How Office Politics Corrupt the Search for High-Potential Employees

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Few topics have captivated talent management discussions more intensely than potential. The obsession with predicting who may be a future star or the next top leader has influenced academic research and human resources practices alike. But how good are we at evaluating human potential? The answer is, it’s mixed. On the one hand, science has given us robust tools and powerful theories to quantify the key indicators of future career success, job performance, and leadership effectiveness. On the other hand, in the real world of work, organizational practices lag behind, with 40% of designated “HiPos” — high-potential employees — not doing well in the future and at least one in two leaders disappointing, derailing, or failing to drive high levels of engagement and team performance.

The main reason underlying this bleak state of affairs is that HiPo nominations are contaminated by organizational politics. To be more precise,

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Marathon #25: Run Crazy Horse in South Dakota

I finished marathon #25 today and checked South Dakota off the list. I ran it with ten friends (nine of us did the marathon, two did the half) who were all part of my Chorus team that I started in June.

While this was one of the most enjoyable marathon weekends that I’ve had, it was a rough marathon for me. I finished it in a personal worst of 5:58:26 (gun time right at 6:00:00 – the clock said 5:59:59, but the website says 6:00:00.)

Things went wrong almost from the beginning. The weather was in the low 30s so I couldn’t decide whether to wear pants or just run in shorts. I was hot in the first mile and my stomach was rumbling. At mile three, we looped back around to the start so I went into the Crazy Horse Visitor Center, took my pants off, and took

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The Feature -> Product -> Company Continuum

I’ve been thinking about the continuum between a feature, product and company a lot recently. Specifically the challenge that companies have as they move across this continuum, how rare that last category really is, and the combination of product idea and market potential that is required for companies to actually make it to Company status.

Most companies begin life somewhere between a feature and a product. They’re started by an entrepreneur trying to solve some problem that s/he finds compelling and generally that problem is a feature of some larger set of problems. At this stage most entrepreneurs are given the advice to “focus”. It’s good advice (and advice I give all the time) but does sometimes perpetuate the feature-ness of the business – you spend your time and effort narrowly on a small number of related features and while you may have some inclination for how these stitch together

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The Unknown Path to a Decentralized Future

Today’s post is over at on “The Unknown Path to a Decentralized Future.” Here is the opening:

Some companies with currently centralized services have been criticized for issuing tokens and raising money in ICOs. There are even allegations that venture investors are pushing companies to do so as a ploy for liquidity. I suspect that some situations like that do actually exist, but I know from first hand conversations that many of the entrepreneurs pursuing this route are doing so out of a genuine conviction that it is the right path to a decentralized future.

Timber! Out of the Woods: Why We Invested in a Startup With a New Approach to Logging

For me, the most exciting time to become involved in a startup is the very earliest of stages, when there is a vision and promise of what could be. Pre-product-market fit. Pre-product, even. That’s exactly when I met Zach Sherman and Ben Johnson of what would become Timber.

When we first talked, they didn’t have a prototype developed yet. They didn’t have an official name. They hadn’t even incorporated the company. In fact, they hadn’t even quit their previous jobs.

However, the two of them shared a vision of a cloud-based logging platform designed to help software developers get more done. One that offered developers context to their logs, centralizing and intelligently parsing to offer them the ability to click, filter, and search in real time. This system, enabled by the new capabilities of tools like Amazon Kinesis and Athena, would empower developers to quickly find whatever they needed, address Continue reading "Timber! Out of the Woods: Why We Invested in a Startup With a New Approach to Logging"

a16z Video: What is the S-curve?

In this animated short video, a16z Partner Benedict Evans describes “the s-curve” in the life cycle of technology innovation, and why it’s important. Technologies like the PC, internet, and mobile phone emerge, grow, and mature in waves — from “a …

20VC: What Metrics LPs Really Use To Measure Manager Success, Why 10 Year Fund Structures Really Do Not Work & Why Venture Is So Similar To The Movie Business with Will Porteous, General Partner @ RRE Ventures

Will Porteous is the General Partner & COO @ RRE Ventures, one of New York's leading venture funds with investments in the likes of Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post, Giphy and Paperless Post just to name a few. As for Will, he works primarily with media and hardware companies, where he is a Director of BuzzFeed, Paperless Post, Spaceflight, and Spire. Prior to VC, Will held senior management positions with SupplyWorks and NetMarket, the e-commerce pioneer now owned by Cendant Corp.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Will made his entry into VC and came to be the hardware and media specialist as General Partner and COO @ RRE Ventures?

2.) Why does WIll believe VC is like the movie industry? How can VCs be prepared to movie producers? How does the talent required to make a great movie resemble that of making a great startup?

3.) Continue reading "20VC: What Metrics LPs Really Use To Measure Manager Success, Why 10 Year Fund Structures Really Do Not Work & Why Venture Is So Similar To The Movie Business with Will Porteous, General Partner @ RRE Ventures"

VC/Founder partnerships and the cycle of destructive deduction and creative induction

I recently read Boyd (h/t and thanks to rands) and it got me thinking about the role of the founder and the VC in a successful partnership. There is a stark difference in the mindset and approach required for founders and VC’s to maximize their contribution to a company. Winning depends on each knowing their role and respecting the role of the other.

