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It All Changes When the Founder Drives a Porsche (learntoduck.com)
182 points by bensummers on Dec 4, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 96 comments

The title of the entry put me off to the overall premise, which, I think, even the author may have missed.

Basically, the article should've been titled "It All Changes When The Startup Is Making A Lot Of Cash". Supposedly Groupon is making nearly $2 billion a year in revenue. The decision to turn down an acquisition has more to do with "we're a real company making a TON of cash and we don't need to sell" than the founder thinking about their legacy.

What's the point of an exit? Mostly it's to get a gigantic payday. If your startup-turned-cash-machine is already making a ton of cash every month, the founders are already getting a payday... all the time.

If you're already making FU money from the revenues of your business and someone offers you more of it, the benefit of the FU money is you can say FU to the offer.

I disagree - the title is spot on. Groupon's monthly revenue isn't directly related to the personal finances of the founders. The point of the post is to show that a founder's bank going from 5m to 500m doesn't have as much of an effect as it does from 10k to 5m (or 500m).

5m to 500m is actually so inconsequential that they willingly turned down a lucrative acquisition in order to go it alone and make their impact as they see fit.

> 5m to 500m is actually so inconsequential

It's only inconsequential if you lack imagination.

Would you rather be the guy who started another discount chain, or the guy who made space travel practical?

Agreed. With $5m in the bank you basically never have to work again. Retire early. However you don't really have enough to be a philanthropist or start capital-intensive startups. Could become|continue a serial software startup guy, since no risk to your retirement. You have a nice house and nice car and lots of savings.

With $500m in the bank, you get the above plus you can be a philanthropist and personally fund many sorts of capital-intensive startups. You have a mansion on an island, and a yacht and a helicopter and many exotic cars.

The difference between any two orders of magnitude is never inconsequential, I'd argue. There's always so much more you could do at higher levels. And not necessarily talking about self-ish pleasure-seeking things but world-changing, humanity-improving sorts of things.

One of my surprisingly life lessons from 2010: "revenue makes money less attractive" is true at numbers much, much smaller than 6 billion, too.

> Supposedly Groupon is making nearly $2 billion a year in revenue.

Of which somewhere between $1 and $1.5 billion are pass-through, going to local merchants.

Assuming actual revenue is the more widely-reported $500m, I'm not sure how far that goes when you have 3000 employees.

Recall that MySpace was putting up similar revenue numbers but with only a single profitable quarter, making something like $10m.

Revenue alone is meaningless. I can increase my revenue at any time by selling things at a loss. What's the profit?

I assume GroupOn must have real profits in order to turn down that much cash. We've seen just as often though that companies are deluded, like PointCast or Digg. It would be easy to settle this point by looking at profits. Curious how companies jealously guard that information but loudly trumpet "Revenues!"

That alone should be enough to convince anyone how meaningless revenues are.

I remember seeing the words "profit is fallacy, cashflow is king" on a poster in an accountants office.

Profit is an accounting construct. Positive cashflow is real and can sustain a business for a long time.

(Note: cashflow != revenue)

That's because accrual accounting is just another way to cook the books.


People might object to that characterization because it's so "standard". That's how you get these notions that cash flow is "better" than profit -- the language gets tortured so that profit doesn't mean profit any more because the ledger is a fantasy.

In cash method accounting, profit is profit. In accrual accounting, profit is whatever number you pencil in.

To be clear, I'm talking about money in your hands, not someone else's.

Cash accounting in my experience is a much "better" way to cook the books than accrual accounting. You can easily and unintentionally screw yourself if you're collecting cash up front for a product which involves future costs.

The only system I have found to work is accrual combined with customer prepayment (to eliminate credit risk; or just be very good at receivables management, which not everyone is) and aggressive cashflow management. The biggest problems with accrual go away if you don't have to worry about customer payment risk or accidentally running out of cash in the short term.

You can lie to yourself (and others) with numbers with either kind of accounting, but it's harder to accidentally kill yourself with a conservative system.

yeah if you have a real a business, making real revenue, then selling really isn't a huge priority, and you can work on making something really huge.

