Both Sides of the Table


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. Who in stead said, “That’s what Skype is for?”

Who cut you in on their bonus because even though you’re “just an sales engineer” they know you really deserved more credit for this deal. Who stuck out their neck for you and got you the important promotion.

We tell startup stories. We tell of the highs and lows. Sometimes they’re funny, sometimes stressful, sometimes heartbreaking. But they were are once reality and we lived through them.

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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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Mother’s Day. The one day a year where we recognize this all important figure in our lives who shapes our childhood providing unconditional love through our successes and failures with encouragement and support through our struggles.

I’ve written about my own mom before and the role she played in shaping my life but of course you never quite appreciate the full contributions of Mom until you’re much older.

To be a husband and a father is to experience ring-side seats to the amazing contributions that our wives – my wife – makes on a daily basis. So today should of course by Wife Appreciation Day as much as Mother’s Day.

Tania. Our two young boys are now at about the halfway point in their childhoods. We observe them in their daily lives and interactions with their teachers, coaches and friends and we look on with pride and the wonderful little human beings they have become. We have raised gentlemen who care about the feelings of others and are polite and respectful of their peers and instructors in life.

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