Bothsides of the Table


Anybody who reads the blog regularly will know that I’m long video. I’ve made 5 investments in the sector and I hope to make 5 more. Between the US & Europe alone the video sector is worth around $500 billion. And TV / Film / Video Games / Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality and frankly the Internet will all merge.

Western countries watch > 5 hours of TV per day. Why? Because we’re visual storytellers. We simply can’t escape our history as hunters & gatherers sitting around a fire and explaining the world to our community.

Sight. Sound. Motion. Equals emotion.

Emotion = recall. Recall + positive feelings = power to purchase or engage.

It’s why I so often talk about the Power of the Narrative. Stories are everything. And the best way to tell stories is visual. It’s why I have an online video show.

The best way to get across what your startup does is through video, too. In 30-90 seconds you can use visuals, story-telling, music, stats and humor to get across your message. Think of the best tech company at marketing that you know. I’m guessing most of you would say Apple. And think about how brilliant Apple is at conveying emotion and product features through video.

Much has changed in online video and many startups are stuck in a metaphor created 5-7 years ago. When video was becoming more popular a startup emerged to help startups tell their stories through video called Epipheo. They were cute videos that often had animation and humor mixed with tech speak.

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Unicorns.

The most overused word in the technology industry today. And they aren’t even fucking real. That is how absurd things have gotten. No, I take that back. THIS is how absurd things have gotten:

“I have to raise at a billion-dollar valuation”

“Why? You don’t have the revenue or profit to support that valuation.”

“But if I don’t I won’t be able to recruit the best people in the market. And every great company is raising at north of a billion dollars now so I need to in order to compete.”

“Ok. Well, if you choose the price, I choose the terms.”

“Deal.”

I can’t make this shit up. Can it be that Silicon Valley (the HBO show) isn’t farcical enough?

Yet in every great farce there is a lesson to be learned. And here is one take away from this current behavior that you take to the bank … The Power of the Narrative.

In November of 2013 Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures coined the term “

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Lawsuits. I’m so tired of the nature of the legal system in the United States where bullying, intimidation and mobster-like shake-downs are becoming prevalent. As I write these words I already imagine my next deposition in which I’m asked to read this out loud.

Lawsuits are becoming so prevalent these days. Even when I’m not the one being sued I find myself being dragged into deposition after deposition and my blog (along with all my emails) are being served as evidence. So I look forward to reading this to opposing counsel at the next deposition where I can tell them that I’m not afraid of appearing in court and I’m not intimidated into frivolous claims in search of shake-down money.

I often speak about co-founder fighting and how this ends in lawsuits but this has become much more prevalent. I’d encourage you to watch this quick 3-minute video with some views on what I call “The Co-Founder Mythology” that is perpetuated in Silicon Valley. The simple point is that if you control 51% of your company and/or the voting rights you can avoid a lot of headache and you can still be very generous with early people who join your mission.

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As an active investor in the Los Angeles technology market we’re always seeking to better understand the data and trends of why our market has grown so rapidly since 2009.

We look for pockets of excellence where we may have skills that aren’t native in other markets or where our home town may have some unique skills or talents.

Everybody now knows that LA produced SnapChat, Tinder and Maker Studios. They are getting a sense that as VR and AR become more an important part of the computing landscape that the history of film-making and camera innovations not to mention special effects and talent will continue  to propel LA’s tech market growth.

We set out to understand this market a little bit better along with our friends at CB Insights and I hope you find this data valuable as you try to understand the opportunity as it relates to your business. The report on the LA Tech Market can be found on this link.

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Amazon. It is a household name. It has become so synonymous with Internet companies that the French have invented a disdainful term including Amazon: “les GAFA,” which they refer to as Google-Apple-Facebook-Amazon to talk about American dominance of the Internet.

Try to imagine if you *didn’t* already know Amazon and the company walking into VC meetings telling people they were going to disrupt the selling of all goods starting with books but then extending into electronics, apparel, toys and so forth. It would hardly get a frothy reception for the first few years until it showed drones delivering the goods some 15 years later.

Amazon is emblematic of the sort of company that mostly disrupts industries *behind* the scenes. It wins through better distribution, logistics, inventory management, warehousing, customer support, merchandising, cross-selling and ultimately on price & scale. These are hard things to initially comprehend until you see them in full force as local retailers get wiped out due to their albatross of high real estate costs leading to either higher prices to consumers or lower margins on their p&l statements.

Thus Amazon’s market cap is $200 billion.

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