However, I do think that Groupon is an exception to this. You can't build a long lasting business, when your business model relies on tricking people into throwing a ton of money down the drain. Once the whole hype ends, and all business owners realize what a bad business proposition Groupon is, they'll lose their market...and will regret not taking the offer.

Um, you realize that newspapers generated billions of dollars in profits over more than a century by "tricking people" into using coupons, right? Coupons are about helping businesses attract customers they wouldn't have gotten otherwise. The specifics are a little different in the Internet age, but there's no reason to think Groupon is any more a flash in the pan than the advertising supplements in newspapers were.

If you've studied the rise of the department store, John Wanamaker and Macies, I think you'll find Groupon is following a pretty great and old formula of style and group buying dynamics. The idea it's based on, people getting excited about good deals that are trendy, is solid.

the problem is that Walmart doesn't put it's suppliers out of business. They have low margins, but the volume more than makes up for them, while Groupon requires their suppliers to operate at a loss, because they've been tricked into thinking they are getting something with high LTV.

Wal Mart has put suppliers out of business too. http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/77/walmart.html

It's also made many suppliers rich. I wouldn't be all that confident about suppliers being tricked. I'm sure it works better for some than others. I'm sure there are ways of making it work better. The businesses that did well with Groupon will resign and the others won't. I would want to see some evidence the Groupon are having a hard time selling before assuming what you seem to be pretty confident of.

Actually, Wal-Mart does sometimes force suppliers to sell at a loss. There were a lot of articles on the topic a few years ago when hating on Wal-Mart was cool. And if Groupon isn't beneficial to some customers, they shouldn't buy. I know businesses around here that run regular Groupon offers. They clearly aren't unhappy. What you're talking about is poor decisions on a business owner's part, not Groupon scamming people. There are real scams aimed at business owners, but Groupon is not one.

$2bn in revenue does not mean you are "making a TON of money" they could be losing money. I don't know what their yearly profit is but it will take them many years to make $6bn in profit, therefore it was a very good offer from google and they should have taken the money.

The most recent profit number I heard was $50m. Not sure if that was for 2009 or per some recent quarter, or for 2010.

I'm kind of surprised that this conversation is solely about founders (well, and which Porsche to buy). There's only a few founders out there, and a lot more regular ol' employees.

Here's the thing about the scenario in this post: the founders and investors that are swinging for the fences and taking big risks probably have their nest eggs in place. But what about their employees? A modest exit could mean security for them. That exit may not cement the founder's "legacy", but it might give a few, a dozen, or even a big group of people a stable financial footing for the first time in their lives. What's more important? What has the most utility? I'm honestly not sure.

Having been an employee in that scenario and now a founder, I can see both sides. Personally, I'm glad to see more investors making sure that early employees get an opportunity to get a bit liquid if their founder bosses decide to shirk acquisition offers and spin the wheel of IPO fortune.

But, and this is important, this isn't an alternative between "exit with fat sacks of cash" vs. "exit flat broke", for either the founder or the employees. Presumably, in the "founder drives a Porsche" scenario, the startup is not in imminent danger of collapse and the employees are not subsisting on ramen. So if the founder decides not to cash out, the employees have the "stable financial footing" of having a job that, presumably, they like and are good at. On the other hand, if the buyout was a talent buyout aiming for the founders or a shutdown buyout, if the founders decide to cash out, the employees may have some $$ in hand but are back on the job market. That's not exactly the most stable of positions.

If security is something the employees are worried about, they should not have joined a start-up for whom an exit is their best chance.

Startups are volatile environments with risky financial conditions, hopefully driven by people for whom making the best impact in their chosen area is the most important thing. It should all be about the product, making the best decision for the product, championing the product.

Employees are valuable and necessary. I would never argue that employees contribute less then management in general. However, it's not a founder's place to make sure they get security via an exit... It's their place to make their product fantastic, which as a side-effect, should keep the employees employed.

If they want security, they should bet on a stable job in a stable market. It's boring, it's not as challenging... But it's safe.

Indeed. Say you were an employee with a mere 1/10 of 1%:

$6b * 0.001 = $6m

I'd say $6m would be life-changing for most employees.