The founders I work with know that a critical part of my working style is knowing when to be quiet. I prefer to create silence, even awkward, uncomfortable pauses after a question or a reframing of a challenge because when founders step in and fill the gap in conversation, the quality of the discussion goes up. Every. Single. Time.

My job is to help take a mental model apart. I push founders to pull at the building blocks of the model in an effort to topple the

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Local tech ecosystems: Stop comparing yourselves to Silicon Valley

From Silicon Alley to Silicon Beach, existing tech hubs and emerging ones long to be seen like the Valley: the self-proclaimed epicenter of all things tech. But why is that? When did living in San Francisco become a necessary prerequisite for being a startup founder or employee?

As a New Yorker, I’m a bit biased to the Big Apple — the hustle and bustle of the city and the intrinsic drive that people have here opposite of our laid-back counterparts in the Bay. There are hundreds of tech companies that make up our local ecosystem, yet we still seem to come second to San Francisco. A big blow to the empire state, but an even bigger blow to cities on the horizon.

Emerging hubs like Miami, Raleigh/Durham, Dallas, Nashville, Cincinnati, Detroit and others deserve the same effort, education, and access that we pour into the Bay. Tomorrow’s next tech leaders and talent Continue reading "Local tech ecosystems: Stop comparing yourselves to Silicon Valley"

20VC: The Future Business Model For Drones & Why Enterprise Drones Need To Be As Boring As Possible with Jonathan Downey, Founder & CEO @ Airware

Jonathan Downey is the Founder & CEO @ Airware, the startup that allows you to make better-informed decisions with aerial date, captured by drones. They have raised over $65m in VC funding from some of the very best in the industry including a16z, Kleiner Perkins and Google Ventures just to name a few. Jonathan is also the General Partner @ Commerical Drone Fund, making $250K-$1m investments in early stage companies in the commercial drone space. Prior to Airware, Jonathan was a commercial pilot and a flight controls engineer @ Boeing.


In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Jonathan made the move from commercial pilot to startup founder with one of the hottest drone startups, Airware?

2.) What has been the catalyst for the rising belief in the potential for drones? What has changed about the landscape to make them now not only a commercially viable Continue reading "20VC: The Future Business Model For Drones & Why Enterprise Drones Need To Be As Boring As Possible with Jonathan Downey, Founder & CEO @ Airware"

Market Caps & The 2% Rule

One way to assess whether a startup idea is in a good market is to ask what are the market capitalizations of the biggest companies in that sector. For example in consumer internet, Google ($560 billion) and Facebook ($370 billion), and in enterprise software Microsoft ($460 billion), and Oracle, ($167 billion) are all large, high margin businesses.

Market caps in a pre-existing industry[1] tend to be proxies for the potential of the idea you are working on. There are three reasons for this:
1. The market capitalization of a set of companies reflects revenue in the market, growth rate of revenue and earnings, and the margins of the companies.
These core metrics used by wall street to value a stock are all metrics that help you understand whether a market is overall large, growing and profitable - all signs of a good market to enter.

2. Often, potential competitors Continue reading "Market Caps & The 2% Rule"

Who is #LongLA?

This is a list of known firms and individuals with a home base or whose investment focus includes Southern California. It includes Accelerators, Angels, Corporate VCs, Family Offices, Hedge Funds, Seed Funds and Traditional VCs.

The list was inspired by @shaig‘s seed fund google doc. Tweet or comment additions, corrections or deletions. “Home base” definition and right to add is at my discretion. Investors w/ known funds are listed under Fund Name (ie: Matt Mazzeo via Lowercase Capital and Michael Eisner via Tornante Company)

Google Doc is accessible here. Originally created July 5, 2014 and has been modified many times.

#LongLA Tech Investor List

Imaging, Snapchat and mobile

For the first time, pretty much everyone on earth is going to have a camera. Over 5bn people will have a mobile phone, almost all will be smartphones and almost all will have cameras. Far more people will be taking far more photos than ever before - even today maybe 50-100 times more photos are taken each year than were taken on film. 

Talking about 'cameras' taking 'photos', though, is a pretty narrow way to think about this - rather like calling those internet-connected pocket supercomputers 'phones'. Yes, the sensor can capture something that looks like the prints you got with a 35mm camera, or that looks like the footage a video camera could take. And, yes, it's easier to show those images to your friends on the internet than by post, and easier to edit or crop them, or adjust the colours, so it's a better camera. But Continue reading "Imaging, Snapchat and mobile"


I'm going to say something very unpopular in my world: Trump is right about some big things.

He's right that many Americans are getting screwed by the system.  He’s right that the economy is not growing nearly fast enough.  He's right that we're drowning in political correctness, and that broken campaign finance laws have bred a class of ineffective career politicians.  He may even be right that free trade is not the best policy.  Trump supporters are not dumb.

But Trump is wrong about the more important part: how to fix these problems.  Many of his proposals, such as they are, are so wrong they’re difficult to even respond to.

Even more dangerous, though, is the way he's wrong.  He is not merely irresponsible.  He is irresponsible in the way dictators are.

Trump's casual racism, misogyny, and conspiracy theories are without precedent among major presidential Continue reading "Trump"