Looking back at 2008, looking forward to 2009

As I had expected, 2008 was a year of consolidation. OLX continued to grow slowly but surely – we now have 115 employees and are present in 80 countries in 39 languages. I traveled far and wide for OLX and hope there will be less business travel in 2009.

On the personal side, I was hampered by a meniscal tear in my left knee and a right shoulder injury, both sustained playing tennis, which put me into rehab and out of the gym, tennis courts and extreme travel for most of the year.

I did manage to go skiing in Snowbird/Alta and Whistler, race dune buggies in the Baja and kite board in Venezuela.

My fantastic girlfriend is also helping me continue work (painstakingly slowly) on my open mindedness, patience, humility and cleanliness (a pet peeve of hers).

The best books I read in 2008:

My best blog posts in 2008 were:

I suspect 2009 will be another year of slow growth:

  • It will still be too early to tell whether OLX will be a success or not – it will probably take another 3-5 years to be able to assess where we stand.
  • Several of my portfolio companies (14 at the latest count) are unlikely to reach breakeven and survive the year.
  • I don’t think we will see an economic revival in the US as I suspect that further mortgage resets and deterioration in car, home equity and credit card loans will put further pressure on banks, which combined with an increase in the savings rate, will counteract the liquidity increases of global central banks and the fiscal stimulus.
  • On the bright side, I look forward to playing tennis again which I should be able to within a month after nearly a year off the courts!

Happy New Year!

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  • ** open mindedness, patience, humility and cleanliness **

    OUCH.

    One of my cleanly friends was once talking to another friend of the same ilk.

    Person A said “gee I have to put my shoes away at night on a shoe stand.”

    Person B says “Yah I do too but I have to make sure to put the shoe laces down the tops of the shoes”

    —- a few days later —-

    Person B says to Person A “Ever since you told me the thing about the shoe laces I have had to start doing that!”

    I was listening in and realized that making up cleaning ideas for compulsives can be fun. Every time person B would stop by I would have a new cleaning tip for him. ( in spite of the fact my place was really not clean at all )

  • Dear Fabrice,

    hope you had good start in 2009.

    I am bit curious about the reasons why you expect that some of your portfolio companies won’t survive 2009 whereas others will. If your time permits, it would be very interesting to know.

    Best,
    Thomas

  • Thomas:

    My logic is as follows:
    * A number of my portfolio companies have less than 12 months of cash in the bank.
    * They are unlikely to raise new capital in this environment.
    * They are doing their best to cut costs and raise revenues, but I don’t think all will reach break even before they run out of cash.

  • Thanks Fabrice,

    it does make completely sense. Of course for a first time entrepreneur like me I would have never been able or would never have dared to invest my money in a venture which would take a long time to reach break even.
    For a portfolio investor like you it was maybe the right way to go.

    Again thanks for your insights, I really enjoy reading your posts.