Both Sides of the Table


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. It’s full of mostly stresses and set backs. It requires absolute dedication, commitment and drive – even when things seem hopeless. We know that to succeed in the Olympics or in the NBA requires total commitment yet somehow many think to build a huge and successful startup one can do between cocktail parties. When I’ve seen extreme success up close (as in the case of Marc Benioff at Salesforce.com) I can tell you it comes with absolute dedication to being number one 24/7 to the point of crowding out nearly everything else in your life.

It’s why being an entrepreneur isn’t for everybody.

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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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Why I’m Now Long NPR

Why I’m Now Long NPR


Posted on May 10, 2014 | 0 comments

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a few brands & media properties that I truly love and for which I have huge loyalty. Virgin America. Uber. USAA. Jon Stewart. Fareed Zakaria. David Brooks.

And NPR.

NPR has been a part of my life for 25 years. As a news junkie and seeker of information, I’m that guy who always has his car tuned to KPCC everyday to get my daily dose of NPR. I know that everybody has their particular politics and I’m certainly not trying to espouse one point-of-view over the other in this post. But I find NPR and BBC to be some of the most thoughtful, unbiased and far-reaching (in topics) sources of mass-reach information that exist.

On road trips my wife fires up the app on her iPhone so we can stream Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Fresh Air or MarketPlace. One weekends sometimes I’ll zone out to “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell me” and laugh along. The shows are smart, clean, intellectual and thoughtful.

Car radio is a pure pleasure to me because it’s 25 minutes of unfettered thinking and listening time and a chance to make sure I  know about the world around me before the daily grind of work or the evening onslaught of kids and family responsibilities.

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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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I was having dinner with a friend last night and we were chatting about venture capital and a bit about what I’ve learned. I started in 2007 with a thesis that my primary investment decision would be about the team (70%) and only afterward about the market opportunity (30%).

I was telling him that it was much easier when I started because there were fewer deals, life was less public and somehow the world seemed to be spinning more slowly. A year into my tenure the world went into economic collapse and that seemed to dominate the consciousness more than which deals one was chasing.

Today we’re in a world where 10 accelerators are bombarding you with emails to meet their 10-15 companies. Seed investors are aplenty and of course they need downstream money to fuel their early-stage bets. Angels have been prolific for years now and they, too, rely on downstream money to cover their bets.

And we live in public so many people are able just to reach out.

And there’s conferences. Oh, the conferences. Disrupt. Recode. Web Summit. Collision. Fortune Brainstorm. Lobby.

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