Upfront Ventures


There has been much discussion in the past few years of the changing structure of the venture capital industry.

On the surface the narratives have been

The rise of “micro VCs” or seed-stage funds
The rise of alternative sources of capital (crowd funding and the like)
The poor performance of the asset class (this analysis has largely been wrong as I pointed out here –> most analyses were clumsy rear-view mirror looks at the data)
We are in a bubble (with so many private $1bn+ valuations)

15 years ago we were at the peak of Internet hype with the launch of many over-capitalized businesses with a market size & opportunity was limited.

Where are we today?

50x more Internet users (2.4 billion)
Online connections that are 180x faster (10.5 Mbps)
Always-on connectivity of mobile (164m US smartphone users)
We’re all socially connected (so great businesses spread faster)
We all have one-click purchase power (Apple, Google, Amazon, eBay)
The VC market has right-sized (returned back to mid 90′s levels & less competition)
Lower costs to start a business (95% reduction), many more companies created & funded by angels / seed
But it still takes VC to scale a business (thus large capital into industry winners like Uber, Airbnb, SnapChat, etc)

It doesn’t take a huge leap to see how well the VC industry is positioned for the immediate future. Limited Partners or LPs (the people who invest into VC funds) have taken notice as 2014 is by all accounts the busiest year for LPs since the Great Recession began.

You can read the narrative I’ve outlined below. If you want to watch a quick 9 minute video in stead I’m now including the video version of my presentation which was shot at the PreMoney conference

[Note

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Update: Bothsides TV is now available on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, or any RSS podcast player you use, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube. I also added a little Soundcloud widget on the sidebar (if you’re viewing on web – not on mobile or  RSS reader) that you can listen to each episode with.

In the most recent episode, I interviewed Joe Perez, Founder of Tastemade. If you don’t know Joe, you should. He has a long career in developing products and companies (such as Pogo, Excite@Home, Demand Media, The Daily Plate and now TasteMade) discussed much about his career choices and lessons.

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For 2 years I interviewed VCs & founders for a show called This Week in VC. If you want to see any back interviews you can click on that link. I’ve been promising to relaunch a new show for the past 18 months but needed to find somebody to help me with cameras, filming, editing, distribution, etc. Luckily the supremely talented Kyle Taylor joined Upfront Ventures and has helped kick me in the arse to get the show going again.

We’ve already shot three episodes, which will be published soon and I have committed to doing the show on a regular basis. Feel free to add comments below on speakers you’d like to see, topics you’re interested in or formats you’d suggest for the show.

The first Bothsides TV episode is now live! I’ve created a separate Twitter handle that I’ll use to share all this content. You can subscribe to the Bothsides TV YouTube channel as well – you’ll get an email update when we post new videos.

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Yesterday MiTú Networks announced that Upfront Ventures  led a $10 million financing in what is now the largest producer of Latino online videos – primarily driven through YouTube.

As you may know we co-lead the first round of financing of Maker Studios, the largest overall producer for online video content, along with Greycroft Partners. I was an early and tireless advocate for the growth of the Internet video ecosystem and as virtually every article I wrote made clear I believe the 800-pound-gorilla is YouTube and will remain so for the foreseeable future. If you want to build a strong online video business it almost certainly must make YouTube an important part of the strategy.

 

Last year at this time

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Amazon. It’s the company that evokes fear into more startups and venture capitalists looking to fund eCommerce businesses than any other potential competitor. Every pitch I’ve ever seen has led to the, “Would Amazon eventually do this? And could we then compete?” type questions.

But what if you could do the reverse of Amazon?

Amazon was early in spotting a macro trend – that physical, local retail had a few key disadvantages. The first is that it could carry limited inventory in stock because it had limited physical shelf space. The second is that the retailers were constrained by their high costs of local real estate and service staff relative to the costs of centralized warehouses where goods could be stacked high, sorted by robots, managed by RFIDs and then shipped via overnight to eager, cost-conscious customers across the US.

Today’s $24 billion storage market in the US has these same key disadvantages and that was the genesis of Sam Rosen’s initial idea for MakeSpace, which I initially funded 15 months ago.

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If you’ve watched any industry in the last 20 years where technology has begun to transform how the industry works the results are always predictable driven by what Clay Christensen appropriately called “The Innovator’s Dilemma” (one of the most influential books that changed my thinking about markets).

Young startups claim they are going to change the world, large companies that dominate that sector scoff at how low quality these new entrants are, until like frogs boiling in water they come to the realization that “this shit is real.” The next step is the industry tries to fight back.

TrueCar is the first ever Internet service that tells you exactly how much other people in your area paid for the car you want to buy. You enter your make, model, trim & year and out pops a price curve of purchases in your area and in most states you will then be offered a fixed price to purchase that car.

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