"Today, Groupon did something that all entrepreneurs, in their heart of the hearts, wishes they could do: spur the big acquisition offer and swing for the fences."

6B isn't a home run these days?

No kidding. I'm wondering if Groupon founders are overestimating the ceiling of that business.

Is it possible they don't ever intend to exit? I know that's pretty rare- most startups seem to be aiming for the exit- but can't some simply be trying to be their own business?

Why is it so rare? If I had the choice between being the owner of and working at a company that I love and believe in while earning $x, versus earning $10x, the former sounds much more attractive.

Sure, I suppose it is...it's just rare.

6 Billion is a lot of money to turn down, but I've never been in their shoes, so I can't say what I'd do.

I'd say they are. Not something I'd use, personally. But then again I've never been one to clip coupons; I just find it's not worth the time.

When I heard that I ran a quick EV% calculation and thought ... whaaa?

Goggle made a lot more than that, so while the price is high, even for the Valley, it is not unheard of.

not compared to an IPO

I don't know if Groupon made a mistake, only time will tell, but this statement irked me a bit:

VC: “Founders make different decisions when money doesnt matter. He doesnt HAVE to sell, so he can wait. He can do what he thinks is right for the business. He can focus on his legacy.”

This can easily be the other way around: the founder chooses to focus on his legacy instead of what is right for the business.

One nuance that I would add to your thinking. In the VC's eyes "right for the business" really means "swing for the fences." In a VC's eyes, taking risks that will kill a business 85% of the time but give 30x returns the other times are probably doing "what is right for the business" because of the structure of how they invest. In VC land, the big big wins pay for everything else. In that case, I would argue they should be strongly in favor of cashing out founders nicely when a business takes off. It is much easier to swing for the fences when you're not worried about striking out.

It's possible they were turning down the terms of the deal. If someone offered me 1M for my site, I'd take it in a heartbeat. If someone offered me 1M and I had to dance nude in the lobby for a year... I'd still take it. But some people wouldn't and observers would say they turned down 1M.

What if your $1MM site was giving you like $10K/mo and was still growing?

While not related to the content of the article, the title reminded of Eagle Computer. Its CEO, Dennis Barnhart, bought a Ferrari and accidentally drove over a cliff and was killed on the day of their IPO.


Not that it's actually relevant to the point of the post, but Andrew Mason rides a Vespa and lives in Ukrainian Village (not the most expensive real estate in Chicago). Apparently his big splurge was on a grand piano.

Source: http://chicago.timeout.com/articles/shopping/90800/groupon-2...

"I have worked hard to get my founders as little as $25,000 to pay off credit cards and student loans. Or, in a small deal that closed this week, I was able to get a founder the money so he can pay for his wedding and not have to worry about taking on debt."

Am I the only one who finds this despicable, and probably bad business too? The one person in the company making the most sacrifices, taking the biggest risks and working the hardest is the one that can't even pay for his own wedding. Even when there are millions floating around in VC money.

The founders personal problems have nothing to do with the business. Venture capitalists are investors, not life partners. You are rewarded for success, not effort.

Soylent green is people.

The founder's personal problems have everything to do with the business. If a founder's life falls apart, then it's the business that will suffer. Keeping founders poor is a great way to make an investment more risky.

Let's not veer off into crazytown here. I'm not saying the founders are irrelevant to the business. I see why you think I might have been. I'm saying that it's not despicable for venture capitalists not to care about the founders wedding. They are making an investment. Do I care about the well being of the guy who manages VFINX?

What percentage of the founder/investor drama you read about on HN comes from misunderstandings about that basic fact? 90%?

You can imagine a better world in which everyone worked together as a team to the betterment of all involved, but the reality is that you are in business, and there are going to be times when business doesn't give a sh#t about your problems.

I think this gets overlooked because we read a lot about a very specific investor who seems unusually attuned to the well-being of its investments. But they do that because it makes very good business sense, and because they've rigged their model so that the success or failure of any one investment is much less impactful than it would be at Battery Ventures; they have less incentive to be ruthless.

VCs shouldn't care about a founder's wedding -- but they should care about whether a founder is going to be stressed about going into debt to pay for a wedding.

