The First Round BOT

The dictionary defines a bot as “an autonomous computer program that performs time-consuming tasks, esp on the internet”.  Those of you who know First Round Capital have learned that we are fanatics about measurement and metrics.  We believe that it is easier to improve something when you have a metric, and can tell objectively when things get better.  Analytics are at the heart of web based businesses, and we’ve also made them at the heart of our FRC culture. This past week, we held our Annual meeting with our investors.  We have been collecting data almost since day one about every aspect of our business – deal flow, voting habits, performance of companies, performance of our portfolio, etc. 

To make sense of all this data we are fortunate to have built an outstanding BOT.  This one is not a computer, but our Back Office Team.   Led by Jeff Donnon, our CFO, this group of five people did yeoman’s work, both on and off the computer, to put together the charts, graphs and data analyses that help us provide strong transparency to our investors. When you look at almost 3,000 deals each year, and tens of funding events, there is a huge amount of data to make sense of.  Yet our BOT, which I doubt we could automate into a “bot”, has done this work quarter after quarter to make sense of our investment pace, decision timing, reserve planning and so many other factors. They are helping us to find the signals in all this noisy data.  While the business of judging entrepreneurs and ideas will always require some key human judgments, having our BOT adds analytics that let us focus our attention on the people part of the equation, while adding the quantitative view to our process.

So kudos to the team, and I’d encourage any of you who want to adhere to the high standards of transparency that we do, to build a BOT that can not only crunch numbers, but also help make sense out of them.