Author: Brad Feld

Navigating Choppy Waters


This post is by Brad Feld from Brad Feld


In the last seven months, the venture / entrepreneurial world has gone from “the only thing that matters is massive growth” to “the world is going to end.” For perspective, all you need to do is look at a dozen high-flying IPOs from 2020 or 2021 to see that the peak happened just before Thanksgiving.

The private markets lag the public markets. That’s not new. This time around, the lag was about a quarter, as many VCs started to talk about what was happening around the beginning of Q2.

There is no doubt that we are in the middle of, well, whatever you want to call it. “Correction” and “Choppy Waters” is probably a generous phrase for what is going on.

Having lived through this as an entrepreneur in 1987, an entrepreneur and VC in 2001, a VC in 2008, and a VC today, I embrace that this is just part of the entrepreneurial and economic cycle. I also know that many people freak out at this moment. If you’ve never been through this (like I hadn’t in 1987), it can be terrifying. If you are experienced and suddenly find yourself caught flat-footed for any number of reasons, it can be equally terrifying.

I no longer believe in clichés or prognostications such as “make sure you have three years of money in the bank” or “do a RIF quickly and deeply regardless of the situation you are in.” Instead, I think it is crucial for each company to understand its (Read more...)

Book: Startup Boards, 2nd Edition Is Available


This post is by Brad Feld from Brad Feld


The 2nd Edition of my book Startup Boards: A Field Guide to Building and Leading an Effective Board of Directors launched today.

My co-authors, Matt Blumberg, the CEO of Bolster, and Mahendra Ramsinghani, were a joy to work with.

While the 1st Edition was a good book, I wasn’t particularly proud of it because I didn’t feel like it was my best writing. We worked hard on this edition, and I now feel like it’s equivalent in quality to my other books.

Effective boards are critical at this moment in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. While I hope this downturn is short, I think it will be long and painful. In either case, highly functioning boards can help startups navigate this moment, while dysfunctional and weak boards can accelerate the demise of startups.

If you have a board of directors, want to have a well functioning one, are a director, or want to be a director, I encourage you to grab a copy of Startup Boards: A Field Guide to Building and Leading an Effective Board of Directors.

The post Book: Startup Boards, 2nd Edition Is Available appeared first on Brad Feld.

Down Rounds: Deal With Reality


This post is by Brad Feld from Brad Feld


Connie Loizos is one of the long-time tech industry writers who I respect. I don’t respond to many interview requests these days, but I’ll always talk to her.

She has a good article today in TechCrunch titled Embrace the down round (it’s going to be okay, maybe). I like the quote she pulled out of me in our conversation.

[Brad Feld] says his “strong belief” that “just doing a clean resetting — at whatever the valuation so that everybody is aligned and dealing with reality —  is much, much better for a company.”

Now, I’m not encouraging anyone to do a down round if unnecessary., especially when many existing investors are currently willing to add on additional dollars at the most recent valuation. If you can do this cleanly, take the money.

Rather, when you have a choice between a financing at a lower valuation and a financing with all kinds of crazy structure to try to maintain a previous valuation, negotiate the best price you can but do a clean financing with no structure.

If you don’t know what I mean by structure, they are terms like:

  • Multiple liquidation preferences (you’ll start seeing lots of 2x and 3x on new money)
  • Participating preferred on new money
  • Weird ratchets (other than the typical weighted average), including full ratchets, on next round financings
  • Annual preferred return, including PIK and cash pay on new money
  • Blocks on all kinds of things that a new investor should not have blocking rights on

… and (Read more...)

Summer Is Here


This post is by Brad Feld from Brad Feld


About a year ago, I decided to take a summer vacation from blogging. I didn’t feel like blogging when summer ended, so I extended my blogging vacation indefinitely. I figured I’d wake up one day and feel like blogging again or not. That summer vacation (from blogging) lasted a year.

Initially, I was working on a new book that I got bored of midway through the summer. I put it on the shelf with several other partially completed books. Google Docs now has a surprising number of my started but unfinished books.

Sometime in the fall, Matt Blumberg approached me about doing a 2nd Edition of Startup Boards. Matt and I were on the board together of Return Path, his previous company, for almost 20 years. So when Mahendra Ramsinghani came out with the 1st Edition of Startup Boards in 2013, Matt gave me plenty of feedback on the book. Then, in fall 2021, he correctly suggested that the book needed a significant refresh.

While I always felt the 1st Edition was an important book, I never loved it. Mahendra and I worked hard on it, but I felt like I forced a lot of my writing at some point. Long-time readers of this blog know I had an extended depressive episode in the first half of 2013, and this book was one of the chores that I felt like I just had to get done in that period. Mahendra was kind and patient with me, but I’m sure (Read more...)

Startup CXO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Company’s Critical Functions and Teams


This post is by Brad Feld from Feld Thoughts


Matt Blumberg has a new book out titled Startup CXO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Company’s Critical Functions and Teams. It’s a follow-up to his previous book, Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business.

I’ve been working with Matt since 2000. That year, we merged two companies: Return Path and Veripost. Matt was the co-founder/CEO of Return Path. Fred Wilson was his lead investor. I was the lead investor for Veripost. The two companies did the same thing and were the only two competitors in a nascent category called “email change of address” (Veripost’s original name was IECOA which stood for “Internet Email Change of Address”). They were bashing each other over the head in a non-existent market as the Internet bubble began collapsing.

