Slow Capital

Last friday my partner Brad attended a company offsite for our portfolio company Meetup.com. On monday of this week during our regular weekly meeting, he gave our firm (all five of us) a report on the day which he said was excellent. One thing that stuck in my mind all week was his description of the lunch talk by one of the leaders of the "slow movement" (whose name escapes me now).

I'm familiar with the slow food movement and I would say that our family, led by the Gotham Gal, are active participants in it. I'm less familiar with the broader slow movement. This quote from Guttorm Fløistad via Wikipedia explains:

The only thing for certain is that everything changes. The rate of
change increases. If you want to hang on you better speed up. That is
the message of today. It could however be useful to remind everyone
that our basic needs never change. The need to be seen and appreciated!
It is the need to belong. The need for nearness and care, and for a
little love! This is given only through slowness in human relations. In
order to master changes, we have to recover slowness, reflection and
togetherness. There we will find real renewal.

There are now sub-movements like slow travel, slow parenting, slow art, slow sex, etc. All of them promote the idea that we should slow down, relax, and take our time at things instead of "getting it done and moving on".

I'm not much for any orthodoxy but I do appreciate the sentiment behind the slow movement and I've been thinking all week about what "slow capital" would be. And of course, I believe that Union Square Ventures practices slow capital. Here are some basic tenets of slow capital:

1) doesn't rush to conclusions and doesn't expect entrepreneurs to do so either

2) flows capital into a company based on the company's needs, not the investor's needs

3) starts small and grows with the company as it grows

4) has no set timetable for getting liquid: slow capital is patient capital

5) takes the time to understand the company and the people who make it up

I've spent almost twenty five years in the capital markets watching investors behave. Way too often it is a "wham bam" experience and then off to the next deal. Things like exploding offers, "fly by" board members, and shotgun marriages are so common that you sometimes wonder how anyone makes any money.

There's a reason why Warren Buffet is the best investor of his generation. He practices slow capital and I am proud to say that our firm does as well.