Bothsides of the Table

If you follow the Twittersphere you may have noticed several people weighing in on this recent piece by Mike Isaac of the NY Times, asking “How Many Angels is Too Many?

I found myself nodding through all of it with quotes like,

“Seed investing is the status symbol of Silicon Valley,” said Sam Altman

I myself coined the term ENIFA (everyone now is a fucking angel) in 2011 but it didn’t stick as well as the term Unicorn did. Ah, well. I was trying to cheekily suggest that it was the new status symbol. Sam is more succinct and well-stated than I and I’m guessing ENIFA wouldn’t make the NYT.

One of my favorite entrepreneur-Twitterer weighed in,

“You want to keep tapping into their collective intelligence so you keep saying ‘Thank you for the feedback’ and they keep sending it,” Ms. Morrill said.

“But then you are sitting there alone at 3 a.m. and you have to decide on just one thing to focus your tiny team on and your mind races like you had too much to drink but you’re totally sober.

“I love those Beats commercials where the basketball player puts on his music and tunes it all out, to go win the game,” she said. “That’s what it feels like.”

I love how open Danielle has been throughout the development of her startup Mattermark including honest reflections of when she has changed her opinion. They now have

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Many people are too cautious in sales processes and as a result when they present their solutions they end up sounding milquetoast and undifferentiated from anybody else in the market. In this post I advocate taking a harder stand on where your product or solution differentiates in the market – even if it means you lose some deals as a result.

I recently wrote about the three rules of sales

1. Why Buy Anything?
2. Why Buy Me?
3. Why Buy Now?

The first of question is about qualifying your potential customers aka leads. Many sales organizations or inexperienced startup CEOs spend their time with leads who either aren’t a good fit for their solution, aren’t decisions makers in their organization  or don’t have budget and therefore they aren’t likely to buy. I call these

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The Fourth of July. The day we celebrate American independence. It’s more about our celebrating what we love about our country than it is about winning a war.

Like many who live here I’m proudly American. It is the country that welcomed my forebears when others wouldn’t. My story is different from yours, but the same. We all came from different economic means by relatives willing to risk their lives and their livelihoods to stake out a new beginning in a foreign land that was often not immediately welcoming to people who were “different.”

My family is Jewish.

On my mom’s side they came from Poland and Lithuania and similar such places. They arrived through New York and eventually found their way to St. Louis, then Philadelphia and ultimately to Sacramento, CA. The turn of the last century wasn’t kind to Eastern European Jews so I guess the sacrifices of the pilgrimage were worth it. America wasn’t originally welcoming to Jews either. Even in the recent past we were excluded from many golf courses, country clubs and even universities and jobs.

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Posted on Jul 1, 2015 | 0 comments


when a technology startup, its investors or the market believe in robust growth rates writ large
“the ecommerce company gained fauxmentum by raising artificially high amounts of venture capital and spent lavishly on customer acquisition despite long payback periods and questionable LTV”

We live in heady times. Startup companies continue to grow at unprecedented rates, raise enormous amounts of venture capital and achieve valuations that imply that they will continue to grow rapidly for the foreseeable future.

We can see in the market the telltale signs of a rapidly expanding market: wage inflation, high staff turn-over, rapidly increasing rents with scarcity of space and booming real estate market with prices and rents for homes unaffordable for many. I don’t meet many rational investors (VCs or LPs) who believe this will last but of course nobody knows whether we have 6 weeks, 6 months or 2 years.

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Products I Love to Use

Posted on Jun 28, 2015 | 0 comments

Every year around the holidays journalists and bloggers around the world publish “top ten” lists or “annual buyer’s guides” or similar. And every year I think about doing the same. But it’s the holidays and I usually can’t be bothered. Plus, after reading everybody else’s list it feels pedestrian to publish mine.

So I thought now would be a sensible time – with six months on either side of the holidays. I’m not trying to say my picks are great and other products aren’t and I’ll certainly forget some. But this is just a reflection midway in June 2015 of the some of the products I love, enjoy or use frequently, and am not an investor in.

1. Twitter – Say what you want about Twitter “losing its way,” “not engaging new users well enough,” “not targeting ads well enough.” Twitter is the most fundamentally profound application I have used over the past decade. I love it. I will continue to love it. I sure hope nobody buys it. As an individual I’m just fine with its level of innovation. World leaders use it to break news. Comedians use it to hone their art.

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