I got an email from Matt Blumberg this morning with the above image that said,
“We have been blogging for 19 years. I can remember sitting together above Super Liquor futzing with Typepad like it was yesterday.”
“Super Liquor” is Superior Liquor in Superior, Colorado, which was on the first floor of the building off of Hwy 36, which was my office at the time. There was also a pizza restaurant on the first floor.
I asked Matt if we started on the same day because I couldn’t remember. He said,
“Literally the same day. We sat at a desk right outside your office in Superior, pulled up our laptops, and taught ourselves Typepad together and created our templates. Fred had already been blogging for about 6 months, and we had dinner the night before (can’t remember where, think The Med) and decided we would give it a try. We couldn’t find other good examples of VC or CEO blogs. “
I went and looked at some of those first few posts. Matt’s was You’re Only a First Time CEO Once. Mine included To Blog or Not to Blog (which called out a handful of VC bloggers who started before me), Blog tools – Newsgator and Moveable Poster, TDC (Thinly Disguised Contempt), and my first book review: Free Prize Inside the Radioactive Boy Scout Rate Hikes.
My favorite of those was TDC (Thinly Disguised Contempt).
As was the tradition at the time when new bloggers appeared on the scene, Fred Wilson wrote nice posts linking to each of us. His welcome to Matt was Welcome to the Blog World Matt, and his welcome to me was This Is Going To Be Interesting.
This post wouldn’t be complete without my hat tip to Fred, who, in my view, is the OG VC blogger. His first post was creatively (well – not really) titled MY First Post.
19 years is a long time to do anything. It’s close to my board service record, which ironically was on Matt’s company Return Path with Fred. The ending of Fred’s first post resonates with me today as it did 19 years ago.
“I have no idea if i’ll write a lot in my blog or rarely. I hope its a lot, because i have a lot to say. But we’ll see about that.”
I just spent the last 30 minutes writing a blog post around a simple phrase that I like. I built out my thought process around it, used a handful of examples, and then filled in some additional ideas. I was proofreading it when I decided to go try to find the original source of the phrase.
The first page of Google’s results surprised me. There was nothing on the phrase I liked, but there was a wall of vitriol and controversy around a phrase that is close but had a few different words in it. When I read a few of the articles, I quickly was able to tie it back to something someone at Breitbart said. And then I vaguely remembered the controversy around the phrase.
I realized that it would be easy to misinterpret the phrase I liked as the phrase that had all the controversy around it. I said them both out loud and slowly a few times, and concluded that the post needed a lot more work if I were to publish it. Basically, if someone read what I wrote and thought about it, they’d likely separate what I was saying from the other quote that I found objectionable. Or, if they didn’t know about the other quote, they’d just be tracking what I said.
But, if they knew the other quote, the controversy, and they felt strongly one way or another about it, then what I wrote would likely be lost is the soup of the previous controversy.
Normally, when I write, I just hit publish after I’m done. I learn a lot from writing and it helps me work out my thoughts and ideas, which is the main reason I do it. I don’t try to get everything right the first time through (if you are a long-time reader of this blog, you’ll notice the iteration of lots of stuff as I refine it with different examples, evolve my thinking, or respond to other challenges and stimulus.)
In this case, I was worried that my thoughts would be judged because of the linkage to the controversy around this other phrase. Given the two phrases, this is deliciously ironic (kind of like capers, which I despise.) So, I hit save draft instead of publishing the post, wrote this post instead, and am now heading out for a run to contemplate what just happened, since I think this may be the first time in about 5,000 posts that I experienced this hesitation to just publish something I wrote.
My partners Chris Moody, Seth Levine, and Lindel Eakman are all blogging right now. My other two partners, Ryan McIntyre and Jason Mendelson have blogged in the past, ut took a break in 2017. Also, the Foundry Group blog is always active, with occasional thought pieces but mostly updates on initial financings both for companies and other funds that we invest in.
So, I thought I’d point you at Moody, Seth, and Lindel’s blogs (and some posts) in case you are interested in following more of what we are doing at Foundry Group.
Seth has started a Friday series named Friday Fun because the world needs more fun. His longer thought pieces like The Feature -> Product -> Company Continuum, How to value your SaaS company, and Reading Your VC Pitch Meeting are must-read posts for me – and for every founder and company executive. Also, Seth’s not afraid to be very personal and open, as he shows in his post Drowning.
Lindel is getting into a grove with posts like Saying “No” too often is part of being a good investor, Mi Casa Es Su Casa – How we seek to interact with our family of GPs, and Venture Risk and Return circa 2017. Very few LPs blog, so it’s neat to add Lindel’s perspective as a fund investor into the mix.
If you are following and reading me, I encourage you to follow and read my partners to get the full view of how we think about things at Foundry Group.
I took the last two weeks off from blogging. It was a nice vacation.
