If you've been around Silicon Valley long enough, you've heard the stories of which companies screwed which founders out of what cash. It's happened plenty of times, though there's always the other side of the story, which never gets much attention. However, it should never come as a surprise around here. In some ways, then, it's amusing that the founders and early employees of Epinions are now whining that they got cheated out of their millions from the Shopping.com IPO last week. Shopping.com, of course, was formed by the merger of DealTime and Epinions -- but that merger wiped out most of the stock option value for early Epinions employees. What's amusing about this case, was that when Epinions was formed, in 1999, it was heralded as the new model of startups. It was, after all, "the second generation startup" -- founded by a team of folks who had all come from previous hot startups, and believed they could recreate the magic at a new one, doing it much, much faster. Of course, the world caught up to them and taught them that it takes more than a bunch of folks who have done it before to build a successful company. So, for all that "experience" that went into making this second generation startup, no one ever learned some of the more important lessons of Silicon Valley -- especially the one about counting your cash too early.
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