Survey Suggests Cooling of IPO Mania

A new survey of Internet entrepreneurs shows a possible cooling of IPO mania.
Half (49 percent) of the privately held Net firms surveyed say they have no
plans to go public.

The information is from Ernst & Young’s first “Netrepreneur Survey” of
150 Internet company founders. The survey examines how online entrepreneurs
differ from their traditional counterparts. About 30 percent of those
surveyed plan to go the IPO
route, with another 15 percent undecided.

Other findings, some of which appear to challenge commonly held perceptions
about Internet entrepreneurs, include:

  • The majority (69 percent) of online businesses surveyed is profitable.
    This is especially true of companies with 11 or more employees. Two out of
    five — or 41 percent — of the unprofitable netrepreneurs surveyed believe they will turn
    profitable within the next two years, with another 11 percent anticipating
    profitability in three to five years.

  • Survey respondents stressed “independence on the job” (85 percent) and “a
    fun-filled workplace” (81 percent) over “stock options/ profit sharing” (51
    percent) as preferred ways to meet what they identify as a critical challenge
    for Internet start-ups: attracting and retaining talent.

  • Survey respondents said they plan to start five online businesses, on
    average, in their lifetimes.

  • The appeal of being an entrepreneur appears to be siphoning off a
    significant number of people who would otherwise have gone into corporate
    life, resulting in a critical challenge in corporate America for the next

Clearly, netrepreneurs are attracted by the unique challenges of the
Internet,” said Ernst & Young National Director of Entrepreneurial Services
Gregory K. Ericksen, “which raises interesting questions about the impact of
netrepreneurialism on corporate America’s ability to attract and retain some
of the country’s best business minds.”

The Ernst & Young Netrepreneur Survey is based on 150 telephone interviews
conducted in October 1999 by New Jersey-based independent market research
firm Leflein Associates Inc., among a national sample of Internet company

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