I’ve been thinking a lot about gross profit (and gross margin) lately. Yeah, I know I can be riveting, but stay with me.
When I was in Boston a while ago (it was very cold, so it must have been January), I had a wide-ranging conversation with Eric Paley. This was before the IPO Summer of 2019 when all conventional valuation metrics have entered the land of “suspension of disbelief” which is short-term good and long-term well-we-will-see-…-eventually
One of our conversational threads was about how to value companies. We ended up talking about using Gross Profit, instead of Revenue, to do valuation analysis.
We’ve been doing this for a long time at Foundry Group. Since we invest across a number of different themes, we’ve had to deal with very different revenue and gross margin profiles since the beginning, whether we realized it or not.
I’m a huge fan of Elizabeth Kraus, Sue Heilbronner, and the work they do through MergeLane.
Recently Elizabeth started a platform for the next generation of venture capitalists called Fund81. It includes a podcast, which has both a public section for everyone and a private section for the Fund81 members.
Elizabeth recently interviewed me for Episode 13 where we talked about maintaining mental health in the fast-paced venture capital world while supporting portfolio companies, colleagues, friends, and family wrestling with mental health issues. The public section follows.
Elizabeth and Sue – thanks for everything you and the team at MergeLane do for entrepreneurs and now other VCs.
I’m lazy blogging this week as I get ready to go on vacation for the July 4th holiday. So, here’s another set of videos to watch, which is the entire Street Level Startups series from Colorado Public Television. I’ve watched them all now and they are a great history of how the entrepreneurship scene in Colorado has evolved recently, along with a bunch of fun highlights of people and companies.
Street Level Startups: The New Gold Rush
Street Level Startups: When an Idea Strikes – Stories of
One person pointed to the video I embedded, which I thought was great. It’s an extensive explanation of things in HBO’s Chernobyl that were either simply wrong or exaggerated. The video is entertaining as well as substantive, so it’s a good addition to the content from the show.
Separately, I listened to The Chernobyl Podcast on my drive up to Aspen about two weeks ago. If you watched the HBO Chernobyl docudrama, the accompanying podcast is a must listen. Peter Sagal (host of NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!) interviews Craig Mazin (Chernobyl Series Creator and Executive Producer.) Peter is an awesome host and he pulls out a ton
Colorado Public Television takes an in-depth look at Colorado’s thriving startup scene in its new 5-part season called Street Level Startups.
The first episode, which is above, includes me and Jared Polis reflecting on some fun Techstars founding history, Dan Caruso talking about Zayo and the bridge between Boulder / Denver, and a great segment at the end with Brad Bernthal talking about fundraising and #GiveFirst. And, plenty of other stuff.
It was fun to watch a bunch of the old video from the last dozen years in one place. I love living and working here.
This first appeared in the Boulder Community Health Foundation Summer 2019 Magazinein an article titled Taking On The Mental Health Stigma.
I started the second week of 2013 in Las Vegas at the
Consumer Electronics Show. Within two hours of arriving, I was in my hotel
room, the shade closed, the door locked, and in bed with a pillow over my head.
I couldn’t deal with anything at all. Having been here before, I knew I was in
a deep depression.
From all external perspectives, my life was going great. I
was healthy, my business (Foundry Group) was successful, I had an excellent
marriage to Amy Batchelor, was surrounded by numerous friends, and I got to
live in Boulder, Colorado. But I was physiologically exhausted from 2012. I’d
run an ultra-marathon in the spring that I never recovered from, had a
near-death bike accident, and squeezed a marathon in
Seriously, go by it right now. I’ll be here when you return.
Regular readers of this blog know that Jerry and I are extremely close friends and have been for 23 years. I first met Jerry when he was beginning his partnership with Fred Wilson at Flatiron Partners. But, I didn’t meet him through Fred. I met him through NetGenesis, a company I was chairman of at the time that had been started by Rajat Bhargava (who we still work with as CEO of JumpCloud), Matt Cutler (who we still work with as CEO of Blocknative). I won’t repeat the story of Brad, Jerry, eShare, and NetGenesis, but it makes me incredibly happy to reflect on 23 years of friendship, which nicely lines up with
Amy and I are celebrating our 29/26/23rd anniversary today.
It’s the summer solstice, which is a special day for us.
29 years ago we officially started dating.
26 years ago we declared ourselves married (and eloped.)
23 years ago we signed an official piece of paper that was witnessed at the Boulder County Clerk’s Office because it was a pain in the ass to not be officially married.
When I reflect on the last 29 years of my life, it’s been a remarkable experience to get to share it with Amy. When we started dating, I was 24 years old. I lived in Boston. I was running my first company. I lived in a 24,000 cubic foot loft. I was struggling through a divorce, a failed Ph.D. experience, and a very stressful software consulting company, that, while performing well, consumed 100 hours a week of me.