A founder's personal life becomes relevant the moment it affects the successful management of the company.

I think everyone here is recognizing that. I'm only pushing back on the notion that words like "despicable" apply to investments and similar business decisions. They don't.

> Do I care about the well being of the guy who manages VFINX?

Well he is pretty replaceable...

And that's a business decision, not a moral one.

That being sort of the whole point of VFINX... :-)

PG has stated many times that he's investing in people just as much, if not more, than their ideas. It seems to me like part of investing is people is making sure their personal life is in order.

No, part of investing the way Graham invests is helped by caring about people's personal lives.

Don't forget, most VC funds make 1-4 investments per partner/year, invest huge sums of money, invest at a point where the business has a life beyond the founder, and require a home run return to move the dials.

Graham invests in many tens of companies per year. He invests a small amount of money. He invests at a point where there is nothing but the founder. And he's thrilled with Wufoo.

Should more firms invest the way YC does? Maybe, but remember that many YC companies depend, at the DNA level, on eventually getting an investment from a major VC.

J/w Have you ever taken angel/VC money and poured your soul into your company? I suspect not because regardless of what rationally might tell you - it's all VERY personal and any investor worth their salt knows how much stress you're under and that reducing that burden, even in little ways, helps so much. I've lived this and have given even a little more a month to good people because they needed to pay off bills, etc. Just FWIW...

I couldn't really understand this comment, but if the question is, have I, the cold-hearted asshole who made the parent comment, ever actually founded a company, taken money, and poured my life into it: yeah. Have. With VC and everything!

As the article points out, there can be sensible reasons for letting the founders cash out. The conflict between early exit (that sets the founders up for life) and risky home-run (that meets the numbers the VC needs) is classic. I saw it firsthand in the last startup I worked for. It caused a palace coup that replaced the management team. I understand the issue.

But what does that have to do with the question I responded to? Sorry, it's not despicable for investors to focus on their investment and not the personal problems of founders.

(If I'm wrong about what you meant, let me know and I'll delete this comment; I'm not trying to be antagonistic.)

I can't reply for nickpinkston, but I suspect what he was getting at is that some practises of VCs could be seen as unethical. If someone is deliberately making other people's lives unpleasant in order to make themselves rich, most people would regard that as unethical, and that's what VCs are doing if they prevent founders from getting money in order to keep them "hungry".

They're offering your company money. Their stipulation: the money has to go to the company. The founder can't take it and buy a car (or a wedding). This seems reasonable. The founder is hungry. So are hundreds of thousands of homeless people.

We're talking about using this to get peak performance out of your people. You can take the "everyone should be hard as nails forever or they're not a real entrepreneur"-type of position, but I think this is naive.

That's what we're talking about now, but note that this conversation didn't start out that way.

Meanwhile, note two things: first, that you may in reality be a lot more replaceable than you think you are, and second, that you are almost certainly perceived as being a lot more replaceable than you perceive you are.

As soon as you sell board seats, the question of your ruthless replacement stops being a moral issue and starts being a business issue. Venture capitalists aren't investing their own money. It is the case that their absolute most important priority is the protection of their investors money.

Were you the founder / CEO of any the funded startups you were involved with? Not an ad hominem, just wondering where you're coming from.

I think the fundamental issue here though is that there are massive costs of having an under-performing head founder. Replaceability is a massive risk (bad replacement, moral, public image, learning periods, etc.) compared to what it costs to keep the original CEO happy and driving hard toward the dream - assuming they're good in that position in the first place.

Equal-equity founder (not referring to my current company, Matasano, which we bootstrapped in 2005).

"Sorry, it's not despicable for investors to focus on their investment and not the personal problems of founders."

The question being begged is whether these two things are positively, negatively, or un-correlated. That has a whole lot to do with the logic of making the investment in the first place.

So, setting aside the "despicable" question, is it rational to invest in a startup where the founders have tons of credit card and student load debt, or planning a wedding they can't afford right now, without also putting some money into alleviating that pain? Do crushing financial burdens make founders "hungry," "panicked," or somewhere in between?

