I’m on a Mission


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I’m on a mission to teach 10,000 accredited investors how to angel invest and share their deals.

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As many of you know, I wrote the book ANGEL, created a companion podcast and now I’m hosting a half-day course called Angel University.

Here are the upcoming dates for our Angel University courses:

  • April 23: Boston, MA
  • April 24: New York City (supported by EquityZen)
  • April 26: Columbus, OH (hosted by WillowWorks)
  • April 29: Miami, FL
  • June 17: Sydney, Australia
  • July 15: San Francisco

The Angel University curriculum is designed for everyone, from angels who haven’t done a deal yet to seasoned angels who have done over 100. We cover five key topics: sourcing deals, evaluating startups, negotiating deals, portfolio and bankroll management, and post-deal efforts. It’s a ton of fun.

The tour workshops are four hours and are followed Continue reading “I’m on a Mission”

Why People Don’t Get Wealthy


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I threw out a tweet over the weekend titled “reasons people don’t get wealthy,” and I listed nine reasons and asked folks to add their 10th, 11th and 12th.  

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I didn’t put any thought into the order of the list, since I wrote it in a stream of consciousness style, but I made sure to include factors that people don’t have any control over, such as, what time and the country they were born in because, obviously, if you were born in North Korea today or were Irish (like my ancestors) at the turn of the 19th century, you probably had zero to little chance of changing your station in life.

Right now I’m very interested in bringing up the topic of wealth, success and achievement in America because a vocal minority of youngsters (I’m old now!)

Continue reading “Why People Don’t Get Wealthy”

How to Raise Money Instantly for Your Startup


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Exterior, San Francisco’s SOMA district, two nerds, walking briskly. Tents, traffic, and garbage — everywhere.

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Founder, excited: “JCal, I just got some advice from an advisor that I should call my first round of funding a ‘pre-seed’ round so that the optics are clean when I go for my Seed Round and Series A…”

Angel: “Hmmm…”

Founder, more excited: “you knowin case I don’t have product-market fit and investors think we’re a zombie startup… trapped between our Seed and Series A funding.“

Angel: “It’s irrelevant, all of it.”

Founder, confused: “My startup? The Pre-Seed Round? The advice? My life?”  

Angel: “All that matters, is the chart.”

—————-

Founders get too much free advice these days, most of it from folks who have never built or invested in a Continue reading “How to Raise Money Instantly for Your Startup”

What is a startup vs a lifestyle business (and why it matters for VCs)


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There is a lot of misconception around the moniker “lifestyle business,” with many founders thinking it’s an insult, which is understandable since said moniker usually comes from an investor with a pile of money and who is giving a “hard no” to a founder who just spent the time to pitch them — in rejection, comes reaction.

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When people in Silicon Valley call a startup a lifestyle business, they are actually implying that it’s a GREAT lifestyle for the founders, perhaps with a certainty of pulling out a million or two in profits a year, as opposed to the 5-10% chance of waiting a decade to have a greater return.

VCs tend to be impressed with these lifestyle businesses and their advice is given because it’s in everyone’s best interest — it’s certainly not to diminish founders.

As I

Continue reading “What is a startup vs a lifestyle business (and why it matters for VCs)”

How to Predict the Future (Don’t)


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Nobody can predict the future.

Everybody can tell you what’s possible.

The art is in knowing what’s probable.

I’ve spent the last 10 years investing in startups, half that time as a hobby and half that time as a career, and in that time I’ve learned that most people are scared, little aliens.

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All day long I ask people what they want to happen in the future and what their plan is to make that vision materialize, and the bold and true of heart answer these questions without pause. They have studied their market, talking to customers and doing competitive intelligence on incumbents. They have timelines they’ve built, tests they want to run and a plan B and C in case they run out, or get offered a bucketload, of money.

However, the majority of tourists I meet in Continue reading “How to Predict the Future (Don’t)”

Resolving co-founder conflicts


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Related image

Got a lot of feedback on my post on “How to find a co-founder” yesterday, including founders asking me how they can resolve conflicts with their co-founders.

