A few weeks ago I noticed my post How Can This Be A Billion Dollar Company? getting a surprising number of new Twitter shares. Since I wrote it in the summer of 2014, it must have been picked up somewhere and hit a new chord. I wish I had titled it what was in my mind when I wrote it, which was “How Can This Be A Billion Dollar Company and other bullshit VCs ask early stage companies” – that would have been more fun to see in my Twitter feed.
I took the weekend off, spent time with friends, had an awesome Valentine’s dinner with Amy, and read Barry Eisler’s newest book The God’s Eye View (excellent – five stars – I love everything Barry Eisler.)
While going through my daily reading this morning, I came across a bunch of posts talking about how the sky was falling, Silicon Valley was in turmoil, financing was drying up everywhere, and all the unicorns were doomed.
In the midst of all the very predictable noise, much of it not really saying anything particularly insightful, were three posts by friends that I thought were extremely useful and very relevant. I encourage you to read each of them slowly and think about both what the writer is saying and what it means for you and your company.
Let’s start with Mark Solon’s Some Gray Haired Insights For New Investors. Buried deep within in a nice reminder of one of my fundamental beliefs.
“I remember a series of conversations I had with Brad Feld in 2008 about his perspective on investing through various parts of economic cycles. Brad was (and is) resolute in his belief that creating outsized returns in the venture industry demands ignoring the macro environment as it relates to investment pace.”
Mark says plenty of other things, along with walking us through some dynamics in 2008 around the macro, startups, and the global thermonuclear financial freakout that was occurring.
Ok – let’s move on to Mark Suster’s What Most People Don’t Understand About How Startup Companies are Valued. Mark also has a nice call out to me that helps explain why he writes posts list this one.
“When I started blogging it was because I was inspired by Brad Feld. When I was an entrepreneur there was no public information about how term sheets worked or how investors thought. Brad was openly writing about this and it felt like he was giving the VC playbook away for free! I always wanted to work with Brad for this reason so I started blogging because I figured if transparency worked for Brad I would try the same approach. Nearly EVERY smart VC I know has been talking privately for the past two years about how ridiculous valuations in private markets have gotten and how a reckoning was coming. Most prefer not to say this publicly for two reasons: 1) they have an entire portfolio of startups, many of whom are raising capital and 2) they prefer not to be attacked publicly or seem “anti entrepreneur.” But I promise you they’ve been saying it privately. So my talking up over the years is more trying to shine transparency on what we’re already saying in private rooms.”
Mark is on a monstrously awesome blogging roll right now. This post, along with the last N that he has written, have been outstanding. While I don’t agree with everything Mark says, it’s super important context for what is going on.
And then Alex Iskold, who runs Techstars New York, reminds us why this is a particularly good time to create a startup.
When you are done reading those three posts (and – if you haven’t – go read them – seriously – it’s worth the time) you should sit quietly for five minutes. Take a very deep breath. Figure out what you can actually impact today, and then go do it. And shut out all the rest of the noise.
I love America.
I ran the Zeitgeist half marathon yesterday in Boise, Idaho with my friends Pam Solon and Mark Solon (Pam kicked our asses). It was a cold and icy morning with a beautiful blue sky. The course is hilly – a long two mile hile at mile 2 and then a one mile hile at mile 8. But following each hill was a corresponding downhill so that evened things out.
The most awesome thing about a half marathon is at 13 miles you only have 0.1 mile left, not 13.2 miles. While I knew this, I didn’t really appreciate it until I hit the 13 mile marker and could see the finish line. Even though I finished in 2:21:03, I did the last three miles all sub 9:00 (8:44, 8:38, 8:56).
Boise was a blast. I’ve been here once before and stayed with the Solon’s that time as well. They’ve become great friends – I’ve done a few investments with Mark, but I just love hanging out with them. Their kids are turning into interesting little people, they are awesome hosts, and they are great people.
On Friday night I did a Beers with Brad event at The Watercooler. About 75 local entrepreneurs showed up and we spent two hours talking about entrepreneurship, Boise, and how to create long term, sustainable entrepreneurial communities. We also had pizza and beer, which was a good warmup for a great pre-run Italian meal at Asiago’s.
A good night sleep, followed by coffee, a quart of Mark’s amazing blueberry peanut butter smoothie, followed by a dump, or two, and then a half marathon. Note to self, don’t drink a quart of smoothie before a race unless you want to have to stop twice on the course to pee.
The race was beautiful. A half marathon is a long training run for me at this point, but there’s always a notch of additional energy around a race. I ran naked (no music) – just enjoyed Boise, the scenery, the people, and the funny conversions I heard at the back of the pack (e.g. “don’t tell Jim and Scott I’m also sleeping with Mike – he’s really good in bed, but I don’t want them to know.”)
We did the normal post race “eat a bunch of food” thing at Smokey Mountain Pizza. We eschewed naps and watched a Will Ferrell movie instead. Our goal was hilarity – we had a total fail as Mark picked Everything Must Go. Not bad, not good, but not funny.
A quick hangout followed at friends house and then dinner at Highlands Hollow Brewhouse. Yes – the fries were awesome and they even had a bunch of veggie things.
The line of the weekend was when Pam, who has just started using Twitter and Facebook again after a hiatus, said “I need more friends.” Feel free to help her out.
The only thing missing was Amy.