Bolster and the Next Executive Network


This post is by Valet from Feld Thoughts

Historically, almost everything I do uses a network model. Foundry Group runs as a network. If you take a look at the Foundry Group partner funds or talk to us about our investment strategy, you’ll immediately see the texture of a network. Techstars is a worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. All of my ideas around Startup Communities incorporate network theory. If you are involved in any organizations I’ve helped create, such as Energize Colorado, you’ll immediately recognize the network model underlying them.

For me, a network is very different than a social network such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Now that my entire life has shifted to a virtual one, I’ve been playing around with a lot of new network concepts and how they apply to work.

My long time friend Matt Blumberg just launched a new company today called Bolster. It’s a new way to scale your executive team and board. Fred Wilson, also a long time friend of Matt’s, has a great detailed post up today about it titled Bolster Your Management Team And Board that goes through Bolster in detail. A key section from Fred’s post is:

The Bolster team believes that scaling a high growth company means that you need to adapt, grow, and supplement your management team continuously along the way. And a big part of doing that is accessing “fractional talent” which means people that don’t work for your company full-time and permanently. All of this is outlined in the Bolster Founding Manifesto which explains why they started this company.

Sign up for Bolster if you:

While we are not direct investors in Bolster, we are indirect investors in three of Bolster’s investors: High Alpha, USV, and Costanoa. It’s a great example of our investment strategy around a network model.

I know the near term plans for Bolster and there’s an enormous amount of value coming quickly around executive and board hires, especially on the dimension of networks, inclusion, and diversity. I encourage you to give it a try and get involved at the beginning.

The post Bolster and the Next Executive Network appeared first on Feld Thoughts.

USV’s Climate Thesis

My partner Albert wrote a bit about how USV is investing in the climate/sustainability sector today.

The high-level summary is “not very differently than we have and are investing in other sectors”. At USV, we like certain businesss models, go to market approaches, and product types and that won’t change as we add climate/sustainability to our focus areas of wellness, knowledge, and capital.

Albert’s post mentions the two investments in climate/sustainability that we have made so far and they will look familiar to those who have followed USV’s investments to date.

Leap is an API for connecting smart devices to the energy markets. Kind of like Twilio, Stripe, etc for markets like demand response and more.

Wren is a community and funding platform for carbon sequestration and more, using offsets as the incentive for consumers. Kind of like Kickstarter, GoFundMe, etc for getting carbon out of our environment.

I am

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The Crucible Of Leadership

Yesterday evening, the Gotham Gal and I went to see Jerry Colonna do a reading from his recent book, Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up.

As we were standing around chatting waiting for Jerry to go on and start reading, Jerry mentioned that he once wrote a guest post for AVC. So I went back and read it this morning.

It is great and I am reposting it for all of you to read this morning.

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The Crucible of Leadership

Work is difficulty and drama, a high-stakes game in which our identity, our self-esteem, and our ability to provide are mixed inside us in volatile, sometimes explosive ways…Work is where we can make ourselves; work is where we can break ourselves. David WhyteCrossing The Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity.

Fred started this series inspired by Bijan who urged folks to 

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The AVC Daily Email

Most of you read AVC via email.

Today, all of you will see a refresh of the look and feel of the daily email to match the refresh we did to the website last week.

I want to thank Phil Hollows of Feedblitz who made this happen for all of us. And Kirk Love who created the new look and feel and helped a bit with the email work too.

A few stats: There are about 29,000 email subscribers to AVC. The daily open rate hovers around 40%. So roughly 12,000 people a day read AVC via email. That compares to an average day when about 6,000 people stop by the website and several thousand more who subscribe to and read the RSS feed on a daily basis.

I hope you all enjoy the new look and feel.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Nick Grossman — Jan 16, 2020
Leap

Albert

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Marketing

I used this title for possibly the most regrettable blog post I have written on AVC back in 2011.

My friend Alex’s post on the topic this weekend has made me revisit my thoughts on the subject of marketing.

Alex starts off his post with this assertion:

2019 was the year when VCs and startup founders soured on paid acquisition.

I am not sure if that is true, but if it is, it suggests a dramatic change in the startup playbook.

Back in 2011, I wrote:

He said “every company needs a marketing budget.” It seemed like a strong reply but in truth not one of our top performing companies had a marketing budget in their initial business plan.

That is certainly no longer true. The 2010s were a decade in which startups mastered marketing and channels like Facebook and Instagram emerged to satisfy their demand.

But what if

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Funding Friday: Make 100

Kickstarter kicks off the new year with a campaign called Make 100. The idea is to stimulate a lot of smaller projects where the creator makes 100 of something.

It’s a hodgepodge of creativity in the best sense of the word. Here are the current crop of Make 100 projects live on Kickstarter.

I just went and backed a bunch of them. It’s so much fun.

My favorite is this project where the creator, JJ Chuan, is going to make 100 city maps out of old cassette tapes. I just love that.


