Here’s a fundraising tip: “you’ll be sorry you missed this” has never once worked as a tactic to get me – or most LPs for that matter – interested in a fund. Neither has telling me, “if you miss this fund you’ll never be able to get into future funds.”
Such bluster usually earns one-way ticket to my “managers” folder, a place that is alphabetically and existentially distinct from my “interesting managers” folder. After all, if you throw around the bombast with me, it makes me wonder: how do you treat entrepreneurs? I’m your shareholder; they’re your customers.
By Beezer Clarkson, Chris Douvos
Two LPs, a GP and a managing director from Cambridge Associates walk into a bar. Sounds like the opening to a killer gag that would be appreciated by dozens.
But wait, it wasn’t a bar, it was a lowly conference room in New York City. And rather than being protagonists in a joke, these four cats – Andy Weissman from Union Square Ventures, Theresa Hajer from Cambridge Associates, Chris Douvos from VIA Funds and Beezer Clarkson from Sapphire Ventures – were co-hosting an afternoon roundtable discussion at last week’s VentureCrushNY (graciously hosted by Ed Zimmerman, Chair of Lowenstein Sandler’s Tech Group). Along with these four co-hosts were about 20 people, mostly GPs with a few brave entrepreneurs and fellow LPs mixed in. Our topic was “The Outlook for LPs in Venture Funds”.
I just got off an advisory board call on which we were talking about the squirrely markets and the challenges that start-ups will face in the coming months. While I’m guessing we’re unlikely to see another “Good Times R.I.P.” soon, startups are generally being asked to tighten their belts. Some clever cat suggested that it’s “Watney Time,” for start-ups, invoking Mark Watney, the botanist protagonist in The Martian. “You don’t know when the next shipment of food is coming.”
All of this austerity talk got me thinking about a blog post I wrote in late 2008. The 2650 days since I wrote the original post seem like an eternity — and comprise several generations of start-up founders — so I thought I’d repost as a reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same . . .
An old saying goes: “in Silicon Valley, you’re never on your way up or down, you’re always coming around . . . “
It’s a great phrase because it captures the energetic movement of people around this sunny and magical land. With enough success to give folks a sense of possibility — and just the right amount of failure to keep people moving — the dynamic system that is Silicon Valley nurtures a “pay it forward” culture that’s part long-standing way of life and part necessity. It’s a place where people are urged to count the number of additional years they wish to work and divide by four (the number of years in a typical vesting schedule) to determine their remaining “shots on goal.” And everyone seems to believe that favors today pay dividends tomorrow.
You know you’ve watched too much Pixar when your 10-year old can quote lines from Cars the way we all used to quote Caddyshack in college. (Don’t get me started: I once decided it would be cheaper to rent Pixar flicks a couple of times each rather than buy them; needless to say I’m on the wrong side of that bet.)
And like many parents, my favorite film of the bunch is The Incredibles (aside from Big Hero 6, which I love because Baymax the soft robot reminds me of the cool stuff that my friends at OtherLab are working on.)