While I try to blog every day, I don’t have a daily ritual like Fred Wilson does. Fred and I have talked about this a few times – for him, it is meditation, discipline, and ritual. I’ll let him say it in his own words.
“But I’ve come to realize that the daily post, and its quality or lack thereof, is not really the thing. It is the ritual, the practice, the frequency, the habit, and the discipline that matters most to me.”
In the past four years, I’ve tried to move away from time-based disciplines. I realized that my obsession with time and schedule, such as waking up every morning at 5 am no matter what time zone I was in, was one of the inputs into my depressive cycles. My weekly “wall of blue” (what I refer to my calendar – and what it looks like – basically fully committed between 9 and 5 from Monday to Friday) was another.
About four years ago I started removing time-based disciplines from my life. I still have many time-based rhythms – often imposed by others – that I adhere to. Most of the business world runs on a time-based rhythm (hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually) so that’s a background that I have to operate within. However, I’ve systematically tried to eliminate as many of these self-imposed rhythms as I can.
I wake up whenever I feel like it. I try to schedule less, not more, phone calls. I try to leave an increasing amount of time unscheduled. There are long stretches of time where this is difficult, and the wall of blue takes over.
As I rolled into August, I knew I was facing an intense two weeks. I foreshadowed that in my post Total Failure at Summer Maker Mode. After writing one more post on July 31st, I gave myself permission to take a two-week vacation from blogging.
Regularly readers notice when I go off the grid for a vacation, which varies in length from a week to a month. This wasn’t a work vacation, but it was a blogging vacation. It felt good not to think about writing for two weeks as I just focused on work, running, resting, and being with Amy.
While my schedule is still pretty full, it’s not as full, and as I look forward the wall of blue has some space in it. Between that, and a nice two-week break, writing once again appeals to me.
We have some entertaining news to share with you today. We have recently registered with the SEC and are now considered Registered Investment Advisors. Did we do this so that we can have cooler business cards? No. Did we do this because our back office was lacking in purpose? Heck no.
We had to, per the SEC rules. And the reason you ask? Well, we can’t tell you that or we could possibly break some other SEC rules. So for now, just accept that your friendly neighborhood venture capital firm is now subject to a lot of new and stimulating paperwork.
Why are we even bothering telling you this? Because it will affect what we can say on the Foundry Group blog and personal blogs that we write. We’ll have to be careful with statements that we make about companies we invest in. We’ll also be cautious in what we write about our funds or the industry in general. According to the SEC rules, we can no longer write anything that “promotes” our funds. While we’d argue that we never try to promote our firm, but just write anything that comes to mind and try to have fun doing it, with our new registration status comes new responsibilities.
This will be a learning process for us and our goal is to bring you content that is still 100% transparent. Please be patient with us if there are hiccups along the way, or perhaps even questions that we can’t legally answer in the comment sections anymore.
And as always – thank you all for the support. We love what we do and the community, and our interaction with you through our blogs, is a big reason why. And, don’t worry, there will be a third VC video from us – someday.
Two words: Mattermark Daily
When I started blogging in 2004 I think I was the third VC blogger after David Hornik* and Fred Wilson (if you were, or know, of another pre-2004 VC blogger, please tell me so I can update my historical recollection.)
I remember lots of people asking me why I was doing it. I heard plenty of trash talk from other VCs, especially second hand, such as “He doesn’t have enough to do”, “He’s not spending his time doing his job”, or “What a waste of time.” I didn’t care, as I was doing it – like Fred often said – to help me think out loud in public, learn about different things, and get a conversation going around topics I was interested in. In retrospect, it was also helping me “practice writing” and without all the practice, it’s unlikely I would have ever gotten in the rhythm of writing a book a year.
Today, hundreds of VCs blog. Some are focused on using content marketing strategies to build their brand and reach. Some seem to have a full time person on the team generating content for them. Some do it under their name; other’s do it on their firm’s web site. Even more have tried and never got past a dozen posts.
Regardless of one’s success, it’s become extremely hard to track all the new content coming out and sort the good from the bad. My somewhat up-to-date VC People Feedly collection has 139 feeds in it. But I stopped being rigorous about adding new people about a year ago and rarely added feeds that were directly on firm websites, so I expect there are probably closer to 500 active VC bloggers now. And, this doesn’t include the guest articles that regularly show up on various sites like TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and Business Insider.
Rather than struggle to keep up, I’m just defaulted to relying on Mattermark Daily to tell me what to read each day. And, I always remember what I tell entrepreneurs: “It’s just data – and it’s often wrong.” Read a lot, but always apply your own critical thinking.
*Update: Naval Ravikant told me that he, Kevin Laws, and Andrew Anker were also part of VentureBlog (dating back to 3/2003). It now appears to be Hornik’s blog.
I’ve decided to try something new on this blog. Rather than using up full posts for short announcements, I’ve added a new block for announcements at the top of the home page. It’s in orange, will generally be only a few lines, and include a link.
