The Social Media Cassandra
by Savas Abadsidis on 2012-06-07
In the days leading leading up to Facebook's IPO a couple weeks ago, there appeared one lone dissenting voice it seemed, among the exuberant masses, that voice belonged to Sam Hamadeh, founder of PrivCo and a very smart voice indeed. Earlier, Hamadeh was equally bearish on Groupon's attempt at an IPO and critical of what he saw as another period of irrational exuberance overtaking Wall Street. Prior to PrivCo, Sam co-founded VAULT.com, the web's leading career information website, upon graduation from the Wharton School and University of Pennsylvania Law School. Herein Sam talks to Escape Republic.
What is your favorite place to escape to when you have an opportunity?
My favorite place to escape to is Miami's South Beach. It has the beach, warm weather when it's cold in New York, and just enough urban amenities like midnight espressos and 3am food options that I don't go stir crazy missing Manhattan. And recently a brand of the private club Soho House - my private sanctuary in Manhattan - opened a Soho Beach House in Miami, giving me one more reason to like an escape there for rest, sun, and relaxation.
What are three essential items you must have when traveling?
1) Portable iPod docking station: For pre-gaming in the hotel room, never depend on the hotel having one, so I bring my own mini travel sized one for music speakers wherever I travel. (The same is true for any road trip...a good portable one will take batteries and provide plenty of good music for the car ride)
2) A blazer: You can go out just about anywhere in the world, no matter how nice, in jeans and a blazer.
3) May laptop: As CEO of a business news company, news can break at any time day or night, anywhere in the world. Having instant access to all of PrivCo's database and resources at my fingertips means I can intelligently answer a sudden call from CNBC, the New York Times, or the BBC for instant analysis or comment on the go.
If you crash landed on a deserted isle, what are 5 things you couldn't live without (provided you found water and a source of food)?
1. My favorite Shakespeare plays: Yes I'm a nerd that way, I read and re-read them and pick up new allusions and metaphors every time.
2. Laptop: see above; assuming I could have satellite wi-fi.
3. My cotton bedding from Area (boutique modern bedding shop in Soho).
4. Lots of Khiels Blue Eagle shaving cream.
5. My long time personal physician, Dr. Jay Weinstein.
What did PrivCo stem from? Why did you see a need for it in the market place?
PrivCo really is the culmination of everything I've done to this point: from studying for my MBA in Finance at Wharton and my JD at UPenn Law School, my work at Goldman Sachs on tech IPOs and mergers, then my starting an Internet information company, career web company Vault.com (where I learned how to leverage the power of the web to deliver database-driven information to users), which led to my raising several rounds of venture capital before eventually selling a controlling stake to a major private equity firm several years ago. All along, my frustration with the lack of reliable information on big private companies (from Twitter to Chanel to Nieman Marcus to Subway Restaurants to In N Out Burger to Armani...all are privately held, i.e. no stock is publicly traded). Traditional business media like the Wall Street Journal almost treat them like they don't exist simply because there's no stock to trade. The reality is most of those companies are bigger, more important - and frankly, more fascinating - than most companies with public stocks. I founded PrivCo to finally fill that need.
You've been pretty critical of Facebook's IPO, as well as Groupon, etc. from the beginning. Now it turns out to be true. What is it you knew that no one else did?
I don't think I or we at PrivCo were necessarily smarter than everyone else. I think part of why we were right when almost everyone else was wrong was that we looked at those companies - there strengths, their weaknesses, their valuations - through an objective lens. Virtually everyone else with an opinion had a vesting stake in those companies, directly or indirectly - bankers looking to take them public at huge valuations and fees, venture capitalists who had stakes in similar Internet companies whose value would be boosted by those companies pricey IPOs, and so on. By being completely independent and objective, PrivCo can use hard facts and data to get close to the truth than the other guys. As we like to say at PrivCo "Data > Opinion".
Sam Hamadeh is a JD graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and MBA graduate of the Wharton School of Business. His honors and awards have included Small Businessman of the Year by Crain’s Magazine, the Harvard Business School Club’s Entrepreneur of the Year, Silicon Alley Reporter’s "100 Most Influential Media Executives," Deloitte & Touche's 50 Fastest Growing Companies, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School's Young Alumnus of the Year award. Sam Hamadeh has authored 12 books about entrepreneurship, business and careers published by Random House and Houghton Mifflin. He has also worked on mergers & acquisitions and on IPOs as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, and on IPOs and securities transactions at the leading New York law firm Cravath Swaine & Moore. Sam Hamadeh also holds an attorney's license in the state of New York and is an expert on corporate law related to private companies, including IPOs, mergers & acquisitions, private equity, SEC regulations, and venture capital.