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This is one of the hardest questions for me to answer because conflicts are so situational, often personal and if they are hard to resolve they are often complex with multiple resolution paths.

Before we talk about the conflict at hand, we need to look at the founders themselves and ask, are these emotionally mature founders who are self-aware? Most of the founders I work with are highly-driven, highly-skilled, persuasive and passionate individuals, but often they are young and emotionally inexperienced. Sometimes they are older but not very self-aware.

Most conflicts I see are a subset of all startup conflicts: the problems co-founders can’t resolve and they bring to a Continue reading “Resolving co-founder conflicts”

How to find a co-founder for your startup


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If you’re a first-time founder, you probably want to have a co-founder or two to lean on.

The second most frequent question I get from new founders, after “will you give me $250,000?” is, “do you know a technical co-founder?”

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If you can’t find a co-founder for your startup, you’ve disqualified yourself as a fundable entrepreneur, because who in their right mind would back someone who can’t convince just once talented person to join them on a crazy journey?

Finding a co-founder isn’t easy, but it’s not the hardest thing you’ll do as a founder, and recruiting for your startup is going to be a lifelong practice.

It. Never. Ends.

I’m 30 years into my career in technology and I’m still spending a significant portion of my time building my teams.

That being said, there is a Continue reading “How to find a co-founder for your startup”

Spreading the Gospel of Angel Investing (Hong Kong next week)


This post is by jasoncalacanis from The personal blog of Jason Calacanis.


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As many of you know from reading (or listening) to my book, I’ve taken on the challenge of educating and inspiring rich people to angel invest in startups.

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Rich people are sitting on large hoards of zombie capital, be it bonds, index funds or cash, that sit passively in the cloud, allowing the rich to stay rich, beating inflation and sometimes a bit better.

Sure, some of these bonds and index funds are backing interesting projects, but the truth is, this capital doesn’t change the world in the way startups do. I’m trying to inspire 10,000 rich people to become half- to full-time angel investors, moving a small percentage of their zombie capital, on an individual basis, into startups.

If 10,000 individuals worth $10m each put 5% of their net worth — $500,000 — into angel investing over the Continue reading “Spreading the Gospel of Angel Investing (Hong Kong next week)”

Will an Amazon.com come out of the crypto collapse?


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Yesterday I had Anthony Pompliano on my podcast to discuss crypto. He runs a crypto fund, and we’ve had a great time debating ICO scams, Bitcoin Zero and token-based equity on Twitter for the past couple of months.

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He was a fantastic guest, and despite our Twitter debates, it turns out that we agree on about 90% of what’s happening in crypto right now.

The big question I tried to figure out on the podcast, and that I’ve been trying to figure out personally as an investor is, will a killer use case and $100b startup come out of the crypto and ICO crater of 2018 — which saw most ICOs and imaginary digital currencies lose 90-99% of their value.

In other words, will an Amazon.com, led by a visionary founder, come out of this global, anonymous gaggle Continue reading “Will an Amazon.com come out of the crypto collapse?”

Founders: Watch the FYRE doc and learn what not to do


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At Fyre Festival, guests get cheese and bread instead of ...
Founders: Watch the FYRE doc and learn what not to do

Last night I watched the schadenfreudeful documentary FYRE on Netflix, which chronicles a sociopathic grifter named Billy McFarland and his greedy celebrity partner Ja Rule, as they bilk investors and music-festival-going Instagrammers out of their money.

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The movie is a commentary on the power of social media models like Kylie Jenner, combined with a criminal disguising himself as a visionary founder.

FYRE has flashes of the familiar startup and entrepreneurial struggle, with insane deadlines and a cash crunch being resolved with a combination of brilliant, world-class marketing and bold fundraising driven by RFID bracelets being loaded with cash and angel investors pouring money into an event that the founder knows is a multilayered fraud.

