Are Overseas Investors Better
Christopher Hartnett, CEO of USA Global Link, an aggregator of international long-distance phone services, has spent the last year searching for capital to fund the expansion of his company.
"I founded my company three years ago, and we've grown phenomenally -- 30% a month. Our revenues reached $96 million in 1994, and after just two years cash flow was positive.
"With that kind of growth, I thought getting capital would be simple. But bankers wanted all kinds of personal guarantees. Venture capitalists wanted as much as 51% of our stock. Investment bankers would give us bridge financing only if we would also commit to doing an initial public offering with them, without knowing what they would charge us.
"Eventually, we turned to Asian investors, and that's been exciting. Because they are smart, savvy, and very practical, they grasp our growth prospects and move quickly on capital commitments. I think we'll raise $10 million by selling 10% of our stock to them, and we're looking for another $10 million through a European deal.
"In certain economic ways, the United States has become a third-world country. Foreign investors think in bigger, more flexible terms than Americans do. The American financial market barrages entrepreneurs with This is the way we do it. Fill out this form. Write this prospectus. Well, we're going to leave U.S. investors in our dust. Their rigid attitudes don't fit with the current global realities and options that exist for our industry."