I spoke earlier this week with a young founder, a couple of years out of college, and the conversation has moved me to rant. Not a rant about inexperience, though. Inexperience has its advantages, and experience has its disadvantages. This is a rant about taking on life risk.Read More
The last decade has seen an explosion, worldwide, of organized entrepreneurship. Angels, seed funds, mentors, coaches, accelerators and incubators have proliferated (as have VC firms). And a (good) blog post can be found on just about every minute aspect of building a technology business.Read More
It's been an extraordinary few days in Silicon Valley — a high-profile VC firm has been “blasted off the earth” and the industry is reacting in unusually visible ways.
The reactions have varied from the half-assed apology to the pre-emptive apology to the we-took-care-of-it apology to the high-minded-appeal-to-principles apology to the apology-of-the-day apology, from prominent VC firms (Lightspeed, Lowercase, 500Startups, Greylock and Binary respectively). Sadly all immediately put one in mind of Captain Renault in *Casablanca*.Read More
Tim O'Reilly recently wrote a great essay on the virtues of not raising external capital. It led me to reflect on one aspect of having outside investors that can feel like a gigantic chore -- reporting. This is irrelevant if, like Tim (or Craig Newmark), you haven't raised external capital. But if you have, these five guidelines might be worth considering:Read More
Because I do so much long haul travel, I feel somewhat qualified to opine on the United-Dao saga. The current narrative misses two key things. The far more important one is the fact that the TSA was handed sweeping authority over travel in the post 9/11 dispensation.Read More
Over the years I've had hundreds of conversations with CEOs about "the next round". This usually takes the form of a question: "What metrics do I need to hit to raise the next round?" In itself the question is rational; what is troublesome is when the question is asked right after a round has been raised, and when business decisions are made based on a theoretical future raise.Here are five concrete reasons to spend little time thinking about the next round in the context of building your business.Read More
Earlier this week I took the GRE. I'm middle aged, not going to grad school (well, not any time soon), this is an extraordinarily busy time for me, it's several hours in the middle of the work day, so how did this make any sense? Three reasons (which may still not add up to much sense):Read More
I've been reflecting recently on how the VC-founder relationship evolves with time. As I see it, a VC's job falls into three buckets: 1. Cheerleading; 2. Helping to solve problems ("adding value"); and 3. Holding management accountable. The mix between these changes as companies grow. At the seed stage it's mostly buckets 1 and 2; at the Series A stage it's more of bucket 2, some bucket 3, and a fair dose of bucket 1; and at the Series B stage and beyond, it mostly bucket 2 and 3 with a bit of bucket 1.Read More
Every year, at about this time, I and over 10,000 of my fellow alumni interview applicants to Penn. Penn seeks to offer alumni interviews to all of its undergraduate applicants -- this year, that number is over 40,000. It's a major logistical exercise, and works only because Penn is committed to it and because alumni freely volunteer their time.Read More
Here’s the best of what I read in 2016. All, to varying degrees, enlightening, entertaining and infuriating. It was tough to winnow down to a short list — this was a decent reading year.
I offer a line or two of commentary on, and a quote from, each work. The titles link to the Amazon Kindle page for the book. Page numbers are provided for the quotes if available and Kindle locations if not..
P.S. The answer to one obvious question is “on far too many long haul flights”.Read More
The nature of human communication — that which makes us an animal unlike any other species — is now at a remarkable juncture. The revolution that started with the telegraph (the first innovation that allowed for communication faster than the velocity of animal power) has accelerated to the point where human society is being radically transformed. The world we know is ending; it is being made anew.Read More
In the fall of 1995 I cold called Jeff Bezos. I was an associate at General Atlantic, a growth-stage investor in software companies. I was the first VC to call him; he took the call and we got along well immediately, in part because I’d found my way to him after purchasing this weird and compelling book on the Amazon web site.Read More
I read many of the new histories published during 2014, timed to coincide with the one hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the First World War. These benefit from new research and greater distance from the conflict. But an older work still stands out: Paul Fussell’s critique of English writing about trench warfare, The Great War and Modern Memory.Read More
I’ve lived, as a VC investor since 1992, through three significant corrections: ’99-’01, ’08-’09, and (I think) the present. Here are my five easy pieces to help founders stay paranoid:Read More