Shortly after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos headlined a $5 million equity round in the scrappy young media brand Business Insider in 2013, its editor and co-founder, Henry Blodget, jumped on a commercial flight to Seattle, squeezed his lanky frame into a coach seat, and set off to pay homage to his new angel investor.
It was an intoxicating moment for Blodget, a onetime star Wall Street analyst whose career in the financial industry ended in disgrace when, in 2003, he settled fraud charges related to several companies he had analyzed during the late-1990s tech bubble.
By 2013, a decade had passed, and Blodget’s days as an analyst were arguably best remembered for his bullish views on Amazon, whose stock price he predicted in 1998 would rise from $240 to $400 a share — which it quickly did.
Amazon now trades north of $3,000, and Blodget’s Amazon call is seen on Wall Street as one of the most prescient in the history of technology. Yet it had been controversial when Amazon was awash in red ink. Even in March 2014, when Bezos led another round in Business Insider, this time for $11.9 million, Amazon still had plenty of high-profile detractors.
“He didn’t travel eagerly,” recalls Julie Hansen, Business Insider’s president and chief operating officer at the time. “He scrutinized every trip, but he couldn’t get on that plane fast enough to Seattle when the opportunity arose.”
During the long flight to the West Coast, Blodget remembers writing a single-spaced, multipage memo explaining why he thought Business Insider could reach $50 million to $75 million in annual revenues.
Those numbers “seemed gigantic at the time,” he says.
But Bezos was sanguine.
“I think you can get a lot bigger than that!” he told Blodget, who now admits, “As usual, he was right.’’
Read my story of Henry Blodget’s journey here: