Entrepreneurs can have a “masters of the universe” complex. They can do no wrong. Until they do. The volume of cash flowing into the industry encourages hubris. According to CB Insights, some $105 billion may have been raised for venture-capital backed startups in 2016. One headline example: a mayonnaise buyback program by vegan-food manufacturer Hampton Creek looks like an attempt to inflate sales. They call it a quality-control measure; regulators think it may be accounting fraud. Within Silicon Valley, the scale of distortion ranges from exaggerated claims to outright deceit. These problems may be endemic to business. But the next time you hear a startup founder blindly dismiss criticism or undercut business-strategy questions, you may want to think about liquidating the investment. Or run to the exit. ■
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