McFarland’s enablers detail their journey from true believers in the original vision of Fyre, Continue reading “Founders: Watch the FYRE doc and learn what not to do”

This is your Captain again, I’m canceling drink service


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In July I wrote a message to my founders, warning that things could get choppy, titled “This is your Captain speaking, I’m turning on the fasten seat belt sign.”

Well, this is your captain again, and we’ve got turbulence ahead so I’m canceling drink service and asking everyone to check your seatbelts.

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On the day I wrote the last piece the NASDAQ was at 7,932 (July 25th), and over the next couple of months, it crashed over 20% to 6,192.

It’s since recovered to ~7,000.

While no one can time the market, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

The Black Swans are hiding all around us in plain sight, while at the same time big tech companies have soaring sales, letting them build mountains and mountains of cash.

When I Continue reading “This is your Captain again, I’m canceling drink service”

Always Have a Plan B and C Teed Up


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I spent 10 years living in Los Angeles, traveling up to the Bay Area every other week, sometimes weekly, to do angel investing.

During that time I learned that SFO is a complete disaster, with Karl the Fog creating all kinds of trouble. Also, I was frequently missing flights with insanely unpredictable traffic patterns in L.A. and the Bay.

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When I made a little cheddar, I started treating myself to the fully refundable Southwest Premier tickets, you know the ones, that let you board first and take the aisle seat in row two. The coveted seat that lets you put your bag under the seat in front of you which in turn lets you bolt past the row one customers who are fumbling for their overhead luggage.

So, I started having my EA book me three flights back Continue reading “Always Have a Plan B and C Teed Up”

Zuckerberg tries to buy off journalists with .3% of Facebook’s yearly revenue


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Yesterday I wrote the first piece in a three-part series about how Facebook could turn around their “WORST. YEAR. EVAR!!!”

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The basic premise: share revenue with publishers, Instagrammers/influencers, App developers and anyone else creating content on the platform, just like YouTube, Airbnb, Apple and Google’s App Stores and countless other partnership platforms do.

Right on cue, Facebook does the most misguided, heavy-handed and unsustainable version of sharing the wealth, by sharing $100m a year — .3% of their yearly revenue — in a series of grants.

The cynical take is that these kinds of one-time payoffs, to highly influential media organizations, are designed to silence and tamper criticism — they’re buying off influential people for a pittance.

The most gracious take is that Facebook feels bad for being such a horrible partner to the press and democracy.

Continue reading “Zuckerberg tries to buy off journalists with .3% of Facebook’s yearly revenue”

Saving Facebook, a Three-Part Strategy for the New CEO


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Orson Welles Vintage GIF

Facebook’s self-inflicted wounds come from their founder’s obsession with growth, which at its core was based on three extraordinary tactics: removing friction, staying focused on global growth and stealing other people’s ideas.

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There is no debate over this.

If Zuckerberg had not set the tone of “move fast and break things,” the company would have been more thoughtful about their growth, and if they didn’t steal other people innovations so systematically — from Friendster to FriendFeed to Twitter to Snapchat — they would never have dominated the planet.

Of course, that obsession with speed and copying has resulted in — as Zuck himself instructed — the breaking of things, including our privacy and our democracy.

Well done!

In this three-part series, I’m going to outline what the new CEO of Facebook should do to reverse the massive ill will Continue reading “Saving Facebook, a Three-Part Strategy for the New CEO”

A carry comp kerfuffle in Micro VC land


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The SJW crowd piled on to a job posting for a part-time VC job at a micro VC yesterday. The job posting was for 20 hours a week and the compensation was based on a share of the carry.

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Here is how carry works, briefly: if the Fund invests $2m on behalf of investors and turns it into $22M (11x, cash on cash) the gain would be $20M. The carry would be 20-30% of that gain, depending on the deal with LPs (limited partners), which means $4-6M in gain.

[ Note: A 10x fund is the outlier goal. ]

If the Fund manager gives this “Chief of Staff” position 20% of the carry it would be $800-1.2m for a part-time job. Note: 20% would be very generous if the person had cash comp, but if the person takes Continue reading “A carry comp kerfuffle in Micro VC land”

Why aren’t VC firms focused on slow/modest growth startups?


