A review of some gear I picked up recently

It’s been awhile since I wrote up some stuff on gear. This year I’ve picked up a few things so I thought I would share. 

1. Filson Small Field Bag. I love this bag. I got the tan one with brown leather trim/straps. It fits my Leica M9, a couple Field Notes pads, and a Mophie Juice sled. It also fits a modified gorilla pod which I often bring along

2. V-Moda Crossfade m80 headphones. I’ve gone through more headphones that I care to admidt. I tried getting into the Bose noise cancelling headphones for long airplane rides but the idea of charging yet another thing in my life wasn’t a good fit for me. The m80s work and sound great. The build quality is excellent and they don’t require batteries.

3. iPad, back to the big version. I was in the Apple Store the other day. The camera on my iphone was messed up and I was waiting for my appointment at the genius bar (apple replaced my iphone on the spot. amazing). While I was waiting I started playing around with the latest iPad Retina/4g model. It was the first time I used the “big boy” iPad since picking up my iPad mini. The screen was stunning and everything felt so much faster than the mini. I bought one at the store and I’m loving it. The Mini will likely end up as a Sonos remote in the house and a game machine for the kiddies. 

4. Fuji x100s. Before my Leica, I was shooting with the original Fuji x100. That camera was quirky but a delight. I ended up selling the x100 when this Leica came into my life. Recently, Fuji updated the model to the x100s and promised to fix several quirks along with a number of improvements, notably autofocus speed. I picked it up as a way complement my rangefinder system which is all manual. 

After using this system, I came away a big fan of the Fuji. It’s small, quiet.The built in 35mm glass is lovely and the controls are wonderful. The EVF and OVF combo is killer. The images are gorgeous, especially in low light. Sony and Olympus can learn a lot from Fuji.

However, I ultimately returned the x100s. I just didn’t find I was using it and that felt wasteful. But if my Leica was ever stolen or busted beyond repair, I would get the x100s in a second. 

Picking up our own tab

In the earliest days of a company the most critical things are team & product development. Founders energy needs to be primarily focused on those two things. Everything else is often a distraction.

Raising capital for startup companies also requires a big effort. Choosing the right investors that respect/support your vision, that you can imagine working with and can help isn’t an easy task even in the best of times.

And once you make this decision, the company hires lawyers and the investor hires lawyers, documents get drawn up and legal fees start building.

We would rather these startups spend less time and money in the documents and contracts and more time focused on building their business.

And we want our own actions to be consistent with this objective.

In recent years our firm and several others have taken efforts to simplify our seed and Series A legal documents. It has been a good thing and improved efficiency.

But we would like to do more to align our interests with founders.

For as long as I can recall, both as an entrepreneur and a vc, startups have been asked to pay their investors legal expenses related to their investment. Whether the company raises $500k or $5MM it has become “standard” that the company foots the investors legal bill.

I didn’t understand it then and I still don’t get it now.

Starting today we would like to change that.

My partners and I at Spark Capitalare going to pay our own legal fees at the earliest days of the company up to a cap of $25k going forward. If this cap lasts a few rounds even better. The only fine print we can think of is if there are multiple co investors we would ask them to pay their own way as well. If not than we wil just pay our pro rata.

We would rather see this money go towards better uses and continue our efforts to align ourselves with the founders that risk it all every single day.