By John Kell and Alan Murray
June 10, 2015

Jack Ma says his life has gotten much worse since last year’s IPO made him the richest man in China. “If I had another life,” he told the Economic Club of New York yesterday, “I would keep my company private.”


That’s a sentiment he shares with most of his American counterparts. Our survey of Fortune 500 CEOs this year found that 84% of them agreed with the statement: “It would be easier to manage my company if it were a private company.”


One reason for that may be that if you are a private company, you get to make up numbers. The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that many startups are wooing investors by touting things like “bookings,” “billings” and “annual recurring revenues” that bear little relation to actual revenues under generally accepted accounting principles. The Journal compared sales figures and projections made by 50 tech companies when they were private with financial results reported post-IPO for the same period, and found a $760 million gap.


Maybe that’s why they’re called unicorns. Enjoy the day.






Alan Murray


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