Founders Speak Out About Shutdown: 'It's Disgraceful,' says Sandy Lerner
BY Jeremy Quittner
For the Cisco co-founder, Steve Case, and Gary Vaynerchuk, it was business-as-usual today. But concern went to startups seeking SBA funding, and furloughed employees.
For many entrepreneurs, it's business-as-usual, as they get back to work following the shutdown of the federal government Monday night.
This is especially true for owners who lead consumer products or business services companies, and don't depend on government contracts for revenue. For now, those parts of the economy seems stable.
For some perspective, Inc. reached out to a dozen well-known entrepreneurs. Most did not make themselves available to comment. Their lack of response stands in marked contrast to entrepreneurs of smaller, lesser-known companies, many of whom deal directly with the government, who were eager to talk about--and disparage--the shutdown earlier this week.
Here's what they had to say.
Gary Vaynerchuk: People Go on Defense--I Go on Offense
"I never pay attention to them," oenophile and media entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk said via Twitter, referring to financial crises, including the federal government shutdown and the impending threat of default.
"My best business years have been in worst 'global business years'," Vaynerchuk wrote, adding such periods are a great time to go on the offensive, rather than retrench.
Steve Case: Politicians Are in the Way
AOL founder and current Revolution chief executive and chairman Steve Case said it was necessary for politicians to rebuild a political center, and to negotiate.
"Don't like it," Case said hours before the shutdown on Monday, during a sit-down meeting at Inc.'s New York offices. "There is a difference between policy and politics, and politicians have gotten in the way of good policy."
What's needed is quiet diplomacy, rather than the shrillness of the current debate. And the fault is not only with politicians.
"As citizens, we are to blame too," Case added.
Sandy Lerner: What's Going on in Washington is a Disgrace
Serial entrepreneur Sandy Lerner, a Cisco co-founder, founder of cosmetics line Urban Decay, and owner of organic meat farm Ayreshire Farm, said she was most concerned for the furloughed government employees and other consumers who are unwitting recipients of the economic blowback caused by the shutdown.
"I don't think the shutdown does anything except jerk the lowest-level government employees around, the people who really need the money," Lerner wrote in an email. "It's disgraceful. I propose that the legislatures lose 10 percent of their annual salary for every day the government is shut down, including weekends."
If that doesn't work, Lerner says the penalty should be increased to 20 percent.
Howard Tullman: The Shutdown Will Hit Startups Hardest
Serial entrepreneur Howard Tullman, who is currently chairman of Chicago's Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy and managing partner of High Tech Investment Partners, said the shutdown would be felt most intensely by startups.
Tullman says on Wednesday morning he met with a startup coffee roaster in the middle of a growth spurt. The company owner was expecting a Small Business Administration loan of about $150,000, which he intended to use to buy more equipment. But the coffee entrepreneur discovered today that loan has been put on hold due the government closure, which also shuttered the SBA.
"Our economy depends on growth and innovation and entrepreneurship," Tullman said.
What's necessary, Tullman says, is for both Democrats and Republicans to come to the table and split the difference.
"But," he added, "Obama is so fixated on [the Affordable Care Act] as the only thing he's accomplished, he is not willing to move.