Over the past few years, you’ve seen me write about Glowforge, the 3D laser printer that made history with their crowdfunding campaign back in 2015.
Glowforge launched that very campaign at a jam-packed World New York Maker Faire, where folks lined up for hours to get a glimpse at the shiny new machine. Over the next 30 days, they sold $28 million worth of pre-orders to an insatiable crowd of makers.
More recently, Glowforge was named Make magazine’s 2019 Editor’s Choice for a laser cutter. Their thousands of makers have already printed more than 3,000,000 amazing creations. And as a company, they have seen sales triple in just the last year.
So it was sobering when, last week, Maker Faire / Make Media closed their doors for good. In interviews, Make founder Dale Dougherty explains that the company wasn’t interesting to investors anymore, and that, frustratingly, it was failing as
I recently met Renata George through a referral from Katie Rae (MIT Engine CEO, previously Techstars Boston MD). Renata told me about a book she was working on called Women Who Venture and asked me if I’d write the foreword.
As an avid writer and reader, I feel that a book is a unique medium that serves a different purpose than the other written media that we consume regularly. A book can display a variety of perspectives at once, providing enough details on the subjects it explores, while giving us space to contemplate.
When Renata George told me she was going to write a book about Women Who Venture, featuring around a hundred female investors of different generations, I immediately said I’d be
I watched HBO’s Chernobyl the past few nights. I finished it last night, took a deep breath, and said out loud to myself, “that was spectacular.”
One of the final quotes that stuck with me is the title of this post. The full quote is “Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later that debt is paid.”
Read it again. “Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later that debt is paid.” Pause and ponder it. Think about our current world. Let the line linger a bit in your mind.
Now, watch the following ten-minute video for the comparison of Chernobyl to real historical footage. It’s incredibly powerful to watch this after you’ve watched Chernobyl, but may be even more powerful to watch it prior to watching the miniseries, which some are calling a docudrama. While some
I spent the day yesterday in Grand Junction at Techstars Startup Week West Slope. After a full day of meetings, events, and talks, I ended up at dinner with a half-dozen CEOs of startups in the area (Grand Junction, Carbondale, Eagle, and Telluride.) I was pretty wiped out from the day and general bail out of dinners between 7:30pm and 8:00pm but we ended up going extremely deep on a bunch of personal and emotional stuff so when I got back to my hotel around 10:00pm I was pleasantly surprised with the tenor of the evening.
While there is endless writing about what to do to build your business, how awesome things are going, and why startups are so
David and I are starting to get better at the podcast thing. It’s a new medium for both of us so we are learning and iterating quickly on what makes a good podcast interview. Any feedback – good and bad – is welcome.
One of my guilty pleasures is reading biographies about financiers and their companies. On Saturday, I gobbled down King of Capital, which is the story of Steve Schwarzman and Blackstone from inception through 2011.
King of Capital was a really useful book to read on a number of levels. One thing it reminded me of was to read histories of contemporary organizations that were written in the past. While 2011 is only eight years ago, it’s a lifetime in the world of finance, private equity, venture capital, and business. And, the
My dad had his 60-year reunion at Columbia this weekend. He looks great.
This morning, I did a talk with Om Malik at the Startup Iceland 2019 conference. Om was in a hotel room somewhere and I was in my office in Boulder. We used Zoom, took about 30 minutes of our lives, and had fun riffing off each other. I hope it was useful for the audience, as doing talks this way is so much easier for me than flying halfway around the world, which is something I simply don’t want to do anymore in my life now that I’m 53. But, I’ll happily do a video talk anytime.
Bala Kamallakharan, who is the founder of Startup Iceland, asked a question of us at the end about the future. I went on a rant that is an evolution of my “machines
I was at a board meeting last week that introduced something new into the mix that I thought was brilliant.
At the beginning of each section of the board meeting, there was one slide that was titled: “What Are We Trying To Get Out of This Section.” Before we started into a section, whoever was leading it walked everybody in the room specifically through what she was expecting to get out of the section.
I think we did this five times over a 3.5 hour board meeting. The first time it felt a little pedantic, but by the last time it was clearly magical. Each “What Are We Trying To Get Out of This Section” was different. Sometimes it was a decision. Other times it was feedback. Once it was a set of introductions.
You could feel the people in the room get recalibrated whenever this slide came
I read Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things last weekend. This is the third time I’ve read it. It gets better each time. If you are a CEO and you haven’t read it, buy it right now and read it next weekend.
There are endless gems in the book, many of them from Ben’s own experience. My favorite of all time, that stays with me through all the work I do, is his distinction between “peace time” and “war time.”