USV Goes To The Bay Area
I got up early, even for me, took a car to the airport, and boarded a flight to SFO to join my partners who have been in SF since yesterday. From the moment I land at SFO until the moment I get on a flight back to NYC early friday afternoon, I will be in meetings or dinners or sleeping.
Our firm makes a twice yearly trek to the bay area. Everyone other than our operations staff comes. We throw a big cocktail party and invite everyone who works at our bay area portfolio companies (if you work for a USV portfolio company in the bay area, I really encourage you to come), we meet privately with a few of our portfolio companies as a group, we meet with a bunch of companies we've been following but are not yet invested in, we have a private dinner for our bay area portfolio CEOs/Senior Teams, and we schedule a bunch of board meetings during this week as well.
We've been doing this for a few years now. It's a good practice and I am glad we do it. We have made 18 investments in the bay area and 15 of them are still active. All but one of our bay area portfolio companies are shown here. That's roughly a third of our portfolio and it represents an important cohort for us. We are not inclined to open a second office anywhere so we need to find ways to get closer to the companies outside of NYC, which is the majority of our portfolio (26 out of our 48 active portfolio companies are outside of NYC).
The VC business tends to collapse the engagement between a venture firm and its portfolio companies to a single relationship, usually the partner who sits on the board of the portfolio company. That is not ideal and Brad and I committed to each other to change that in our firm back when we started USV. We have sat on boards together. We have swapped boards a few times. We build real relationships between the other partners and the leadership teams. We have invested in the USV Network which brings all of our portfolio companies together to help each other. And we bring the entire partnership to the bay area twice a year.
These things matter a lot. It's easy to slip into freelance mode where each partner manages a portfolio of companies and there isn't much interaction between these mini portfolios. I have seen that at many VC firms over the years and it isn't the best way to add value.
We haven't perfected anything and all of this is a work in progress that will never end. But getting out of the office as a partnership and engaging with a bunch of our portfolio companies is a great way to spend a couple weeks a year. And that's what we will be doing this week in San Francisco.