USV TEAM POSTS:

John Buttrick — Jan 7, 2020
Juro

Nick Grossman — Jan 6, 2020
Automated Personal Finance

Bethany Crystal — Jan 5, 2020
My 2020 Mantra: Lead with Compassion

Albert Wenger — Jan 1, 2020
An Agenda for the 2020s: Inventing the Knowledge Age

AVC 3.0

Welcome to the new AVC. This is the third “iteration” of this blog.

The first iteration (AVC 1.0) was the Typepad era during which I redesigned AVC a number of times using Typepad’s tools. That lasted from September 2003 to February 2014.

About six years ago, we moved AVC to WordPress and did a significant redesign (AVC 2.0) and very little has changed since then.

AVC 2.0 had a nice long run and served its purpose very well. 

But for most of the last year, I have wanted to make a number of changes to AVC:

1/ I wanted to move to a new host. I have been struggling to maintain the hosting infrastructure by myself and that has resulted in a number of outages, some only visible to me, some visible to all of you. 

2/ I wanted to get a professional developer team

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What Is Going On With AVC? (continued)

I have received a bunch of questions from AVC regulars about this temporary design and what is going on with AVC.

As I wrote in the first post in this series :), a couple of files in my WordPress configuration got deleted during the year-end holidays, messing up the look and feel of AVC pretty badly.

At the same time, I have been working with Kirk Love (a longtime friend) and a WordPress design firm called Storyware to design and build an entirely new AVC.

I am pleased to let all of you know that this shiny new AVC will launch tomorrow with a blog post from me talking about the new design and what we are trying to do with it.

Mass Transit In LA

This is the sixth winter we have spent in Los Angeles. One of the things I have had the hardest time getting used to about life in LA is all of the driving.

But starting last year, I found myself using the LA Metro system a bunch. The catalyst was going to Lakers and Clippers games at the Staples Center. I just could not stomach sitting for up to 90 minutes in traffic to attend a basketball game. Instead I would hop on the Expo line in Santa Monica and arrive at the Staples Center 35-40mins later. On the way home, I would grab a ride with a friend or Uber or some combination of both as traffic heading west at 10pm is almost non-existent.

But then I suggested to The Gotham Gal that we Metro it downtown for dinner and Uber it home. We did that once or twice.

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Turning It Off Vs Dialing It Down

Today is one of those days when everyone gets back to work after a time off. This holiday break was a particularly long one given that Christmas and New Years came in the middle of the week. So many of us are getting back to work after a particularly long break.

I am a huge believer in down time. I think everyone needs a break to step away from work and rest a bit. I also believe that time away from work clears the head and reveals things that are not always clear in the thick of things.

But I have struggled over the years between the choice of turning everything off vs dialing things down.

It is hard to get real rest and a clear head that comes with new insights if you don’t turn everything off and really disengage.

But coming back from time off when you truly

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What To Work On

My partner Brad likes to ask about the distinction between doing things right and doing the right thing. His observation, which I totally agree with, is that many people and companies do things right but don’t do the right thing. Taking the observation one step further, I have seen that doing the right thing the wrong way can actually result in something important and successful whereas doing the wrong thing the right way rarely does.

So that begs the question “what should I work on?”

First and foremost, I believe we should all work on projects that interest us, where we have insights that others don’t have, and that motivate and inspire us and others.

I also think that working on something that meets this first test is necessary but not sufficient.

Beyond that test, which is a must, I believe we should be working on something that can

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Funding Friday: Monster Preschool

I love the cross cultural/language/regional aspect of the Internet. We can find, experience, and support things all across the globe. Ultimately, it should bring us closer to each other.

This project, a children’s book about sharing, is exactly that and I backed it with a thousand yen just now.

Managing Multiple Twitter Handles

Like Mitt Romney and Kevin Durant, I manage multiple Twitter handles. Although neither is a secret handle.

I use @fredwilson for my personal tweets and I use @avc for this blog. I have done that since I joined Twitter in the spring of 2007.

The idea is to keep AVC blog discussions on @avc and leave @fredwilson for other things. That isn’t how it plays out however and on a day with a lot of discussion about AVC posts (like the last two days), I get reactions on both and engage actively on both.

Moving back and forth between Twitter handles on the Twitter mobile app is a breeze. You just add a second profile to the mobile app and you can switch back and forth in the profile view.

I have not found that to be as easy in a desktop browser and so I run two browsers, one

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What Will Happen In The 2020s

It’s 2020. Time to look forward to the decade that is upon us.

One of my favorite quotes, attributed to Bill Gates, is that people overestimate what will happen in a year and underestimate what will happen in a decade.

This is an important decade for mankind. It is a decade in which we will need to find answers to questions that hang over us like last night’s celebrations.

I am an optimist and believe in society’s ability to find the will to face our challenges and the intelligence to find solutions to them.

