Bits Interview

One of my favorite bloggers is Nick Bilton who blogs about tech for the NY Times. He covers the basics, like Twitter's purchase of Smallthought last week, but also blogs about cool stuff you might not know about like this story about an MIT Fellow who is using kites and balloons to record the impact of the spill.

So when Nick asked me a few weeks ago if I would sit down with him and do an interview, I said yes. I don't really like being profiled much. I would prefer people write about the entrepreneurs we back and the companies they build. That's where the interesting stories are.

Nick's a good reporter and he got me to talk about being broke right before hitting it big with Geocities in the late 90s, falling in love in college and following the Gotham Gal to NYC, and why my refusal to carry an iPhone is a "political statement."

The interview is up at the New York Times. Check it out and let me know what you think.

PS – I really dig that the Times decorated the post with a CC licensed photo taken by our friend Joi Ito in the back booth at Tarallucci last year.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Julien

    Interesting bit on chatroulette. I feel that you were disappointed by the vision of the founder. Which makes me think you expected something more specific. What was it?

    1. fredwilson

      a plan

      1. Tereza

        LOL

      2. JLM

        Pretty damn ………………………………………………………………………………………..funny!

  2. iPad Maniac

    This was featured in the iPad NY Times Editors Choice app too. Great read.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s where i read it

  3. kidmercury

    i’m glad to hear you were a broke ass fool when you were in your 30s, makes me feel better about myself. although not that one should compare, thats always foolish in my opinion. now i feel dumb for comparing. damn.

    1. fredwilson

      Broke yes, fool no ๐Ÿ˜‰

    2. NI

      It’s also interesting to hear how you went from being broke to an internet millionaire during that short period. I’m sure it took some getting used to, but what’s more interesting to me is your experience was closer to that of winning the lottery than the earn & save method most people, even in finance, are accustomed to. Great interview overall.

      1. fredwilson

        We did save. We saved up enough money to buy a house in northern westchester and we moved out of the city for four years. We struggled to make the mortgage payments though as the gotham gal quit working (she was the primary breadwinner) and I waited for my first carry payment. It took over ten years in the vc business for me to get it

        1. Tereza

          The dirty secret about Northern Westchester and pretty much every other place outside Manhattan…..is that they’re cheaperER. But they sure as hell are not cheap.

        2. Elie Seidman

          You are the classic ten year overnight success story. There seem to be a lot more of them than the actual overnight success. Congratulations on all of your success.

          1. WA

            Time metaphors: the overnight success, he world was created in 6 days and on the 7th…, AARP is such a long way off. Time: The portfolio of experience…

        3. Fred T

          This is what I really admired the most. Both of you and your wife went through the storm *together before the big break happened. Acknowledging that you had to put food on the table (for your kids), you still never gave up after all these years of being in the industry since the mid 80’s – others would have probably transferred to Wall Street or some rewarding position with that MBA (plus MIT Engineering background) of yours. As funny as I can tell, I hear a lot of stories of most folks who were almost at the verge of insanity before getting their big break. Creditors calling, living in their car for weeks/months, homeless and using miles to stay in hotels with 2 weeks of money left… no matter how hard it became, they still made it through because they saw something wherein others would have given up and taken the easier route.The road less traveled – Robert Frost

          1. Tereza

            It bears saying: props to Gotham Gal for busting her hump to support the family too. I met her and she sees the big picture like few others and grass does not grow under her feet. Talk about hustle and conviction.

          2. Fred T

            Definitely. If your wife supports you, then you are well on your way. Spouses are one of your lovely trade secrets to success.

          3. Tereza

            Totally.Wish I had one! ๐Ÿ˜‰

          4. Fred T

            Make that two. =)

          5. Ro Gupta

            Get a [chat] room, you two. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          6. Adrian Palacios

            and presto, you’ve just found the plan for chatroulette! ๐Ÿ˜‰

          7. Tereza

            Uhhh….is it OK if my husband comes, too?

          8. Fred T

            It’ll definitely be a brainstorm of great ideas between couples. In the end, Tereza and I will respectively convince them that Fred W’s teamwork on his life story played out well.

          9. Matt A. Myers

            Fred, you need an AVC Friend Finder section apparently.. It’ll fit well between MBA Mondays and Archives.

