When You Wake Up Feeling Old

Yesterday I posted about youth and inexperience. Today I am going to post about getting old. Because I am 47 today and getting close to the age where I have always thought venture capitalists start to fade.

I got into this business young, too young. And so as a young VC, often the youngest person in the room, I formed some opinions about age in the venture capital business.

The 20s are for getting some expertise. The 30s are for building a reputation. The 40s are where a VC peaks. The 50s are where you start managing the firm, handling relations with the investors, and the 60s are when you retire.

Like any generalizations, there are exceptions to this rule, most notably my partner Brad who hit his stride in his late 40s/early 50s. But like any generalizations, there is a lot of truth to it. VC is a young person’s game. It’s about being on the cutting edge of technology and trends.

I try super hard to stay up to speed on the lastest thing. It’s frankly an obsession for me and one of the reasons I blog every day. You all tell me about more stuff than any other source I’ve got. But I see my kids coming home these days knowing more about the latest indie band, iPhone app, and  cool blog. I can’t compete with their youth but I can pay attention to it, and I do. When they are gone from our home, I’ll lose that connection. And that’s not too far away, unfortunately.

We’ve got two great junior investment professionals in our office, Andrew and Eric. They share an office. When I walk into their office and chat for a while with them, I always walk out knowing something I didn’t know when I walked in. They understand how the web works at a level I’ll never understand.

Of course, with age comes experience and I’ve gotten a bit of that over the years. And I try to share it on this blog as much as I can. But experience is something you have to earn. I can tell stories until I am blue in the face, but unless you’ve had to shut down a company, write off $20mm, or shut down your venture firm, you just don’t know what those things are like and how to avoid them.

I honestly don’t relish the idea of being the VC who brings the experience piece to the equation. I like being on the cutting edge. So I am going to try even harder in the coming years to do that. And I will rely on this blog and all of you to keep me there.

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