So, I am starting out 2020 in an optimistic mood and here are some predictions for the decade that we are now in.

1/ The looming climate crisis will be to this century what the two world wars were to the previous one. It will require countries and institutions to re-allocate capital from other endeavors to

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Do more startups die of indigestion or starvation?

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the grey space in between.

Today, we’re weighing a standard bit of startup wisdom that recently reemerged against some surprising, contrasting evidence. Does too much money hurt a startup more than it helps, or is that standard view actually mistaken? We’ll start with the traditional view, which was re-upped this month by venture capitalist Fred Wilson, along with some supporting arguments proffered by a Boston-based venture firm.

Afterwards, we’ll dig into a grip of contrasting data that should provide plenty to chew on over the holidays. Ready?

Fit to burst

Union Square Ventures‘ Fred Wilson wrote earlier in December (citing an excellent Crunchbase News piece by occasional TechCrunch contributor Jason D. Rowley) that he was curious if startups that raise huge ($100 million and greater) early-stage rounds do better or worse than

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The Company You Keep

I am as shocked as anyone to find Joi Ito, the head of the MIT Media Lab, swept up in the scandal around Jeffrey Epstein’s heinous and criminal web of exploitation. Ito met Epstein in 2013 — about five years after Epstein became a convicted sex offender — and apparently, despite his record and reputation, decided to do business with him. As the extent of this affiliation has become public, Ito has issued a statement. He has apologized to MIT and the world at large.

Frankly, it’s all a bit puzzling. My path has crossed with Ito over the years as part of the technology landscape. Knowing him, this news has been unsettling, to say the least, and certainly unexpected. How could Ito willfully ignore Epstein’s documented past (not to mention the allegations that swirled around him) and not only bring him into the MIT circle but have him invest in startups Ito was backing?

This clearly didn’t sit well with Ethan Zuckerman, the much-admired head of Center for Civic Media at MIT. He took to his blog to announce that he was leaving his position. Continue reading “The Company You Keep”

Building A Daily Habit Through Streaks

Insight Timer popped up this message after my daily morning meditation yesterday.

I’ve been meditating on and off for a while. But it’s been an on and off thing, not a daily habit.

In April, after some complex emotional dynamics (how’s that for a euphemism), I decided to start meditating daily. I missed a few days here and there and then in mid-May decided to cut the bullshit with myself and just do it first thing every morning when I woke up.

Last week, both Fred Wilson and Seth Godin blogged about the power of streaks and how they’ve both built daily blogging habits. Fred highlighted the same section of Seth’s post that I’m highlighting below, which is just pure gold.

Streaks are their own reward.
Streaks create internal pressure that keeps streaks going.
Streaks require commitment at first, but then the commitment turns into a practice, and the practice

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Reflections on Board Members By Some Great Ones

I spent the past few days in Tokyo at the Kauffman Fellows Annual Summit. Over the past five years, there has been a large increase globally in the number of venture capitalists and people interested in becoming VCs. As a result, an organization like Kauffman Fellows is more important than ever as it helps build an incredible community of the next generation of VCs to learn from each other.

In the mid-1990s, I learned how to be a board member by sitting on a lot of boards, learning from other experienced board members, and making a lot of mistakes. I still make a lot of mistakes (that’s that nature of venture capital, and of life in general), but I like to believe that I’m a much more effective board member than I was 25 years ago. That said, I still have my bad days and walk out of a board

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Category Collapse

It’s the second week of December, which is about the time that all of the predictions for 2019 start occurring. Last week’s announcements of the confidential S-1 filing of Lyft, Uber, and Slack helped prime the pump for some of these. By the way, did anyone other than me think it was a strange turn of events that companies are now announcing their confidential S-1 filing?

Fred Wilson’s post Thinking Ahead To 2019 is worth reading. Unlike the endless stream of predictions that are about to come out, it’s an analysis of the spread between the public market and private company valuations. Fred is not predicting anything in particular but makes several useful observations, including the following:

“And yet storm clouds are on the horizon for the capital markets in 2019. Rates have risen significantly in the last eighteen months, pulling capital out of the equity markets and into the

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Every Generation Learns The Same Lessons

While it’s easy to tell people things, it’s much more powerful to learn things. And, as I get older, I see the same lessons being learned by subsequent generations. While this isn’t a post that says “everything is the same as it was before”, there are foundational lessons in life that play out over and over again.

I spent the weekend with a friend from the last 1990s who was the lead banker on the Interliant IPO (I was a co-founder and co-chairman.) Last night, at the Aspen Entrepreneurs event, I was asked to describe several failures and I rolled out my story about Interliant, which, for a period of time (1999 – 2000) appeared to be hugely successful before going bankrupt in 2002. If you like to read IPO prospectuses, here’s the final S-1 filing after INIT went effective and started trading on July 8, 1999.

A few

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