I think those are more interesting questions.

Look at startups the way Steve Blank does: as a series of experiments designed to discover and validate a set of product features that will meet a market need and that can be scaled to large numbers.

Now restrict your perspective to the stages of these experiments that A-round investors like Battery or First Round or DFJ concentrate on. In other words, stipulate that we're not talking about firms like YC that invest in 30-50 pairs of individual people they like every year.

What are the assets of these companies?

Yes, the founders are assets.

But so is the total team.

And so, to an even greater extent, are the proprietary results of the customer discovery/validation experiments they've been running.

And so, to an even greater extent than that, are the customers they have managed to close (or more broadly the "market traction" they've achieved) in the course of conducting those experiments.

And so is inventory, so is brand value, so is the core idea, so is the foothold in the market, so is the framework code they've built and the expertise in extended it, and so on.

Against all these assets, what's the real pragmatic cost of replacing the rare founder whose incentives have flipped so totally against the investors that he will drag the company away from the home-run outcome the investors need so he can salvage his personal life?

Now what's the cost of simply not giving a founder bonus money that itself might pose the risk of allowing the founder to disengage, consider a new startup, become obstinate in board meetings, etc?

I don't know, but I can see sane arguments in both directions for not giving VC founders liquidity.

The nice thing about not taking VC this time around: I don't have to give a shit. =)

Yea, I think we're actually the same page. It sounded like you were saying that things like making the founding team more comfortable (i.e. paying down loans or a wedding) weren't good investments - it sounded like a classic "arm-chair" type comment. But I think we're talking about two different things.

I think I'm still on the side of letting the founders take some money off the table, but not satiate their hunger. I like Mark Suster's article on this:


Why is Thomas making so much noise on this thread?

(a) Because he is addicted to arguing about things on Hacker News.

(b) Because he takes pleasure in pointing out how ruthless the venture capital funded startup environment actually is.

(c) Because he believes that people who factor their blood, sweat, and tears into how they should be treated by investors have set themselves up for otherwise avoidable heartbreak.

(d) All of the above.


Despicable in what way? If someone is putting millions on the line to help realize your dream (for profit of course) you should respect the fact that they're investing to keep the company afloat, not to make your life (as a founder) easier.

People seem to equate not letting the founders cash out early with not letting them see a dime, which is not the case. They're getting paid (sort of) and in situations in which the company is no longer surviving on ramen they might even be well off in the grand scheme of things.

Think about it this way. Why should you, the founder, be given say 20k to pay for a wedding, while a early employee has to pay for it out of his own pocket. This is not a case of investors not being 'fair' and their decisions being despicable, it's a case of investors making a judgement call on good faith for the benefit of the company (for profit...).

Investors are not going to pay for your wedding as a founder because they're kind hearted or because it's the 'non-despicable' thing to do. They're going to invest in your personal life because it's a benefit for the business - plain and simple. No investor should feel they need to invest on you because it's morally correct (which is probably erroneous anyways), but if said investor feels there's a benefit to paying for your wedding/debt/porsche they will do it as a extra bit of investment on the company as a whole and not because it's a nice thing to do for your money making machine.

My solution: Get married when you do have money to pay for it. Most people save for months if not years to do so, regardless of if you're living on pizza boxes or fancy restaurants.

It's fair that the founders get a return on their investment when the investors do. Nothing despicable about.

I do agree that letting founders cash out can be good though if it helps them aim higher.

In some ways it's not a sacrifice for those people. If someone got me an investment and paid for my wedding so I wouldn't have to, while getting to work on a project with VC connections, have I 'sacrificed' all that much?

I get where you're going - there's plenty of 'entrepreneurs' (see earlier trending article) who give up stable jobs/raises/etc with no guarantee of a payoff. But the people who are getting VCs to pay off student loans aren't the ones making sacrifices (imo).

One could turn this around from an investor's point of view too. If this kid can't manage her finances well enough so that they need a $20k 'quick fix' to pay off their credit cards, why should I invest my money in her idea, or even her as a person? How are they going to run a business? If I as an investor have to put up the money and put up the 'experience', perhaps I can find someone else with better financial skills.

