Both Sides of the Table


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.

Some of the episodes we’ll be recording in front of an audience. We’ve already done a couple at General Assembly Los Angeles, if you’d like to attend in the future – get updates by following here.

Here is episode 1 with Amit Kapur, CEO of Gravity. Amit is amongst the best liked and most admired tech professionals in Los Angeles and has a network that extends nationwide. His company was recently acquired by AOL for more than $90 million.

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Startups are hard. You’ve heard that a million times. Those that we survive with become family. It’s something you can’t know unless you’ve ever been in the trenches. Working hard together at a big company just isn’t the same.

 

 

The truth is you really don’t know how your teammates or your bosses will perform in good times and bad. You hire people who look good on paper. You join teams that got good write-ups on TechCrunch, have great VCs, have star CEO’s, whatever.

After 6 months – you know. You REALLY know. Which engineers dialed it in before a big release because it was during July 4th weekend? Who came in the office at 2am when the servers crashed – even on the night of the big company party. Who was willing to jump on a plan on a Sunday morning with a hang-over to make sure they were there the night before an important biz dev pitch on a Monday morning.

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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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I just returned from 3 days in Cincinnati including attending the annual meeting of one of Upfront’s LPs – Cintrifuse.

I have never been more optimistic about the impact that the tech startup community is having on cities in America or about the role that cities outside of San Francisco / Silicon Valley can play in our future.

Cincinnati, like many startup communities in the US over the past 5 years, has revitalized important regions in its urban core, created accelerators, built co-working facilities, pooled together angel capital, attracted VCs, involved educational institutions and solicited the help of important corporations in a more cohesive ecosystem. I believe the next 20 years will be an excited time of regeneration for Cincinnati and many more progressive communities across the country.

Why Now?

The “Infrastructure Phase” of the Internet …

Before we had an Internet startup explosion we needed infrastructure which spawned the original tech startup community in Silicon Valley. It required a diffusion of personal computers that led to the massive growth of Hewlett Packard, Intel, Apple Computers and others.

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In my Twitter bio is says that I’m “looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs,” which almost sounds like I was just looking for a cliché soundbite to describe myself. Yet along with “authenticity” they are two of the key attributes I look for when I meet with companies I may consider funding one day.

Passion is also the featured heavily in nearly every presentation I give to entrepreneurs or on college campuses or in talks with MBA students. We live in interesting times where working at a startup is glamorized to the point that many founders even refer to their team members as “rock stars,” which to my ears is cringe worthy. Great programmers are artists, for sure, but rock stars is about the last definition I’d choose.

We’ve gotten to the point where after the film The Social Network and now with our own ironic HBO drama “Silicon Valley,” (makes it sound like writing a algorithm can easily net you $10 million without trying) one might think starting a company is a bit like the gold rush where riches flow to you with ease.

The reality is quite the opposite. Running a startup is a grind. It wears you down.

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