Self Awareness

I am proud to say that I’ve said at least half of these sayings at one time or another and I don’t do email on my blackberry during board meetings.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Matt Blumberg

    Look forward to discussing Page 10 at a future comp committee meeting

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, that’s one i’ve not yet said 🙂

  2. William Mougayar

    Priceless. How about ALOOFNESS, “I’m not really aloof, but have to act that way in order to test you out.”

  3. Farhan Lalji

    Would be interested in hearing the stories behind the half that you’ve said.

  4. Eray

    You don’t do email on your blackberry – but what about your iphone?;)

  5. Carl Rahn Griffith

    … if only it were (some of) the VC community that this applied to … 😉

  6. elginthompson

    I’d love to see a series of webisodes on the VC-entrepreneur/start up relationship … something with the wit of the Office, but with the brashness of Funny or Die.

    1. fredwilson

      Wallstrip for the startup world??

      1. elginthompson

        Bingo. Not even for the humor (which could be hilarious), but it could be instructive as well. Given the shift in sentiment towards more entrepreneurial ventures by folks displaced from Wall Street, Big Media, etc., it could be a teaching tool for folks as well.

        1. howard lindzon

          just too hard and we got lucky at wallstrip :)but could be done. don’t know why though 🙂

      2. fnazeeri

        The pilot for the show could be the 2006 holiday video by Blueprint Ventures. I laugh every time I see it.

        1. fredwilson

          Yes. That’s a good one

  7. Aurelia Masterson

    The one about Competence reminds me of another one I have seen recently called “Consulting”–that said something along the lines of, Since I’m not part of your solution, there’s good money to be made in prolonging the problem.

  8. PhilipJames

    Fred – the Attentiveness slide just says not using blackberries during “meetings”, did you define the sub category “board meetings” deliberately?

    1. fredwilson

      I make it a point not to use a blackberry during any meeting (other than to check the time – I don’t wear a watch)But board meetings are particularly important in my mind and are blackberries are abused by many VCs during them

      1. GraemeHein

        Michael Wolff has a great comment on this…If you’re boring someone they’ll pull out their smart phone. Harsh, and probably applies only above a certain age – youngsters are rather addicted and are far too used to having multiple conversations at the same time.

  9. JLM

    Pretty damn……………………………………………….funny! And, unfortunately, very, very, very true! The conduct of folks with a bit of power in any given situation is a very interesting phenomenon. Of course, really powerful people never have to actually use their power as everybody sees them coming. I wonder how many members of management would cross the country to attend the funeral of one of their venture backers?

    1. Guest

      I see a lot of VC hatin’ these days and am beginning to wonder how much of it is just frustration with the power balance, with power being on the side of cash even more and more these days.The problem with this slide-deck is the generalization: “a”, “never”, etc. It’s getting hard to single out the real scumbag VCs, for public ridicule, with such generalizations floating around. It’s a concern…

      1. JLM

        CASH, which used to be just KING, is now THE EMPEROR! Even those for whom the current situation has not raised a bruise are still becoming more and more personally conservative. We are living in fearful times. Funny thing is that a bit of downsizing, reassessing, reprioritizing and focusing on breakfast tacos is just plain good for the soul.I am at the lowest ebb of economic optimism that I have ever been in my life personally. I am convinced that the Obama administration has got it all so wrong that they are really the competition rather than the real competition.I feel like the French Resistance against the Vichy and Nazi governments.It also makes me think this is a time of great, great opportunity. I am on the hunt.

        1. fredwilson

          I am feeling very good about Obama right now to be honest. He’s making great progress on autos and banks

          1. JLM

            If the banks and autos are your barometer, I can only say that I am very, very surprised that you would be optimistic. Perhaps we are looking at different data.I predict we will look back on the entire auto industry debacle (bailouts, UAW, CAFE standards, executive comp, car czar, auto committee, etc) from some future vantage point and see that we absolutely failed to respect the realities of consumer behavior, the disciplines of the marketplace, the burdens of regulation, the complexity of the industry, the fickleness of consumer behavior and the creative destruction of capitalism.The terms of the GM recap are just awful w/ the government admitting to writing off almost $20B right out of the chute and ending up w/ the lion’s share of the “real” equity (perfectly fair given the numbers mind you) plus an implicit obligation (real, imagined or politically expedient) to fund the future successful or otherwise.We now have a regulator (the US Gov’t) determining the product mix of a company it both owns and regulates — Obama Motors — to be run by a guy who has absolutely no experience (though he is a hell of a telecom guy and a very, very, very good man). All of this in partnership w/ the UAW who is at least complicit in wrecking the train.Oh, yeah, the regulator has also just increased the CAFE standards in such a manner that the product mix of GM is disproportionately negatively impacted when compared to its rivals. I would normally describe this phenomenon as shooting oneself in the “foot” but it feels more like a “knee capping”.And BTW, the auto industry is pretty damn frothy even if it was well capitalized and predictable. The consumer is not buying expensive products as a general proposition.Would you invest in that deal? LOLI see amateur hour at its worst.If we wanted to have a great American car company, we should have used that money to buy stock in Toyota.Of course, I could be wrong and just overreacting as I do that sometimes.

