Risk and Race: A Modest Proposal To Encourage Investing In Minority Entrepreneurs

Fast Company put out a fantastic package of stories covering the role of race in Silicon Valley.  The centerpiece is a deservedly glowing profile of Tristan Walker, but my favorite was an interview with a group of African American startup folks titled “An Honest Discussion of Race in Silicon Valley.” One thing that I failed … Continue reading Risk and Race: A Modest Proposal To Encourage Investing In Minority Entrepreneurs

The Value of Investors: Why I Focus On Helping Entrepreneurs

From Peter Thiel’s recent Reddit AMA: “As an investor, I think one must always maintain a certain amount of humility. There is only so much we can do to help the companies in which we invest. And because of this, the act of making the investment (rather than the ability to fix things later) remains … Continue reading The Value of Investors: Why I Focus On Helping Entrepreneurs

Life as a Startup Barber

One of the popular expressions used by investors is “How much hair is on the deal?” A hairy deal includes messy complications, like a product that hasn’t yet found a market, or inexperienced founders. Some investors shy away from hairy deals. I, on the other hand, have decided to ply my trade as a startup … Continue reading Life as a Startup Barber

The Future of Venture Capital…is Venture Capital

Today, I saw a post on the future of venture capital–a very popular parlor game in the Valley–which focused on how the rapidly declining cost of starting a company had rendered the traditional VC model invalid: http://bit.ly/18lSFMa “The dramatic drop in the cost of creating a company over the last decade ($2 million in the … Continue reading The Future of Venture Capital…is Venture Capital

Valuation is the universal lever for mitigating startup investment risk

I am a well-known valuation hawk.  That is, I have often gone on the record as saying that investors should care about the valuation they pay when they invest in startups, and that valuations are too high. This doesn’t make me popular in many circles, but I care more about speaking what I think is … Continue reading Valuation is the universal lever for mitigating startup investment risk

Don’t “manage earnings.” Instead, “build value.”

I continue to get great insights out of the life of Warren Buffett. One of Buffett’s famous principles is the story of Mr. Market.  Here’s an excerpt from his 1987 Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letter: http://bit.ly/11jHDaG “Without fail, Mr. Market appears daily and names a price at which he will either buy your interest or sell … Continue reading Don’t “manage earnings.” Instead, “build value.”

Facebook, Part Deux

Nearly two years ago, I asked the question, “Did Peter Thiel Make The Single Best Investment In History?“ Today, now that Thiel has sold most of his remaining stake in Facebook, it’s a good time to re-examine the math surrounding his investment. Two years ago, I wrote: In 2005, Peter Thiel paid $500,000 for a … Continue reading Facebook, Part Deux

How Do You Know A VC Is Interested?

“He told us he was going to fund us,” shouts the happy entrepreneur into my ear. I’m sure he dialed me as soon as he got into the car. “He’s not going to fund you,” I say calmly, “The VCs always say that. It doesn’t mean anything.” A lot of entrepreneurs have a hard time … Continue reading How Do You Know A VC Is Interested?

Don’t Confuse Signifiers and Substance

When it comes to startups, its easy to confuse signifiers and substance. The truth is hard to know, especially with early stage companies. If you don’t have a product or customers, it’s hard to have substance. Yet whether you’re a startup or investor, you’d be wise to focus on substance rather than signifiers. Not because … Continue reading Don’t Confuse Signifiers and Substance

Talk With Everyone

Reading Mark Suster‘s excellent post, “Why You Need To Take 50 Coffee Meetings” brought to mind one of my personal corollaries: Talk with everyone. I’m a relatively small-time investor. It’s a documented fact, and I don’t try to hide it. But that means that I need to deliver value beyond money if I’m going to … Continue reading Talk With Everyone