Tag: spark capital

Oct 7 2015

The Long and Winding Road to Rock Band 4

It’s here. And you know you want it. You can buy just the Rock Band 4 software (if you have your old instruments) or, if you are like me and you’ve given your instruments away, you can buy a new full bundle of everything.

And, in case you missed it, Spark Capital joined us an investor last week with a few other long time friends in a $15 million round.

I originally invested in Harmonix as an angel investor in 1995. It’s rise was well chronicled in this awesome Inc. Magazine long form story titled Just PlayBasically, Harmonix tried to go out of business every year between 1995 and 2005 and just managed to fail at that, always coming up with a new revenue deal or a small amount of financing to stay alive before it became an overnight success in 2005 with the original launch of Guitar Hero.

MTV acquired the company in 2006 for $175m plus an earnout, which after a long “discussion” that ended in 2013, resulted in a total purchase price over $700m. MTV decided to get out of the video game business in 2010 and sold the company back to the founders (Alex and Eran) and a small investor group.

In 2013 Alex and Eran asked me to join their board. We arranged a financing that made sense for both parties so Foundry Group could invest. Harmonix is easily the most accomplished video game company in the world around music and rhythm games and with the eventual, and long awaited emergence of VR, I can think of no better company around our HCI theme to work with. Spark Capital, which was one of the original investors in Occulus, agrees, which makes me very happy.

Rock Band 4 is now out. In states like Colorado where a certain substance is now legal, I expect we’ll have a new marketing tie in. In the rest of the world, let me just suggest that having played the new game, you’ll want to get a copy and dust off your old equipment.

And get ready for some stuff that is just going to blow your mind – now and over the next 12 months – from my friends at Harmonix in Boston.

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Aug 1 2015

Weekend Podcast – Investors Are Human Too

On my run this morning (yay – I’m running again) I listened to a wonderful podcast between Jerry Colonna and Bijan Sabet called Investors are Human Too – with Bijan Sabet.

If you follow me, you know that I’m incredibly close friends with Jerry (he’s one of the people on this planet that I comfortably say that I love). I’m also a huge fan of his company Reboot.io. If you want a taste of what they do, listen to a bunch of the Reboot podcasts (I’ve listened to them all and the least interesting one is still excellent.)

I’m also a big fan of Bijan. We’ve had a number of great conversations over the years. While we haven’t sat on a board together, I have deep respect for how he functions as a VC – and as a human.

At Foundry Group, we’ve done a number of investments with Bijan’s firm Spark Capital, including AdMeld (sold – very successful investment), Trigget (sold, but not a successful investment), and most recently Sourcepoint. We’ve also got another one in the works together that should close by the end of August.

Unlike so many podcasts with VCs where you get lots of personal history followed by advice, prognostications, bloviating, and predications, this one was all about being human. Bijan and Jerry explored things in the context of the relationship between a founder and a VC. They covered things generally, had some great examples (including Jerry and Mainspring, which was a blast from the past for me), and then Bijan went deep on his own journey to figure this out over the past ten years.

My favorite line came near then end when Bijan talked about encountering VCs who hide behind the phrase “fiduciary responsibility” to justify their actions, when in fact they should just say:

“I have a fiduciary responsibility to treat you like shit.”

Even though I was huffing and puffing on my run, I laughed out loud.

If you are a podcast listener, spend 45 minutes of your life on this. It’s worth it. Bijan and Jerry – thanks for the conversation and for brightening up my run.

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