Anguilla, revisited

It’s impossible to get a feel for a place after just one visit.

And that was certainly true when it came to our experience with Anguilla. We made our first trip in 2016. It was a short visit and we were all much younger then. And we stayed in a big hotel and pretty much spent our days at the hotel pool and beach.

This time we rented a house for two weeks. It was away from the hotels. We rented a car and explored the island almost every day. Each beach and area of the island has something unique to offer. Each neighborhood has its own personality. A little bakery in an unlikely spot. Or a food truck with the best Johnny cakes imaginable. Or a set of swings that appeared out of nowhere. A favorite bbq place only open a few seemingly random days a week.

During our trip, we met a number of folks that return to Anguilla year after year, for decades. I totally get it.

(Cameras: Hasselblad 503cw, Contax T3 | Film: Kodak Portra 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400 | Lab: FW Photo Lab in Texas)

A new year

I am not one for making any new year resolutions but I am happy to be alive in 2022. Thankful for everyone in my family getting booster shots and that we were able to get some quality family time in for the holidays. We made a trip to Anguilla for our Christmas vacation. I’ll share some of those photos when I get them all back from my lab.

My work at Spark continues to transition and I find myself busy as ever — supporting existing portfolio companies but also meeting and connecting with new entrepreneurs committed to fighting climate change. I’ve made four angel investments so far in four different companies. All at the seed stage. Each one with a different mission but all aligned with the mission of saving our planet. It feels inspiring to meet with these founders.

I am very thankful to so many other investors that have also extended their time and energy helping me ramp up my network and understanding in this space. A very special shoutout to Jason Jacobs, Chris Sacca and Andrew Beebe.

I hope to write about these new investments in future blog posts. Stay tuned.

A return to St Barts

The last time we traveled to St Barts was in March 2020 — just before the severity of Covid-19 was fully understood by most Americans. As a family we made a return trip last month during our Thanksgiving holiday vacation. To be certain, Covid-19 and associated variants are still creating health risks but we are fully vaccinated (two of us have received our boosters). So we felt comfortable making the trip.

It was so nice to travel together as a family. I am appreciating these times with Lauren and the kids more than ever.

All photographs taken with a Hasselblad 503cw and Kodak Portra film.

Stepping back at Spark Capital

Seventeen years ago, my friend Santo told me he was going to start a new venture capital firm. It didn’t have a name just yet and he didn’t have a fund, but he had recruited Todd Dagres and Paul Conway and for some reason they asked me to join along.

My wife Lauren and I were living just outside of Boston with our two kids (with one more on the way!). I remember talking it over with her. At the time, We had moved back east after ten years in SF and I was missing the Bay Area. I had an offer from Apple that I was seriously contemplating. And, to be honest, I didn’t know if I would be a good investor or if I would even like the work. But, I loved the idea of helping start something from scratch with a group of friends and people I respected.

So in the fall of 2004, I said yes to Santo and Todd. A few weeks later we had our name and a few months after that our first fund. We were all working out of  a tiny space in Cambridge until we opened our office above a shoe store on Boston’s Newbury Street. And we have been there ever since (along with an expanded team with offices in NYC and SF).

We have done a lot together over these years. We raised six early stage funds and three growth funds and built a company that I adore. I cannot adequately describe the gratitude I feel towards the Spark team and entrepreneurs. Many have become dear friends. This nearly two-decade long journey has truly been something else.

But, it’s with a heavy heart that I say the one constant in life is change. Our current set of funds will be my last as a general partner at Spark. I will continue to be an active board member at several of our portfolio companies and a member of the Spark team.  But I’m stepping back nonetheless and will transition from being a Spark General Partner to a Spark Limited Partner in our future funds.

I’ve been thinking about what’s next. While I don’t have a fully baked set of plans, I do a few things on the list. Lauren and I are going to focus our philanthropy on economic inequality and education. I recently joined the Board of Trustees at Boston College (my alma mater). And I have been increasing my involvement in our nations politics and will continue to help the DNC where I can on the National Finance Committee and leaning into the DSCC’s work for the mid terms.

It also turns out I do love the work of an investor, so I will continue to do just that. But in this next phase, I plan to invest alongside Lauren with our own money. Initially we will invest in seed and Series A rounds with a focus on supporting founders pursuing the challenge of climate change.

And most of all, I want to spend more time with my wife and our three wonderful kids.

This all feels truly so bittersweet. I’m so excited about the future of Spark. Our team has never been stronger and it’s so hard to step back especially now when the opportunity is bigger and more interesting than ever.

I’m not sure how to end this post, but I did save the most important part for last, which is thank you! Thank you Lauren for supporting and believing in me. Thank you to Santo, Todd and the entire Spark team for bringing me on this epic journey. Thank you to the founders who allowed me to be a small part of their own mission, and thank you to our LPs, many of which have been with us since day one.

Each of you changed my life for the better and I am forever grateful.

The “Texas Leica” (aka the Fuji GW690ii)

A few months ago, I picked up the the Fuji GW690ii, affectionally called the “Texas Leica” by many. The nickname suits it quite well. Similar to a Leica, it is an all mechanical (no batteries!) true rangefinder camera — but way bigger because this camera makes massive 6×9 medium format exposures. This is the largest size you can get before you enter the land of large format photography.

Despite it’s potentially off-putting size, the Texas Leica is a joy to shoot. The fixed mount lens is a 90mm f/3.5 (which is roughly about a 50mm f/2 in full format). The lens creates a unique look to my eyes and it’s liberating not having to deal with additional lens options. Another meaningful constraint is only 8 shots per roll of 120mm film. This constraint really slows you down and I can feel myself relax when I’m out making photographs with this camera. Operating the camera (loading film, adjusting shutter, aperture and focusing) is super simple and straightforward. The rangefinder patch itself isn’t nearly as bright as the Mamiya 7ii or a Leica M but it’s totally functional.

The most significant drawback for me is the camera doesn’t have bulb mode. So long exposures (>1 second) requires the photographer to set the camera to T mode. Then after your desired exposure time, you have to turn the shutter dial to stop the film exposure. It works but it’s super odd.

I am still getting a feel for this camera and honestly not sure if it will replace my beloved Mamiya 7ii. But for now, I am having a lot of fun with it.

(All images made with the Fuji Gw690ii and Kodak Portra 400 film)