          10. fredwilson

            it’s a team efforttoo many people don’t understand that about us

        4. Mark Essel

          You’ve talked about it before, but how do carry payments work. You negotiate a percent of the return and get paid after a sale, about how long after?Being a VC sounds like buying empty lots and helping build a great house to sell. And you get paid like real estate agents that sky rocket with a big sale or flat line without it.

          1. Tereza

            Actually a VCs are a little more like real estate developers…or the people who finance them. The carry is a chunk of the upside, if there is one.The broker-dealers are like RE agents.

          2. fredwilson

            i will write a post about it mark. it’s not that complicated but more than a comment can do justice to.basically it is a share of the profits, but after our investors get their money back

          3. Mark Essel

            I think you mentioned it last year in a post about how VCs should be compensated, I’ll start there.ps: Finally caught the first half of a slideshow/interview of Chris, Mark, and Naval and have picked up some great tips on signaling. I found the embed on Matt Mireles’ blog for those that might not have seen it.

          4. Mark Essel

            Here’s the link to Matt’s post about Venturehacks and where I found the interview: http://www.metamorphblog.co

    3. Tereza

      yeah makes me feel like there’s hope for me yet, too.keepin’ the flame of hope alive!!

  4. Debbie Stier

    Favorite line: you are a free speech bigot.

    1. fredwilson

      my son josh graduated from middle school today and they all had to create a flag with a quote to leave behind. his was from doctor seuss and it was about free speechโ€œBe who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.โ€

      1. ShanaC

        Congratulations Josh!

      2. Debbie Stier

        I’m going to have to borrow that. My middle school daughter needs to be reminded of that nearly every day.

  5. Mark Essel

    Nevermind the money, you made the right move following Gotham Gal.Whatya think about for your future? More VC, politics, altruism, a Pizza place?

    1. fredwilson

      more VC: yespolitics: not likelyaltruism: absolutelypizza place: not, but a bistro would be lovely

      1. paramendra

        This guy is going to stick around like Ron Conway: forever.

  6. Tereza

    Will read in a little bit. More important things….GO GO SLOVENSKO!!!(it bears saying that the paucity of vowels in Slovakia’s lineup makes my kvell)

    1. maverickny

      Go Go Slovensko, indeed! They were one of my dark horses for the tournament… might cause an upset or two if they get their A game on ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Tereza

        Slovaks can be pretty crazy mo fo’s so ya never know!I noticed, Maverick, that you launched Gleevec. How interesting! I was tracking it a few years back when my mom was sick….this was during testing. Alas it wasn’t the thing for her but it was very cool stuff.

  7. awaldstein

    Hi Fred.Nice piece…didn’t realize that Geocities was your racehorse.And glad that you touched on this blog…which beyond wealth created and technologies funded, is an annuity for the community that really impacts and adds to my day.I don’t know whether you’ve ever charted avc.com’s bell weather thresholds and your sense off when you stopped pushing posts out and community magic really started. Might be an interesting discussion.

    1. Tereza

      Also is there a daily metric/bell that goes off when you know the comments are really en fuego. E.g. 100 comments by noon, a certain # of Likes, etc.An AVC sizzle meter!

    2. Tereza

      Oh another metric — how many new commenters came out of the shadows because you either pissed them off or tugged at their heartstrings. That’s interesting to note.We regular commenters are comment sluts. But for someone to be compelled to post a first time….that’s a big deal and it says something.

      1. awaldstein

        Absolutely…

      2. paramendra

        Comment “sluts” are what make for this community. Repeat comments are great. I like people replying to each other. There are about five people who leave five comments each to every post. That is great.

      3. Adrian Palacios

        Google Analytics has custom alerts you can create. If comments are set up as a goal conversion, you can set up comment-related alerts that will be emailed to you.

    3. fredwilson

      i have a gift to this community tee’d up for later this week

      1. awaldstein

        Great…everyone likes a gift!

      2. kidmercury

        building suspense….well played boss

      3. ShanaC

        random comment: tentiavely nyc is meeting up again at DBA, this sunday, at 8. I’m waiting to hear back confirmation that we can stick 25 people in their back terrace, however, if you want to join, feel free. (I’m organizing because I have the nametags)

        1. paramendra

          What? Is this the AVC MeetUp again? We just had one.