          2. fredwilson

            I think we are looking at the same facts through different pairs of glasses

          3. fredwilson

            I think we are looking at the same facts through different pairs of glasses

          4. Guest

            I think domestically he is not out of the woods yet. HOWEVER, you have to be impressed with what is happening in the Muslim world. Hezbollah losses in Lebanon, Ahmadinejad is barely hanging on in Iran…Isn’t it funny how this liberal democracy concept looks a lot more attractive when it is not forced on you at gunpoint by a bunch of crazed out Christian fundamentalists?

      2. fredwilson

        VC hatin’ is something that’s been around for as long as I’ve been in the business. And I think the power has shifted to the entrepreneur, certainly in web services where cap requirements aren’t that high

    2. fredwilson

      Great question JLM

      1. JLM

        It would be very interesting if a group of VCs or your group would undertake a “blind” focus group and get an independent view of your reputation and perception in the marketplace. I am a huge fan of focus groups and blind surveys.

  10. ShanaC

    I’m not sure to laugh or to be horrified. Especially about page 9, but there are some other pages I see as well.If you are a student and you see this: I go to class with you- Turn off the damn computer if you are not taking notes! You are distracting me! You are being rude. Stop it!*I’m thinking about sending this along to more undergrads and Business and Law students. I think we all need a good kick in the ass about our behavior.Something I realized recently: I am not a deserving person. I will have to work hard, to get anywhere. If anything, I will have to work harder than most. Many people know more than me. Many people have knowledge bases that I don’t. I should therefore shut up and listen. That doesn’t mean I should not contribute to the discussion, but-I’m bound to be more involved if I have a little patience and gratitude to my elders. They know some things I don’t.And elders here mean people who know something that I don’t…* Full disclosure: I admit to learning about what is rude the hard way. So I sympathize. But You are still rude.

  11. aarondelcohen

    I would like to contribute a webisode concept to the series:Team starts the morning at the top of Sand Hill Road with a bizplan to sell virtual gravestones. As they pitch and travel down sandhill road they get more and more advice and insight such that by the time they finish in the afternoon they have now transformed into a social network about death. During the webisode you see the entreprneurs changing their slides in the car, arguing about who will do what in the parking lot, and frantically fishing around for the schedule so they don’t show up to benchmark when they should be at Sequoia…

    1. fredwilson

      You left the part out about semantic analysis of gravestone content. Surely some wise VC would make sure they added that to the plan!

  12. Morgan Warstler

    My webisode would be dark comedy about a VC firm that requires key man insurance on the management and then kills them off in obscure random ways if the company runs out of runway.

    1. JLM

      You are probably too young to know about the SeaFirst Bank episode in which a young loan officer who had a high rise office building developer client whose loan went into default pushed him off the building’s top floor to collect the key man life so his loan could be repaid. True story!He lured him to lunch and then showed him the rooftop.Moral of the story — never go onto a rooftop w/ your loan officer if your loan is in default and you have a big key man life policy!Life is stranger than …………… life.

      1. Morgan Warstler

        it certainly is…. (heads off to google).

      2. fredwilson

        was the loan officer convicted of murder?

        1. JLM

          I think in those days, killing a “developer” was only a misdemeanor.

    2. fredwilson

      A peer produced comedy show about VCs. I love it

  13. Kevin

    my personal vc moments:1) not to worry about the Blackberry. A vc brought in his laptop and was sending IM’s during the entire meeting. I’ll never forget that. As a matter of fact he looked up at me and I was laughing, then proceeded to go back to his IM’s.2) another vc said to us “hey, kids stop selling to us”. Later we figured out that he was previously fired as a vp sales. No wonder he didn’t like the pitch.

    1. fredwilson

      Fuckers. I hope they are gone from the business.

  14. bach

    Using the blackberry during the company meetings is becomming a second nature for most of the people I work with.It got to a point where you have to accept this fact. it is a bad company culture.

    1. ShanaC

      Judith Martin on social Crackberry Usage. You have been warned…

    2. fredwilson

      The CEO should ban it and there should be a cost for doing it

      1. ShanaC

        I’m not so sure that would work. I jones for computer the way i jones for coffee some days.Yet I pulla fully 25+ every week (sometimes more during holidays) becuase I am shmirat shabbt.I happen to really love shabbat. Really love it. Enough to be very excited for making more shabbat dinners on my own, and shabbat lunches, and to have already near perfected a challah recipe.This is what keeps me away from a computer, and a cellphone, and flipping on and off lights. (among other things.)A positive behavior, a reward, to avoid using the crackberry would work better than a negative one, a punishment.

    3. JLM

      Says something about the meetings also. I hate meetings and therefore I always make folks have a written agenda, identify the decisions that must be made (particularly by me) and provide an estimate of the time necessary for the meeting. I make everybody turn off all phones. Meetings are shorter that way because there is a focus on what really needs to be decided.

    4. Innocient-looking

      Faraday Cage!

  15. Peter Johnson

    Another quick one: Knowing is not the same as speaking.

  16. Sand Hill Slave

    Something more than a few VCs think:Compromise: Let’s agree to respect each other’s views, no matter how wrong yours may be.:-)Sand Hill

    1. fredwilson

      that gave me a chucklethanks

  17. Innocient-looking

    Re: Blackberry usage.For my company, I am seriously thinking about solving the problem with a Faraday cage. 😉

  18. brucecahan

    Fred: I’m watching this in Menlo Park, after spending the week in Tahoe, and laughing all the way up Sand Hill Road!Thanks for saying the sayings that mean a VC loves their portfolio company and its management, dearly.All the best,Bruce