Lesson 4: Not Every Disaster is a Disaster

A corollary to yesterday’s lesson about some elements always being out of your control is that not every disaster is a disaster — as we learn from Frank:

In September 2004 category 4 Hurricane Ivan slammed into the Cayman Islands. Schilling had gotten his family on the last evacuation flight off Grand Cayman before the storm hit. Though they were safe their home was destroyed along with everything in it. Their cars were also wrecked but the biggest loss was their computers and critical domain data they needed for the audit Marchex required to complete the purchase. It would take months to rebuild the information and as that process dragged on the deal dissolved as Marchex focused on concluding the Yun Ye purchase.

This would have crushed me. You’re this close to a check for over $100M dollars and then — bam — you’re not. I guess still having eight figures in revenue annually would be a pretty good remedy for feeling too awful bad about it, but still.

Look how it turned out, though.

[T]he missed opportunity proved to be a blessing in disguise as Schilling’s portfolio has soared even higher in value and if sold today would command considerably more than the 2004 offer. “I have been approached about selling my business five times over the past four years,” Schilling told us. “Each offer was extensive and written, three of them were accompanied by deposits and all were nine-figure deals of ever increasing magnitude. I seriously worked with each suitor. Things just never worked out for one reason or another and I take that as a sign of sorts. I suspect I will sell my business one day but I am reasonably certain I will never leave the name business entirely, nor would I want to. This is too good a space.”

So not only did he land on his feet (have you read about the new house he built to replace the one that was destroyed?), the business he almost sold for $100M three years ago has probably now increased at least another $100M and business is so good that he’s not really looking to sell at all now. Not a bad result from what, by all appearances, was a complete disaster.

This article, “Not Every Disaster is a Disaster,” is Lesson 4 in the Lessons from Frank Schilling series.