Yet it’s not necessarily as clearcut as it sounds. The sale of YouTube made its founders Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim into millionaires, and Skype’s founders did even more handsomely. But even the flawed IPO of Facebook was in another league. Its market cap remains north of $40bn. Zynga has lost 80 per cent of its value since its IPO and still clocks in above $2bn.
Likewise, if you care about your company, cashing out risks selling out. YouTube benefited from Google’s scale, but Skype languished in eBay’s hands. Twitter may yet see a fresh offer from Google of its own, but it would be better continuing its focus on how to turn a profit, not how to pass that problem on.