The founders of each company talked and, in between efforts to decimate the other, agreed it might be worth merging to survive. This guy named Greg Sands at a firm called Sutter Hill had met with both and was interested in the category and encouraged them to merge, at which point he’d fund the combined company. Fred called me and said, “Let’s figure out a deal.” I said, “They are both worthless right now – how about 50/50?” Fred responded with, “I have more money invested in Return Path than you do in Veripost – how about 55/45.” I answered, “Deal.” So for the deal, investors on both sides converted to common, we split the combined company 55/45, Matt (Read more...)

Investment vs. Speculation


This post is by Brad Feld from Feld Thoughts


I reread Enough.: True Measures of Money, Business, and Life by John C. Bogle over the weekend. I’d read it in 2012 and it had a huge impact on me.

If you aren’t familiar with John C. Bogle, he founded The Vanguard Group, is credited with inventing the index fund and is a spectacular writer (every one of his books is worth reading.) He passed away in 2019 at the age of 89, but I expect his legacy will last a very long time.

I was pondering some things that were bothering me, specifically about crypto, but more generally about current themes around investing. I thought I’d revisit Enough. to see if it helped me work them out. I found my answer in Chapter 2: “Too Much Speculation, Not Enough Investment.”

Let’s start with Bogle’s definition of Investing and Speculating.

Investing is all about the long-term ownership of businesses. Business focuses on the gradual accumulation of intrinsic value, derived from the ability of our publicly owned corporations to produce the goods and services that our consumers and savers demand, to compete effectively, to thrive on entrepreneurship, and to capitalize on change. Business adds value to our society, and to the wealth of our investors.

Speculating is precisely the opposite. It is all about the short-term trading, not long-term holding, of financial instruments — pieces of paper, not businesses — largely focused on the belief that their prices, as distinct from their intrinsic value, will rise; indeed, an expectation (Read more...)

Colorado Startup Summer 2021 – Request for Companies


This post is by Brad Feld from Feld Thoughts


CU’s Silicon Flatirons Center Startup Summer is back!

Startup Summer provides a fantastic experience for college-age students and interns interested in entrepreneurship and the Front Range emerging company scene.

Startup Summer is a free offering that enhances your company’s internship program. Your company hires and pays your intern(s). You can hire an intern out of your own pool of candidates or, alternatively, let us know and we will get you student resumes from individuals who have reached out to us.

This program is free – there is no charge for companies or interns. Now in Year 10, Startup Summer is one of CU Boulder Silicon Flatirons’ most popular programs.

Startup Summer pulls college-age students together on Tuesday nights from 5:30 – 7:30 pm during the summer. Startup Summer students and interns get to (1) meet leaders in the Front Range emerging company community, and (2) build their own startups on the side. More info is available at our website Startup Summer page.

If your company is interested in Startup Summer, please reach out directly to Sara Schnittgrund (Sara.Schnittgrund@Colorado.EDU) and Brad Bernthal (Brad.Bernthal@colorado.edu) at Silicon Flatirons by Thursday, June 3.

The post Colorado Startup Summer 2021 – Request for Companies appeared first on Feld Thoughts.

No TV Summer


This post is by Brad Feld from Feld Thoughts


“Turn off the TV and go outside and play.”

I expect these are words that have been said in almost every household in America.

Amy and I hit the bottom of the TV barrel last week while watching Army of the Dead. It was so awful it was good. But it was awful.

And … It’s June 1 and I’m done for the summer. No TV until Labor Day weekend. And then, maybe no TV after that.

TV is a weird construct since I can watch videos on my laptop or my iPad. But, that’s a different thing, since they are generally short and a deliberate thing that I’m watching on video, vs. just vegging out in front of the TV watching whatever we found on Netflix, Amazon, Apple TV, or whatever we eventually found surfing around on DirecTV (last night’s movie was Drive.)

While I was totally fried this weekend from the cumulative working and running I had done the preceding few weeks, I would have been better off napping or reading during the movie time. And, while I know there is a new wave of stuff coming out this summer, I’m going to assume that Army of the Dead sets the tone so I’ll wait until the fall in case anything good makes it through and then watch it then.

For now, I’m spending my TV time running, reading, writing, or just enjoying being outside with Amy and Cooper.

Welcome to summertime.

The post No TV (Read more...)

Shipped! The Entrepreneur’s Weekly Nietzsche


This post is by Brad Feld from Feld Thoughts


My newest book, The Entrepreneur’s Weekly Nietzsche: A Book for Disruptors, shipped today. It’s available on Amazon in Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover. If you are so inclined, go buy a copy today!

I’m particularly proud of this book, as it is a more philosophical approach to entrepreneurship than my other books. I wrote it with Dave Jilk, the co-founder of our first company (Feld Technologies, 1987) and one of my closest friends for 38 years.

The book contains 52 individual chapters (hence the “Weekly” in the title) and is divided into five major sections (Strategy, Culture, Free Spirits, Leadership, and Tactics). Each chapter begins with a quote from one of Nietzsche’s works, using a public domain translation, followed by our own adaptation of the quote to 21st-century English. Next is a brief essay applying the quote to entrepreneurship. About two-thirds of the chapters include a narrative by or about an entrepreneur we know (or know of), telling a concrete story from their personal experience as it applies to the quote, the essay, or both.

Our goal with this book is to make you think, rather than try to tell you the answers. For example, here’s the Nietzsche quote from a chapter titled “Obsession” from the section on “Free Spirits”.

“The passion which seizes the noble man is a peculiarity, without his knowing that it is so: the use of a rare and singular measuring-rod, almost a frenzy: the feeling of heat in things that feel cold to all (Read more...)