My pal Dave has blogger Tourette’s. He has it on stage, too, at conferences. He can’t help himself: He’s Dave.
I think he could say “no” a bit more. I’ve told him that if a vet just clipped his wings a little bit I think it would be good for his health.
He is tireless and works his arse off. Sometimes balance can be good for the health, soul, personal happiness and … performance. But he knows that. We all could learn a bit more about balance, as Brad Feld has outlined.
My pal Dave occasionally presents “headline risks” for investors. I’ve been told so.
I told my pal Dave that we needed to “fix this.” I told him only 2 weeks ago when we were in London together that I wanted to write a blog post that has been in my head for 2 years.
I told him I wanted to call it, “My Pal Dave” to explain the disconnect for me between how the public perceives Dave and the real Dave I know. I told him that I thought many in the industry would also weigh in. It seems some of the most respected (Fred Wilson) already have.
I would love for prospective investors in Dave’s fund to call me personally to learn about “the real Dave.”
Dave might just ACTUALLY take over the world. He travels tirelessly promoting entrepreneurship, understanding global trends and building relationships in all parts of the world.
But Dave is Dave. Foul mouthed. Chain smoking (cloves). Brawling (metaphorically). Brash.
I doubt he owns an item of clothes worth more than $20. When we went to meet Hillary Clinton in China he wore a t-shirt and sandals.
Dave is terrible with email. He’s so bad that his email auto-responder tells you he likely won’t email you back.
Tourette’s Dave who loves a good fight is the Dave you know.
Not the Dave I know.
The Dave I know is very humble. And thoughtful. If you haven’t read his latest missive about himself, you should.
The Dave I know, I’ve known for 6 years.
My pal Dave doesn’t visit the right side of the Haimish Line – he lives permanently on the right side!
I knew him well before he became a VC. I knew his as he considered becoming a VC and we talked a lot about how it was going for me in my early years.
I knew Dave when he had just finished his stints at oDesk and SimplyHired. These engagements went well and he came highly referred by my friend Gary Swart who runs oDesk.
But they didn’t go as well as Dave might have liked. Neither did his stint at Mint.com as Dave has himself acknowledged.
I think my pal Dave is unemployable.
I think I am, too.
My guess is that many VCs are. And so are most startup CEOs for that matter. Many through history became entrepreneurs precisely because they were unemployable.
Just ask the founder of JetBlue (Azul Brazilian Airlines), Dave Neeleman. He is profiled in my favorite book about ADHD, Delivered From Distraction, where the author talks about high-performance ADHD professionals.
He talked about how Neeleman worked at Southwest Airlines but couldn’t keep his job because at management meetings he was too impatient to sit through a bunch of corporate bullshit without speaking up and saying it was wrong.
Sound familiar? Kind of like … you? I know it’s like me. I blurt out all the time when I’m at meetings where people are wasting time lollygagging. I have a low boredom threshold and intolerance for time wasters.
Sound like our pal, Dave? Sure.
The Dave I know is quiet. And reflective. And thinks a lot about how to perform better. How to be better. How to help his companies.
The Dave I know is old school. In all the best ways. The same ways that Fred Wilson is. The Dave I know is loyal. He picks up the phone when he wants to discuss a deal with you. He doesn’t email you.
The Dave I know is a tireless traveler and loyal to his friends the way Brad Feld is. This Dave knew I was running an event on “the future of television” that was important to me. So he made a special trip to LA to be there for me. Brad does this kind of thing for people.
The Dave I know is very insightful about marketing, channel management and building developer ecosystems. He has strong opinions that are well informed. When you discuss them in person he is very reasoned, articulate and dispassionate. When he writes them online his Tourette’s comes out and sometimes the substance gets lost in the style.
When my pal Dave started his venture fund, 500 Startups, he was ridiculed. “How can anybody do 500 startups?”
I have to admit I felt the same way. Hell, I can barely manage 10 investments – how could anybody do 500?
But Dave has exceeded my expectations. He has brought in a very talented team to work with him. I wish more people knew that it isn’t just Dave. People like Paul Singh, Christine Tsai and my old pal Christen O’Brien are great.
He had a philosophy that the future competition for startups would be design led and based on data analysis. Sounds obvious. Wasn’t when Dave started championing it and making it a tenet of his incubator class.
My pal Dave has very loyal friends in the VC world who would go to bat for him any time. I’m one of them.
I used to comment that Ron Conway is “the S&P 500 of the startup world” – the index, the barometer of how the startup world is doing. I used it in the context of a compliment as in, “Ron can get into any deal that he wants to. I don’t know an entrepreneur or a VC who wouldn’t cut him in on any deal.” To build a true index you need to be in a wide cross-section, which includes the absolute best deals as well.
When Dave started I commented to him that I thought he would need to be the same to be successful. That he would have to have just about any entrepreneur want to work with him. And just about any VC willing to cut him in on important deals and happily have him on the team.
That’s what I think my pal Dave has achieved. He’s loved by both sides.
My pal Dave will be successful – I am sure. I think he’ll also do well financially. He really only needs a DropBox or Airbnb in his portfolio to do so. And from what I can tell he now getting the same quality of entrepreneurs and may already have the seeds of a great company within his stable.
The Dave I know I would back any day. His motives are all the right ones. He isn’t personally driven by making a quick buck and I’ve seen him go out of his way to help entrepreneurs.
Now if he could just get out of his way by hiring a Tourette’s editor who won’t let him hit publish on his blog or Twitter feed until it has been reviewed.
But then again, I guess it wouldn’t be my pal Dave if he wasn’t kicking up dirt somewhere.
We all love you, Dave.
And I do, too.
Now get back to fucking work.