From the Editor's Desk Sam Shank, 43, (CEO of HotelTonight) was like a lot of other startup CEOs, flush with cash from earlier rounds and so focused on the day-to-day he didn't notice that VCs had suddenly become parsimonious. After a painful but quick round of layoffs, he told his employees that there would be no more layoffs and that the company was aiming to become profitable by August without killing growth. Employees started making decisions based on whether it improved the company's earnings. They slashed marketing, stopped wasting money on discount sites and coupons, and added features that led to more app users booking rooms. The company cut its annual infrastructure costs by $500,000 - a 40 percent drop - by renegotiating licensing deals, moving from one software platform to another and so on. One employee won a weekly "Frugal Not Cheap" award by simply telling a credit card processor they wanted to pay less, saving $8,000 per month. Every week, Shank updated the company on its burn rate, and every morning, employees got an e-mail with such key metrics as gross bookings value, year-over-year growth and gross margin. HotelTonight turned profitable in April and things are going well enough that Shank is ready to say what much bigger startups continue to duck: He wants to take the company public, possibly by late 2017. Indian unicorns, are you listening?
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