“All of this could be yours,” says the Investor, whose left hand on rests on my shoulder in a kind of avuncular way.
We're looking down on the courtyard from the third floor. The slight pressure the Investor’s hand exerts on my shoulder makes me feel just a teeny bit like the guy might be about to push me over the edge, plummeting to the courtyard’s mix of park benches, grass, concrete, and fountain below. Maybe the hand on the shoulder isn’t so avuncular after all. Why does it make me feel better that there’s a thick plate glass floor-to-ceiling window in between me and certain death?
“By 'all of this’ you mean…”
“This,” he says and turns me around by the shoulder, sweeps his hand across the room.
Most of the floor is visible since the previous tenants had vacated and taken anything of value, including, apparently, some of the walls.
Was this one of his previous investments?
“What are you working in now, a garage?” he asks.
“Ah, we have a small space in an office park. It’s not big but its open, and there’s a little kitchenette too, and we put one of those Keurig coffee makers in there so we can…"
“Jack, Jack, Jack. You play video games?"
“I used to. Haven’t really had time to since…"
“Jack, buddy, it’s time to level up. Like in video games. You know what that means, right?"
“Yeah, I get the reference."
“Of course you do, of course you do. Jack, you want to level up, don’t you?"
“Sure. That’s always been the goal. You know, to grow."
“That’s what I’m offering, Jack. With my investment, your company could grow. I mean seriously grow."
He's right about that. With his investment, we could grow like crazy."
“Come on, Jack. Be nimble. Be quick. Let’s jump over that candlestick. Together. You know what I mean? You know that nursery rhyme, right? Jack be nimble, Jack be quick…"
“Yeah, I get the reference."
“Yeah, you get it,” he says smiling and nodding knowingly. "You definitely get it. So what about it, Jack?"
I take a deep breath. This guy’s made me an offer bigger than anyone else’s. Twice as much. With that investment, we could do so much more. Exciting things. Innovative, game-changing things.
He says that owning such a large percentage is simply part of making a good investment and that he’ll be totally hands off on the day to day and won’t interfere with our vision. But still.
“You’re asking for a lot of control in return. I mean, this company is fulfilling a dream of mine. It’s tough to think about handing over so much of that."
“Jack, you know how many start-ups I actually seek out? Very few. Most of them are seeking me, begging me to invest in them. But you, Jack. You’ve got something special. And I can give you what you need. You have to have vision, Jack. You have to see the future. Feel the future. You have to know it in your gut, Jack, and mine’s telling me we have one hell of a future together.”
Mine is telling me not to take my eyes off of him.
He smiles, keeping his lips closed. I can’t see his teeth now. Does he have teeth? I’m sure he does. Probably. Are they sharp? Oh, that’s just crazy, why would they be sharp? He’s a handsome guy. I’m sure he has really nice teeth that aren’t at all sharp.
He’s standing in front of me now, my back to the window, and again, I’m really glad it doesn’t open. Is that a sign that I shouldn’t trust him, or am I being paranoid. I’m probably being paranoid.
Suddenly he’s brandishing a digital tablet and an expensive-looking stylus. Did he have that a moment ago? I don’t remember him having that a moment ago. Jeez, he's like the Highlander, pulling a gigantic sword out of nowhere.
“Jack, we worked out all of the details, just as we discussed. All that’s left is for you to sign here, and this instantly goes to both our lawyers, and the deal is done. And all of this becomes yours.”
A few minutes later, we’re walking back out of the building to the parking garage where my Corolla, slightly dirty, sits next to his pristinely clean BMW. As I walk, I look over the edge and can still see the courtyard below. I keep my hand on the rails as I walk. Just in case.