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

Permanent Portfolio Investing

I learned about Harry Browne‘s “permanent portfolio” from Josh “Personal MBA” Kaufman’s blog. If Harry’s name sounds familiar, you might remember him as the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000.Browne wrote extensively about investment topics, starting with his first book, 1970’s “How You Can Profit From The Coming Devaluation”. In his 2001 book, … Continue reading Permanent Portfolio Investing

The Power of Love (And Investors)

In this post, I’ll argue that the power of love comes mostly from stuff that doesn’t happen, and for bonus points, explain how my theory of love impacts how a startup should choose its investors. *** My life is filled with love. I have family, friends, and last but not least (okay, maybe least) you, … Continue reading The Power of Love (And Investors)

Nothing Matters But Traction

Nothing matters but traction. It makes everything easy, but it is the hardest to accomplish. Too many entrepreneurs focus on working around a lack of traction when they would be better off using that energy to get traction. A common occurrence is that an entrepreneur comes to me asking for money. “I need money for … Continue reading Nothing Matters But Traction

Can We Ever Have Too Many Startups?

My recent post on the diatom bloom in the startup ecosystem prompted calls for me to dig deeper and provide more data. Far be it from me to disappoint! Chris Tacy asked, are we seeing too many startups? It’s a loaded question, but a good one. My instinctive reaction is that it’s always good to … Continue reading Can We Ever Have Too Many Startups?

The Diatom Bloom in Investing

You can think of the startup ecosystem as a food chain, with different species fulfilling different ecological niches. Angel Investors feed on tiny early-stage deals, while VCs gobble up bigger deals. Private equity, corporate buyers, and the public markets make up the higher reaches of the chain. What we’re going through now is the equivalent … Continue reading The Diatom Bloom in Investing

How Bernie Madoff Got Away With The Biggest Fraud In History

My friend Bill Burnham (a hedge fund manager who also spent time as an investment banker and venture capitalist) has a great analysis of Bernie Madoff’s fraud on his most recent blog post. Definitely read the whole thing, but here’s the single best paragraph: What makes this fraud truly genius is that everyone on the … Continue reading How Bernie Madoff Got Away With The Biggest Fraud In History

BRK + GS: You heard it here first

As I predicted last week, Goldman Sachs turned to Warren Buffett for additional liquidity. While it’s not an outright purchase, Buffett did agree to invest $5 billion in cash…considering Goldman has a market cap of around $50 billion, that’s a pretty significant stake. And Warren got a sweet deal too…perpetual preferred shares that pay a … Continue reading BRK + GS: You heard it here first

Checkout Line Bingo: Why You Should Invest in Index Funds

Time and time again, financial experts recommend that we invest in index funds. But despite their carefully reasoned arguments, index funds and ETFs only account for 17% of equity assets. Despite being the cheaper, better performing solution, most investors don’t seem to buy into the pro-index arguments on a visceral level. And while John Bogle, … Continue reading Checkout Line Bingo: Why You Should Invest in Index Funds