Many times those credit cards are used to pay for basic living expenses and/or even to bootstrap the business.

Having high cc debt does not mean they've been irresponsible.

Seems to be a double standard here...

Founders are expected to pour every ounce of their life into the business, which means they can't work a 9-5 to pay the bills.

Yet having debt is considered a bad thing.

Incurring untenable credit card debt for basic living expenses in the service of bootstrapping a company that ultimately needs VC funding is prima facie irresponsible. I'm not condemning it (I haven't been absolutely responsible with my own finances), but let's not sugarcoat it either.

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

Thank you. Just wish I hadn't been downvoted for my views earlier :)

$20k is hardly an irresponsible amount of debt. That's not something a year making software won't easily pay off.

In my mind this should even be on termsheets. Especially when VC is involved as it increases the incentive for an entrepreneur to go for the biggest possible exit instead of settling for something in the 10's of millions so that he can fill up his bank balance which is tending to $0.

First, an 8-figure exit is a outlying success for an A-round funded company. It is the king-high straight of startup outcomes. Twitter drew quad jacks; Facebook got a straight flush. You aren't going to draw a straight flush. Don't benchmark outcomes that way. A $900,000 dollar (gasp!) payday would be enormously tempting to most startup founders.

Second, you can't settle for a crappy exit your VC doesn't believe in. You sold them board seats. They will stop you, and then they will fire you. Are there companies with terms that make this less likely? Yes; they also got dealt pocket aces. Did you?

My point? Why would VC's include cash-out terms for their typical investment? The whole investment is predicated on the idea that you're going to make their numbers.

Imagine that you were making 200K a year before you founded the company. And being a founder you've taken a 40K salary. Suddenly its been 5 years, your startup is doing well with 2M of revenue per month but your still making 40K/y as the founder.

Lets say an exit is possible after 4 years of more work. For all intents and purposes, your founders have blown through their savings and are watching as their former (regularly employed) friends are buying houses (at least putting down large down-payments) and driving nice cars while he/she is living in some crappy apartment to keep costs down.

In this scenario, the sane thing in my mind is to help out the entrepreneur so that he can focus on making the company huge instead of quitting the startup so he can get a job paying $300K which would let him buy a decent house for his kids.

Everything in life is negotiable. Even the present terms in a termsheet are negotiable and I feel that this could certainly be one of them.

No founder/CEO of a profitable startup who was making $200k/yr before starting the company and then takes a VC A-round is making $40k/yr in her fifth year at the company. No such person is making $40k/yr the day after the first round of funding they take.

CEOs of VC-funded companies make market wages.

"The whole investment is predicated on the idea that you're going to make their numbers."

Serious question: at that point what is the qualitative difference with being an employee with lots of stock options? Isn't the point of being an entrepreneur that you get to drive the bus?

An age-old question. The answer I've gotten is, "if you're making your numbers, you're driving the bus; when you stop making your numbers, your investors take over the bus".

My ideal is to not have investors. That way I'm always driving the bus. It may be a short bus. It may be a bus with nobody else in it. But it's my bus, I'm driving, there's no drama and no risk of losing control or getting screwed out of ownership.

My ideal anyway. But I'm pragmatic so if there comes a situation that "fits" and where the positives massively outweigh negatives, so be it. Large enough amounts of money could get me to say, "Where do I sign?"

We started out looking for funding. We backed into consulting/bootstrapping. Consulting has sort of taken over our lives (it's lucrative, and we love the work), but we've never not had a full-time dev team. We joke, constantly, about how badly the company would have done had we been unfortunate enough to actually close a round.

When the author implied that driving a Porsche means not caring about money is exactly when I lost interest in his opinions.

The most interesting and successful (same traits, different present situations) owners in the Porsche communities I participate in cringe at the type of people who see it as a status symbol. It's about the connection to the planet/universe that you get from driving such well designed and engineered machines.

To the author's point, though, if they're driving it for the purpose of that alone, yeah, I'd question their integrity, too.

edit - spelling typo

And when you drive your own custom branded supercar -- we all know that you're never going to cash out: http://zondahh.com/

Pretty sure DHH is in a continuous state of "cashing out". He has no VC, in the sense being discussed here (they have a strategic investment from Bezos, but that isn't a VC relationship).