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Yesterday’s post mocking the New York Times’ link-baiting story created a lot of debate on Twitter.

One thing that came up was, why don’t venture capitalists fund slower growth startups? Or, said another way, why don’t VCs invest in startups that grow at a normal pace?

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The number one job of a venture capitalist is to stay a venture capitalist.

This might sound cynical but, as a VC, if you don’t return enough money to your LPs (limited partners, a VC’s investors) you will not be able to raise your next fund. If you don’t raise your next fund, you’re not collecting management fees to pay yourself and your team, and you don’t have a chip stack to play in “the big game.”

If you want to STAY a venture capitalist you need to land these “dragon egg” Continue reading “Why aren’t VC firms focused on slow/modest growth startups?”

WARNING: Venture Capital is for founders who want to grow fast (duh)


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Once again, the press is here to remind poor, unsuspecting founders that venture capital can — GASP! — result in your startup trying to grow too fast. From today’s New York Times comes the link-baiting title: “More Start-Ups Have an Unfamiliar Message for Venture Capitalists: Get Lost:”

The V.C. business model, on which much of the modern tech industry was built, is simple: Start-ups raise piles of money from investors, and then use the cash to grow aggressively — faster than the competition, faster than regulators, faster than most normal businesses would consider sane. Larger and larger rounds of funding follow. The end goal is to sell or go public, producing astonishing returns for early investors. The setup has spawned household names like Facebook, Google and Uber, as well as hundreds of other so-called unicorn companies valued at more than $1 billion.

New York Times

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Podcast Recommendation: “Cafe Insider” & “Stay Tuned with Preet”


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Yesterday I shared my personal theory on what makes a great podcaster and recommended “The Bret Easton Ellis Podcast.”

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Today I’m recommending another person I think fits my three criteria, which are, as a refresher:

  1. They’re successful in their field, but not the most successful
  2. The have strong opinions and like to mix it up, but they know how to listen
  3. They don’t care what people think of them, but they want people to tune in

Preet Bharara was the former Attorney General for the Southern District of New York, was fired by Trump and is part of the composite that Brian Koppelman used for the brilliant and sharp-elbowed AG played by Paul Giamatti in the extraordinary “Billions”.

[It’s important to note the word composite in the previous paragraph, because as Preet hilariously told on an early podcast, Continue reading “Podcast Recommendation: “Cafe Insider” & “Stay Tuned with Preet””

Podcast Recommendation: Bret Easton Ellis


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My theory of podcasting is that the best shows are hosted by iconoclasts who share three traits:

  1. They’re successful in their field, but not the most successful
  2. The have strong opinions and like to mix it up, but they know how to listen
  3. They don’t care what people think of them, but they want people to tune in

These people are unmanageable by the corporate entertainment complex, so you won’t find them on cable TV.  

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Sure, they would be great guests themselves, but only on a longer form talk show. If you run a network, you would never give them their own show, and if you did it would end in a barn fire.

One of my favorite podcasts is the Bret Easton Ellis Podcast, by the famous author of books like “Less Than Zero” and “American Continue reading “Podcast Recommendation: Bret Easton Ellis”

Lean Management: The Power of the EOD Report


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Wanted to talk to you today about a lightweight management technique I’ve developed over the years called “The EOD and EOW.”

When we hire someone, I tell them that we don’t have management at LAUNCH, that it’s a flat organization and our goal is to stay small but increase our efficiency.

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There isn’t a massive reporting structure and you have to manage yourself, and the primary way we do that is an end of day report called the EOD.

The implicit deal is that you’re not going to be micromanaged, or candidly, managed at all, but you will need to “put up numbers” and be accountable to the rest of the team.

The report format is simple and has the following characteristics:

  1. It’s a bullet point list of what you worked on today.
  2. It should take no longer than Continue reading “Lean Management: The Power of the EOD Report”