Late in 2004, Todd, Santo and Paul had this idea of starting a new venture capital firm. They wanted to do something entrepreneurial and build something from scratch. They asked me to join and we ended up calling the firm Spark Capital.
The premise of this new firm was to begin from a consumer perspective and invest in early stage opportunities in media, technology and entertainment.
Over the last almost eight years, our team has expanded to include some exceptional people that are not just my colleagues but my friends.
The truly best part is we are lucky to have the opportunity to work with extraordinary entrepreneurs who are building the things that they want to see in the world. And we want to do everything we can do to help them reach that goal because we want to see these things in the world too.
Today, I’m delighted to announce that we have raised our fourth fund — Spark IV. Spark IV is a $450MM venture capital fund. We will remain a principally early stage firm but also have the ability to invest in category leaders as well. My partner Todd wrote down some of his observations about our new fund here and Sarah Lacy wrote about our new fund here.
We’re excited about what is happening in technology today. More people are connected than ever. Software continues to disrupt massive industries through decreased costs, more transparency and network effects.
We’ll continue to look for these opportunities, always starting with a consumer perspective and in search of common threads across categories including media, finance, education, healthcare, enterprise software and infrastructure.
I am as excited about our purpose today as I was eight years ago when our earliest limited partners took a chance on us. I’m extremely grateful for our investors who believed in us as a startup and for their continued support in our newest fund.
I heard that line in a conversation yesterday. It was probably the 400th time I’ve heard that line since I started using the product
The statement usually is followed by a few other lines like
-you can’t have a conversation in 140 characters
-there is too much noise
-there should be comments for each tweet ( a la Facebook or Instagram )
-it needs to be better structured
-others can’t see all of the @mention unless you follow all parties
-it’s too messy
I have a different view.
I like the mess.
Actually I don’t think it’s a mess at all.
If you think about it, twitter is actually extremely civil and the community is for the most part extremely positive.
Compare @mentions on any given tweet to the cesspool which lives inside YouTube comments. I have no idea what happened at YouTube but their comments are nuts.
People may disagree with my tweets and people often do but it hardly if ever gets nasty.
And I follow the various discussions on twitter routinely. It works. Elegantly and quickly.
Further twitter isn’t a merely a news or broadcast medium. It’s something completely different. Importantly, there is a back channel. It’s alive and well. And we all have a voice. We can tweet back. We can @reply. We can use hashtags. Our voice and our 140 characters belong to us. And we can use it to shout, sing, laugh, cry, celebrate, mourn and yes, we can even argue.
I once saw a video of Clay Shirky giving a talk about open source software. He tells the story about a big former client of his who couldn’t understand how or why members of the open source community would help each other out — for free.
If I recall correctly, the line he used in the talk was “the client couldn’t understand it [open source] could work in reality because they couldn’t possibly imagine it working in theory”.
I feel the same way when people say that twitter won’t work for conversations. Public conversation at such scale isn’t supposed to work in theory. But it does work in reality.
(Please excuse any typos and lack of links. Wrote this post on my iPhone in a bumpy cab)
I’ve got a soft spot for the lead singer of My Morning Jacket. Seeing him play out live is such a treat. Probably my favorite show was during the Monster Of Folk tour. Here’s a new single, live from the Fallon show)
I’ve read several posts over the years from VCs discussing whether stealth mode as a startup is a good thing or a bad thing. Those that oppose stealth mode say you are only hurting yourself by not coming out early (feedback, mentorship, recruiting, investor interest, etc etc).
Just look at YC and TechStars startups as good examples. Or Kickstarter projects. They are amazingly open at a very early age. There are clear benefits.
But there are some founders that know exactly what they want to build but because of the complexities involved it could take 9-12 months to launch. And some of those founders choose to remain in stealth mode until they take the covers off.
There are plenty examples of companies that start in stealth mode, recent example include Nest Labs and Aero operated as Bamboom Labs before launching.
Back in the day (late 90’s) stealth mode was more popular or at least that is my perspective. Before publicly launching as WebTV Networks, the founders hid behind the name Artemis Research for about a year. I love that the site is till up and running.
Before co-founding Android, Andy Rubin, Joe Britt and Matt Hershenson created Danger Research. I can’t find the original website but it was amazingly creative. It had these little videos of a gorilla and a girl skipping with dynamite. And a countdown until launch (hopefully someone can find a link).
And then there was other successes like Optigrab and not so successful but well hyped Ginger.
Anyway, this post isn’t meant to suggest that stealth mode is a good thing or a bad thing per se.
But I do appreciate what stealth mode represents to me — namely an idea that takes a long time to build with founders that are wonderfully proud, crazy ambitious with a healthy dose of paranoia.
Lauren and I got married 18years ago today. I fell for that girl hard when I met her. We are both a bit older than those salad days but with each year we grow closer and continue to build our lives together.
One of my favorite mobile apps is Timehop. It connects to many popular services (twitter, facebook, instagram, flickr, foursquare) and each day it surfaces what you shared exactly 1 year ago that day. I open the app every single morning and just smile (or cry)
Twitter recently released an update to their search and now old tweets show up in the results. This morning I started playing with it and found some fun stuff. I thought I’d share a few.
My first tweet. April 7, 2007.
I ended up supporting Obama then (and now) and happy about that. Hopefully we will also see Hilary Clinton run. She would get my vote.
That day when @fredwilson invented #coverfriday on Tumblr
Life before the iPhone.
That day when location + mobile + photos hit me right between the eyes.
I feel young and old at the same time. My mind & heart feels young but my knees after a run reminds me that I’m not a kid anymore.
We had some friends over last night that I’ve known for 25 years. Lauren made a delicious dinner and we just laughed and laughed — at some new and plenty of old stories.
The sun is out and my plan for today: go for a run, play in the snow with the kids, take some photographs and eat a slice of cake I’ve spotted in the fridge. A simple day and one that I’m looking forward to.
I’m also trying to raise money for Charity Water for my birthday. My goal is to raise $440. All proceed go directly to providing water to those that need it. I’ve kicked things off with the first donation. I hope you can join me and even give $5. That would be awesome.
Almost every day some one asks me if I’ve seen anything interesting lately.
To which I will sometimes cite some of our recent announced investments and why we got excited about it.
If the product exists in the world and the other person I’m talking to has tried it, we have tend to have an engaged chat about that and the person agrees or disagrees with my enthusiasm.
If the product doesn’t yet exist, the response is typically “oh, that’s cool” - which likely tends to be a polite version of “what so cool about that”.
Here’s the thing. No one ever tells the story about why something is compelling (for an early stage product or idea) like the founder. A venture capitalists, no matter how articulate or passionate, simply can’t do it justice.
Imagine if you had never seen Twitter and someone tried to describe the earliest product.
Now compare that with @jack or @ev or @biz describing it. Imagine one of those guys then showing it to you. Then imagine trying it. Embracing it. Feeling it.
Same is true for everyone else we back. Sometimes we get it right and many times we get it wrong. But when we feel it we get possessed.
That’s why a pitch deck over email doesn’t work. I can’t touch it. I can’t feel the founder’s vision.
“We have always loved one another. We’re human. It’s something we’re good at. But up until recently, the radius and half-life of that affection has been quite limited. With love alone, you can get a birthday party together. Add coordinating tools, and you can write an operating system … In the past, we could do little things for love, but big things, big things required money. Now, we can do big things for love.”—Clay Shirky