had no children?) I also put a down payment on a condo, a number of years later, that eventually tripled in price. Keep in mind that having money, gives you lots of choices that you might not have had prior to this IPO. The less you put away now, the fewer choices you’ll have in the future.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I know what it’s like to get caught up in the excitement of having stock that is highly valued. However, a lot of IPOs flame out as quickly as their stock prices rise. Take a portion of your shares and as soon as you are able, cash them out and diversify your portfolio. And don’t forget to put some of your earnings away, as Uncle Sam will want his share.
Life as you know it at work is going to change–dramatically. Pre-IPO, your company was able to spend money on niceties and takes lots of risks. Not so much anymore. They now have a boss to answer to by the name of Wall Street. Every quarter Wall Street will be asking the question, “What have you done for me lately?”
This means you can pretty much wave goodbye to the culture that attracted you to the organization in the first place. It’s not going to change dramatically over night. But it will change and if you’d like to remain employed there, you’re going to have to change as well.
You’re going to have a lot of new people to deal with–One hundred and forty-six of them to be exact. Much of the cash that’s been raised through this IPO will be used to fuel business growth and hire the staff that can move the organization forward. As of this writing, you’ve got 146 job openings listed on your website. I suspect that number will rise. Every new hire will impact your organization’s culture. If you’re one of these people who don’t like change, then I suggest you exit stage left.
Your opportunities to be a VP just went down the drain. Now that Wall Street is watching, all hires into the executive suite will need to have credentials that are public company worthy. It may be time to return to school at night for your MBA or find a company that is still willing to give someone without public company experience a seat at the executive table.
You’re going to have to grow up quickly. Behaviors that might have been considered acceptable when you were under the radar screen can now get you into lots of trouble. Say for example, you used to share information about what was going on in terms of revenue or company strategy with your girlfriend. No big deal pre-IPO. Now if you do this and your girlfriend decides to purchase or sell Snap stock, you could find yourself on the front page of the WSJ for insider trading. Or worse, in jail.
You’re going to have to learn how to contain your excitement so that you don’t inadvertently put yourself in a situation like the one I just described. Yes, sadly you’re going to have to be a bit more reserved.
Office politics is about to get a lot worse. Before you went IPO, chances are that you had access to resources without having to go up three levels to make a simple purchase. That’s all about to change. Those who master the skill of office politics, which I write about in my book, Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around, will still get the resources they need and will most likely thrive in this new iteration of your company.
I can tell you this from my own experience. Most people never get an opportunity like this. Don’t blow it. Now’s the time to be generous with others and share some of your wealth. Sock away money for your future and remember, just like Snap, all of this could disappear tomorrow if you aren’t mindful of what you do today.
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