One of the things that makes companies work well is when members of the team rise to the occasion. It feels great when you can promote people internally.
We have a bit of a history here at Spark for doing just that. Alex joined us at the very beginning as a Principal and became General Partner with our second fund. Mo came to us as a Principal and then became a General Partner several years later as well.
We met Andrew Parker back in 2007 or so when he was working at Union Square Ventures. We had/have a number of co-investments together and enjoyed getting to know Andrew professionally and valued his perspective.
A few years later Andrew called and told us he was moving to Boston for personal reasons. It was easy to picture him on our team and we were delighted when he officially joined. He started as an Associate and quickly became a Principal
Over the past 3+ years Andrew has become an extremely valuable member of our team. He has led investments in a number of high growth startups like Kik, Upworthy & Quntopian in addition to a number of very promising seed investments like Timehop, Socratic, BloomNation and Panjo.
But his talents go beyond leading interesting investments on behalf of our firm.
Andrew is a tireless advocate for entrepreneurs everywhere — whether they are inside or outside our portfolio. And his team contributions at our firm range from high level strategy to details like hacking Google Hangout for our needs or fixing our video conferencing system in his spare time. He is always available to help in a moments notice.
I love this guy.
So today, I’m excited to share another internal promotion.
Andrew is now a General Partner at Spark Capital. I’m proud to call him my partner and look forward to working shoulder to shoulder with him for many years to come.
More than six years ago I joined Twitter as a user of the service.
I was immediately taken by it’s simplicity, power and how it connected us all. And it had this rare combination of being fun and important at the same time.
I was so taken with the product that I asked my friends for an introduction to the founders. The first Twitter cofounder I met was Biz. We hit it off and shortly after that I met Ev and Jack. Those founders just blew me away. Our firm led the second round and I served on their board for the next 3 years.
The founders are all still involved in Twitter in a variety of capacities. But they are also working on new things as well. Jack started Square. Ev started Medium.
And Biz started Jelly.
When Biz told me about Jelly I was inspired. The vision is powerful and important. The company & product is in so many ways a reflection of the values that Biz holds dear. I love that.
The team at Jelly is equally awesome. Ben is driving engineering along with Austin. And my friend Kevin leads the business side.
So today I’m delighted to announce that we led Jelly’s first round of capital and I’ve joined heir board of directors. Biz has the full write up about our investment along with an amazing group of individual investors — Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Al Gore, Reid Hoffman, Steven Johnson, Jason Goldman, Bono, Greg Yaintanes and Roya Mahboob.
I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with such a talented team again. And I can’t wait for you all to see what they are building
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.
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.