Since these are just blog posts being formatted differently, they will show up in the RSS feed and the daily email. In addition, there is a page in the Archives for the announcements.
If you have any feedback on this (good or bad), I’d love to hear it.
As my newest book, Startup Opportunities: Know When To Quit Your Day Job, has begun shipping on Kindle (order now and give me feedback, leave a review) I’ve been thinking a lot about writing lately. Startup Opportunities took 18 months to write and most of the slowness was me, not my co-author Sean Wise. It was an interesting struggle to get done which I’ll write about at another time.
I love to write. It’s the way I put my thoughts together. I’ve never really understood the phrase “I’m thinking about it” – I never consciously sit and think, but when I’m writing my brain is often doing the job of thinking.
I also love to read. It’s the way I put my thoughts together and learn new things. I’ve never been an auditory learner. I remember sitting in classes at MIT, listening to the professor lecture, and understanding almost nothing. But then, when I sat down and read the course notes, or whatever reading material was assigned, it all became clear. I’m sure the verbal stuff entered my brain somehow, but it didn’t really turn into something I understood completely until I was able to sit and read.
Fortunately, I’m a fast reader. And after writing millions of words, I’ve become a fast writer. When I’m asked how I read or write so fast, I have a simple answer – practice.
I continuously read essays that talk about the end of books. The end of the publishing industry. How humans are reading less. Crap like that. While it makes for nice self-referential essays in magazines like The Atlantic, or books by authors about how Google is making us stupid, I think it’s all wrong.
I think the fundamental thing that is changing is the distribution of written information. This is nothing new – it’s been going on since the Egyptians created the writing systems 4,500 years ago. And, it is going to get really interesting in the next twenty years as humans become much more integrated with machines, as I’m completely ready to jack in to the Internet full-time.
When I think of the different forms I read and write, it ranges from what I call “the long form” (books) to “the nano-form” (tweets). On a daily basis, I consume books, essays (posts on Medium, magazine articles), blogs, emails, Facebook posts, Tweetstorms, and Tweets. While I don’t use Yo anymore, you can bring it all the way down to the human-nano level.
When I look at the activity in my Goodreads feed, it’s clear to me that the book is not dead. Many of the people I respect, follow, and have relationships with are deep thinkers and love to read – both for learning and recreation. Sure, the book is competing with a lot of other media types, but reading (and writing) seems to persist quite successfully.
Is the book really dead? In 20 years, will we still be calling them books, or will they be something else, in the same way that no one under the age of 10 knows what a record is.
Every few years I update the look and feel of my blog. This year is a significant upgrade, both on look and feel as well as the entire back end infrastructure.
In the past six months, I’ve started to notice complexity creep into everything in our world. While design is still front and center for many developers and entrepreneurs, I’ve gotten tired of the overwhelming UIs, confusing UXs, and immense complexity under the hood. It’s kind of like a calendar that just keeps getting stuff added to it – all of a sudden you are busy for all of your waking hours with meetings, and have no time to really get any work done.
We took a completely bottoms up approach this time and started from scratch. We tossed everything out and rebuilt everything – the infrastructure, the blog, and the design – from the ground up.
A thing you probably won’t notice, but is the starting point, is that we’ve moved feld.com to Pantheon. We are investors and love the company. The only thing you should notice is lightning fast response all the time, regardless of traffic load. If you ever notice anything different, please tell me.
Next, we approached the design from a minimalist perspective, which is coming back into vogue in a lot of places. My blog was starting to feel like a Geocities site to me, with all kinds of additional crap on it beyond my writing, and I decided I just wanted it to focus on my writing and my community in the comments. I copied Fred Wilson in this regard as he made this shift a while ago. After looking at many popular blogs, I kept coming back to his approach.
We’ve tried to do this in a way that keeps the writing front and center but still has easy access to other things on feld.com. On the left is site specific stuff, such as additional feld.com content (About, Investments, and Marathons), clear discovery (Search, Categories, and Tags). On the right is post specific actions (Comments, Category for the Post, Tags for the Post, and Sharing options.)
If you want to subscribe to anything or follow me anywhere, that’s on the top right.
We’ve also rebuilt the data underlying things from scratch. We’ve gotten rid of a ton of plug-ins that either weren’t being used or didn’t add anything (other than slowing the site down). We worked hard on a site that could be viewed on any platform, regardless of browser or mobile device. And we’ve tried to keep the principle of clean, minimal, and readable – with the focus on the content – throughout.
I’m sure there are many, many things we could improve. As I roll into 2015, we are going to finalize this theme with your feedback, and then apply it to all the other active sites in our universe, especially StartupRev.com which desperately needs an overhaul.
So – comment with any feedback you have – good, bad, and other. Constructive or flamey. In the comments, or via email to me. And, if we blew it, we’ll keep iterating.