Both Sides of the Table


I was waiting for my son’s basketball game to start this morning and with the morning’s emails all drained I turned to Twitter and saw this Tweet from Marshall Kirkpatick

Test: open your twitter stream, look at the 1st item in it, think of something to say in response, say it. Theory: it’s really that simple.

— Marshall Kirkpatrick (@marshallk) January 24, 2015

I consider Marshall a business friend. A fellow thinker and tinkerer of technology. Somebody I respect. And like. But here’s the thing – I honestly can’t remember how many times I’ve actually met Marshall in person? I know him really through online and from that we’ve had phone calls to debate his business and such.

It’s an online relationship and I actually believe that as of 2015 I’ve met more of my close connections in the past 5-7 years online before offline. Brad Feld. Fred Wilson. Tristan Walker. And many, many more. Some through blog comments – your place or mine. Some on Twitter.

I responded to Marshall’s obvious comment bait with “I’m always surprised more people don’t engage.” So many friendships or acquaintances start online.

I was reminded of that when Shafqat Islam weighed in:

@msuster@marshallk I built relationships via twitter and blog comments with both of you well before we ever met! years before…

— Shafqat Islam (@shafqatislam) January 24, 2015

It’s true. I knew Shafqat as a reader on my blog and then I was introduced to him on a trip through New York. His personality is infectious and we instantly became friends.

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Any reader of this blog for a period of time will know that I’ve been long YouTube for years. Along with Greycroft, I was the first institutional investor in Maker Studios (sold to Disney for nearly $1 billion) and am still the largest investor in Mitu Network, the largest online video producer of Latino content. We have made 5 online video investments in total – some we will talk about later this year.

The reasons I have been long on YouTube specifically are very simple:

YouTube now has > 1 billion uniques / month. This is 14% of world population and 33% of all people online.
A new generation of content producer and video style has emerged that is distinctly different from what you see in TV. 40% of all of YouTube is viewed on mobile devices and of high-quality content I believe it is between 60-70% based on my insider data.
The stars of tomorrow are being built on these short-form formats. It’s hard to understand this until you attend something like VidCon and watch youth interaction with their “stars.

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I used to love blogging.

For me it was always a creative outlet. I love sitting down – often in “one take” like a classic film – and capturing what was on my mind at the moment. What I loved about it was that my thoughts were instantly in the ether, I would get quick feedback from readers and I would know where my ideas stood in the world of ideas. If what I said was shit I knew it instantly. If what I said was clever but I said it with less empathy than I should have – I knew that, too.

Blogging proved to be a great way to hone my ideas, have public conversations with people and as it turns out – build meaningful relationships through public dialog that spilled over into the real world.

Somewhere along the way blogging changed. From the very first time I listened to Airplanes by B.o.B. it resonated.

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Whew!

We’ve been dying to tell you all for a while that we had raised a new venture capital fund and of course given SEC filing requirements the story was somewhat already scooped by the always-in-the-know Dan Primack a few weeks ago.

We raised $280 million. Our last fund was $200 million but as you may already know since we raised that fund we added new partners Greg Bettinelli and Kara Nortman and Venture Partner Hamet Watt – all of whom are busy looking at new deals for the firm in addition to Yves Sisteron (the founder), Steven Dietz (also part of founding team) and myself.

The speaks to the continued confidence in the venture capital markets and

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I spend a lot of time with startups and thus hear many companies talk about their approach to sales and their interactions with customers. From these meetings you can really tell the leaders that care deeply about their customers and those the look down on them. Given customers & sales are the lifeblood of any organization you’d imagine everybody would respect their customers. You’d be very wrong.

I was thinking about it this week through some snippets of recent experiences.

Starting with a positive. I had dinner this week with a top new customer at one of our enterprise software investments. I wish I did more enterprise software investing because when I attend meetings like this I realize that this is my core DNA – rolling out business software solutions to customers. The entire dinner was a discussion of what it would take for our software to help this customer be successful, what he liked about it and where we needed to improve. It was a personal discussion and you could tell that our senior leaders and he shared friendship as well as respect and admiration.

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