VC as a second career (vs a first)

It’s not easy but there a number of ways to get into the venture capital business. Some grow up in it, paying their dues in an almost apprenticeship model then over the years they take on more and more responsibility at the firm as their experience grows. 

Some are were experienced entrepreneurs or operators and then make the switch to venture capital.

Some start their own firms – while others join established firms.

There isn’t any right or wrong way to do it. The data proves that there isn’t much correlation in whether you need or don’t need startup experience prior to make the investment.  

I was talking to an experienced successful venture capitalist the other day. He suggested the best VCs are doing this as a second career vs a first career.

The theory goes like this: if you have had a successful (VC or operational) career (competitive, smart & lucky) you can have the confidence to be a good VC. You are willing to make risky, bold investments and not ride on momentum deals and the like. You are willing to have an investment blow up in your face. 

If you are a VC early in your career and haven’t had past success, then you run the risk of making “safe investments” (protect the downside, consider exits early and often and try to putting your own career in front of the firm’s objectives).

The problem with the “safe strategy” is that it doesn’t work for early stage VC. Early stage venture requires substantial risk because there will be quite a number of losses in the portfolio and so the winners need to be outsized. The other problem with safe is that these things are rarely safe anyway. 

I see this syndrome of “career fist, company second” in big companies as well. It rarely happens in a startup because everyone is fighting for their lives together. But in big companies, protecting ones turf becomes cancer. Anytime someone puts their own interest in front of the company interest problems arise.

Coming back to the VC. I believe the best venture firms have the culture to allow failed investments where they support the founders but also the investor that led the investment as well. 

The first investment I led at Spark was quite lucky/fortuntae. We invested in ThePlatform in 2005. Six months later, Comcast bought the company and we made 3x our capital. The second investment I made turned out to be a failed investment but I learned a lot of lessons and our partnership supported me through the whole thing. 

Thats the key. Your company needs to support each other so that the individuals interest doesn’t come in front of the interest of the company. If you can make that part of the culture and the people you hire, then you’ve done good work. 

Wellness starts with better information

Last week I had some tests done on my foot. An x-ray and some other stuff.

I have a small thing my primary doctor wanted me to check out with a specialist.

So on Friday I went to see a specialist at MGH. He did some more tests.

Each time I met with someone, I gave them my name and I filled out a form. At this point, I’ve filled out at least 6 forms with 99% of the same information. 

And yesterday, the specialist called me to give me the results of Fridays test. But he got my voicemail so he left me a message saying “I have your results and I want to discuss. Call me back when you have a chance. Not urgent but just want to explain a few things.”

Ok, now this doctor is a highly educated and a very nice person but obviously this voicemail isn’t terribly helpful. “Not urgent” tells me I’m fine but c’mon – can’t you just explain it?

Alright, I’ll bite, so I call him back. I get his assistant so I tell her what happened. She asks me for my name and address and phone number and I need to confirm the date of my last appointment. After I clear security, she puts me on hold and comes back on and tells me the doctor is busy with another patient and will call me back. 

My schedule today is completely hosed so I can’t imagine a time when we are both going to be free. And tomorrow looks worse.

Now I come from a family of doctors. My brother is a physician and so are my parents. And Lauren used to be nurse (still has her license). And my sister in law is a doctor. I’m a big fan of people in healthcare. They are doing their best to take care of us even though their jobs are getting harder and harder. 

But this system of ours is nuts. 

Why can’t I just get an email from my doctor. Or why isnt there an online record with my results. Why do I have to keep giving them all my contact info every time I have an appoint. Why do they ask for my employer and title at the office? 

We can do better. Who’s in?

Mobile optimized sites

According to Google Analytics about 18% of the folks that visit my Tumblr at are using a mobile device (phone or tablet). Google Analytics only sees a small subset of the traffic because most people that check out this site follow me on Tumblr and view the content via the Dashboard.

Regardless, I’m guessing the ratio is about the same of mobile vs desktop traffic. 

Anyway, when you visit my Tumblr I display the full web site. It looks the same whether you are on an Android browser or iOS browser or Chrome on the desktop.

Tumblr gives the owner a choice to present a mobile optimized version as an alternative.

This morning I’m changing my settings to default to the mobile optimized view. My custom theme will be removed for mobile browsing but I think it will be much easier on the eyes.

You can still leave a comment on a post but scrolling to the bottom of the page and tapping “Standard view”.

Let me know if you like it better the old way or the new way.

Can the Bulldog Be Saved? –

via NYT:

The main problem with this breed is its basic, fundamental design,” said Nancy Laste, a veterinary cardiologist who helped care for Uga V and VI when she was an intern at the University of Georgia in the early ’90s. “It’s a defective and unworkable design.”

I’m so fascinated with English Bulldogs. That face and character is incredible. But health issues and risk seem awful. 

Is it possible to get a healthy bulldog? This article suggests its impossible. 

Can the Bulldog Be Saved? –

What are your favorite non-tech blogs?

I noticed that much of my daily reading is about technology and startups lately. I’m way off balance. 

So I’ve been reading books more at night before crashing. I just started Hunger Games (better late than never)

And I’m trying to find more non-tech blogs to follow.

I’ve been enjoying Jonathan Flemming’s photo blog. He’s an extraordinary photographer in SF. We haven’t met but I really like how he uses light and his eye. Super talented. 

I’m also finding great gems in Tumblr Spotlight especially in Design and Sustainability

What are your favorite non-tech blogs and how do you find them?