Posts by Mark Suster


What I love about my job is getting to see teams of super-early-stage companies develop ideas that while raw have potential to make an impact on the market. I love the enthusiasm, the boundless energy and the sense of possibility that comes from having an idea that hasn’t yet been beat up in the marketplace of competing ideas, customer contracts, VC skepticism, jaded journalists or fickle consumers who are on to the The New, New Thing.

If I could bottle this moment and spend all my time here I would be in heaven. But alas I must scale with businesses and make money. And so must you.

Growing a startup is such a tricky balance between staying cost-focused & scrappy versus being impractical with how you spend your time. Clearly the founders and senior executives of a company are the most valuable resources and their time should be maximized on the most valuable tasks. Yet after a seed round of $2 million many are still doing Quickbooks entries, booking hotels & airplane tickets, negotiating offices leases and digging through employment benefits, legal contracts and such.

For a well-funded seed company I have recommend hiring a great office manager that doubles as an administrative assistant. This is all about “leverage” which is the key to success. I can’t tell you how many people have thanked me for this advice and say their productivity increased exponentially.

For a well-funded A or B round company I have written about “leveling up,” which entails many things but in summary I tell people to “act your stage.

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We recently released the video sharing app Ferris and announced that Upfront Ventures led the funding in the company in our seed round of $2 million and I personally joined the board.

We hit the top spot recommended on Apple’s iOS App Store on the day of the launch, which is a testament to the team and all of their hard work. I wanted to spend the rest of the blog post telling you why we decided to fund the company, how we settled on the final product design and our unique way of launching the app.

I’d love it if you’d take a moment to download the app and tell us what you think. Yes, we’ve only launched on iOS for now. That was just a question of limited resources and wanting to get V1 right. We will port it to Android ASAP after our first rev of proper user feedback.

So Why Did We Invest?
As a VC (especially based in LA), I see hundreds of video apps.

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Why do we do all that we do?

Is it for the money? The recognition? Is work a part of life and life a part of work? Is it just the next rung in the ladder after we finish college and join the next grouping of people we’re tied to for a brief period in time?

These aren’t generally the thoughts of  20-year-olds. That is the age where you do more than think. “Of course I work!”

They aren’t often the thoughts of 30-year-olds. You finally accumulate some amount of money. You’re no longer entry-level. You think of coupling, of family, of work/life balance and you begin to feel the weight of a responsibility in the world you never had.

I think the “why” often begins in the 40’s. You’ve had enough ladder climbing alongside peers to form some sense of human motivations. You’d seen enough set backs in lives and careers to take it all a bit more seriously. Often you’ve gotten through the drowsy years of diapers and playgrounds and set the basic trajectory for your children if you chose to have them. Most of us party less often, almost never cart off last minute to some island for frolicking and almost definitionally become less narcissistic.

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I was contacted today by Matt Lauzon, the founder of Dunwello, who I had met previously when he was running his startup Gemvara. I always liked Matt and found him to be quite thoughtful so I enjoy when he reaches out.

This time it wasn’t pleasant.

He was asking me for a simple favor. He wanted me to read some information and if I felt both moved and comfortable he wondered whether I would retweet him. I couldn’t. Not because a retweet was hard for me but because it wasn’t enough.

I used to write personal posts on these pages and I mentioned earlier in the year I would do so from time-to-time. Now seemed the right time.

Matt brought to my attention an issue that deserved increased awareness on multiple front: Police abuse, police cover-ups and child molestation. Why do I feel compelled to write about this? Aside from wanting to help out a colleague and decent person – I also can imagine how hard it must be for somebody in our society to be public about something as traumatic as sexual abuse. It was the second such instance in the past month where this had come up.

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Many of you will know that Twitter unexpectedly cancelled it’s contract to allow DataSift to resell Twitter data to 3rd parties. I read the declarations by industry analysts on Twitter that this was “proof that you can’t build a business on somebody else’s platform” and perhaps DataSift should have known better.

This misunderstands the situation so I want to clarify things a bit. DataSift was never built on a single platform and never desired or expected to be Twitter’s re-syndication provider as its sole business.

Let’s start with the most important fact that wasn’t discussed. DataSift was selected as the topic data supplier for Facebook, which allows companies to analyze a data feed that is > 20x larger than the entire Twitter feed and creates privacy-safe insights from a network of 1.4 billion people.

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