Is it a must to fail before succeed? I would say disastrous failures can be avoided from learning from others. The real issue is that at the top positions, failures are defined differently: firms slow growth is pronounced as failure for CEO. So it is not hard to fail for those people.
Mark Zuckerberg will remain totally in control of Facebook. Lots of control is something that many CEOs have, but Zuckerberg will have something else entirely: he can’t be terminated.
So why IPO? Even if CEOs don’t need tosell their equity, they might want to anyway: there are third parties who want a claim in the company’s future and are willing to pay for it. That is, the IPO is a good way to get rich, quick.
Zuckerberg, on the other hand, appears to have studied the history of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs — notably, Steve Jobs — and placed heavy weight on not taking that risk.
But quite often, equity investors keep hold of the right to dismiss the founding entrepreneur, allowing them to audition a founder without significant risk. In the case of Facebook, Zuckerberg is basically saying that you’ll have to convince him, and not your fellow shareholders, that he isn’t up to the job.
So many of the great entrepreneurs, inventors, and creative people generally have had a life story involving a significant failure before their success. Zuckerberg has not had to face such a test. Every goal he has set for himself has panned out.