For folks thinking of working at a startup where stock options (and their potential) are part of the decision criteria, it is important to ensure that there is at least high-level alignment of goals and incentives between employees and founders.

the rest of us are scrambling up the slope to get to $5m, then we can relax. Founders who reach that goal and still command the helm and less inclined, nowadays more than ever, to jump ship and sit at a cafe with their laptop, trying to look busy and tweeting about their comeback. Its cold outside baby!

Never invest in a startup where the parking lot is full of Porsches and Ferraris... and don't ask me how I know.

Porsches are gauche. There's some lunatic who parks his DB9 on the street (3rd & King, if you're interested), which is a statement of utter contempt for us proles. "I don't mind parking my quarter-million dollar car at a meter because I have four more just like it at home".

I don't afford a Porsche. But if I could afford to buy one, I would still not buy it unless I could afford to park it anywhere. That is, there is a difference between affording to just buy a Porsche (perhaps as a status symbol), and affording to buy a Porsche and use it without care. I don't think that it takes a lunatic to park his DB9 on the street, just someone who bought the car just because he likes it and can do it. The feeling I get is that you are implying that a Porsche is a status symbol, whereas the owner thinks it's just his car, and does not care what any of "us proles" think.

Or maybe he just wants to park his car? Why should "proles" feel resentment for his success or parking place choice?

I don't think I'd park an Aston Martin at a meter, particularly in SOMA; I'm perfectly comfortable parking my $4k used Jetta there, but I've seen plenty of cars significantly less awesome than a DB9 vandalized on the street.

I'm sure he has insurance. What's the fun of a nice car if you are too paranoid to use it?

Totally - then again DB9s are a poor choice for a daily driver - at least a Porsche can survive the grind - try driving anything British or Italian daily - won't end well!

Millions of people drive Italian cars every day. Fiat is taking over Chrysler. You'll see modern Italian cars in the US soon. They are not like in the 1970s.

Sorry, I should've said I'm talking about British/Italian exotics... Ferrari/Lambo/Aston/etc. are quite unreliable long-term (i.e. over 30K miles), but Porsche is like the everyday exotic - they're actually great long-term and available in 4WD (the Carrera4, Targa4, Turbo at least). Then again the truly rare American exotics (Saleen S7, Mosler, etc.) are even worse, but next to no one even has seen them.

Certainly not a blanket statement about about those cars. I love Fiats/Alfas, and I'm glad they might be coming to the States soon. Though British cars have had a bad rap for a long time (from the Brit Leyland / Rover / etc. days) - Jag is still pretty boring and only Land Rover is at all relevant / reliable.

It might be true for cars like Jaguars and Ferraris from the 1980s, but not today.

Do you think a Ferrari California or Lamborghini Gallardo becomes unreliable over 30K miles? They are made to last much longer than that.

Most current Lamborghinis have 4WD, but 4WD is not really necessary unless you are driving up a steep icy, snowy hill daily.

Actually the biggest problem you'll run into with a Ferrari and similar in the states is that they ride so low that you will be continuously screwed by US speed bumps. Hearing the bottom of a Ferrari scrape against a speed bump is a truly tragic sound. For whatever reason Porsches actually do ride a bit higher, just enough to avoid speed bumps (although some curbs can still be a problem).

I learned that the hard way with my last car. A speedbump took off my midpipe! (pushed it up and the bolts snapped.. still intact just not connected) There was a good month when I was driving around Atlanta with a straight header V8.. surprised I did not get pulled over with how loud that thing was.

Hell - in my town my GTI scrapes all the time... I can only imagine having something lower. Porsche has the courtesy to put a replaceable black lip for the scrapes.

A quarter million dollars? You can get them second hand starting around 60k USD:


Seriously, come to London if you want to see this all the time. Walk through Mayfair and you'll see Porsches, Astons, Ferraris, Rolls-Royces, Bentleys parked on the street all over. It's crazy...

Sometimes it's not contempt, it's just what you need to do to get a parking spot. :)

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