There is a sea change in process in how success in technology is defined, especially in the arenas of electronics, semiconductors and software. The number of customers, sales statistics, and technology leadership are all still important but not as all defining as they once were.
Options for IPOs, mergers and acquisitions are disappearing behind the massive potential of the private equity LBO. The ultimate success for a company is now to gain the attention of private equity and the industry consolidation that comes with it. That's not the easiest thing to do. Most of the startup companies (and there are more than 5,000 of them in the United States alone) lack sufficient research coverage for a VC or a private equity group to do the due diligence necessary to make a decision.
That means many companies with great technology and potential will go to a competitor in a fire sale or disappear from the market altogether.
The key to attaining modern success for small tech companies and startups is by raising the perceived value of a company to attract and LBO offer. The process of raising that value is the application of real public relations. Most people consider public relations to be only the development and distribution of news releases and bugging members of the press to interview a companies CEO.
However, the practice of public relations, as envisioned by Edward Bernaise in the early 1900s, is the "engineering of opinion in the marketplace of ideas." Press relations, news articles and trade show events are all part of that process, but not the whole. The whole comprises the process of creating a conversation in the market about high-level issues that, in the end, most benefit your company.