          1. ShanaC

            So?

          2. paramendra

            I was just trying to make sure it was not something else. I’m sure a lot of people would appreciate the opportunity. Sunday afternoon is not the best time for everyone.

          3. ShanaC

            I moved it by a week. A lovely reader named Amin Torres mentioned that thissunday is Father’s day.

        2. Mark Essel

          Sounds like a fun meetup, how does one join in (Sunday nights are tough since I’m 1.5-2hours away and wake at 5am for my work day but I’m sure I can make it for one).

          1. ShanaC

            click on the map and sign up. Other cities are also doing repeats. If youhaven’t had one- organize it. Just find a coffee shop. Or brew someyourself.

          2. Mark Essel

            The appeal of the meetup for me is to meet friends from this comment section. Not many Port Jeff Station AVC fans.It’s worth hoofing it.

          3. ShanaC

            I might be changing the date, it’s father’s day.

          4. Mark Essel

            I’ll be family BBQ’ing that day, perhaps for my pop and Michelle’s pop or a convergence.

      4. paramendra

        A history of this blog would be nice.

  8. maverickny

    Great story, Fred.Reminds me that we should never give up on what we’re doing as you never know how close you might be to the big deal.

  9. Shafqat

    As a entrepreneur, the part about being broke really resonated (especially since I am married as well).Sometimes I look back and think of all the close calls we had at our startup: where we almost couldn’t meet payroll or didnt think we’d have enough money to last till the winter etc. But you just have to keep hustling and closing deals. I always knew we’d be eventually be okay. Even though we haven’t yet had a “Geocities”-scale deal (once in a lifetime?), we’ve definately put the dark days behind us! It’s good to see a VC who has gone through the same ups and downs as the entrepreneur across the table. Respect.

    1. paramendra

      Geocities is not the biggest thing Fred has done. It is Twitter. Wait until the Twitter IPO, and we will be asking for his autograph in these comments sections.

      1. fredwilson

        zynga is already a bigger deal than geocities

        1. paramendra

          Zynga might be your number one. Twitter number two. FourSquare is number three only because it is not the first or second child, otherwise that crew is also very promising.

  10. Jeff

    Great interview, and I took heart from the part about where you were at before Geocities sale… You must have had some interesting conversations with the wife, as I have done.

  11. Tereza

    We have more in common than I realized.Totally moved out here bc couldn’t afford raising kids in the city.My gift to my husband if we ever hit pay dirt is to move back into the city. He says: “Get all this nature off of me!!!”

    1. CJ

      I HATE nature.

      1. paramendra

        I love the city, and I could not take it if it did not have its parks.

        1. CJ

          I love parks, but I don’t consider that nature. Nature is when you hear noises outside your window at night and the noises aren’t made by people or anything people created.

          1. Tereza

            The fawn born on our lawn last week…that was nature.

          2. paramendra

            In the city the only stars you see are the man made ones.

    2. paramendra

      “….raising kids in the city…..”I have thought more about this topic than you would believe I have. I wish you wrote four paragraphs on that topic. How do you raise children in the city? Aren’t they supposed to be able to run around? On the other hand, you make it sound like you moved out of the city because raising kids in the city was too expensive. And I thought people move out after they make their money. If you do have to raise kids in the city, which part of town would be the best part?”Get all this nature off of me!!!”LMAO.

      1. Tereza

        Children need nourishment, nurturing, love and stimulation. Those are the only “supposed to’s” and they can get them in the city or the country.They only know what you expose them to. So if you have a vision of how children ‘should’ be raised, then that’s your vision. But it’s not theirs.Many parents in NYC hit a wall either as the oldest is getting toward preschool, or again in Kindergarten. Because the application process is a bitch and private school in perpetuity is an incredibly large annual nut.Others make the switch when Child #2 comes along, because that 1- or 2-bedroom that was a little tight with a baby is much tougher with a family of four, and a 3 BR is more expensive exponentially, not linearly.We moved here for great public schools and so that I could have my mom as backup childcare, as I wanted to do a career switch out of consulting.It didn’t quite work out as planned but the decision itself was a sound one.

        1. paramendra

          I am sure it was.

      2. fredwilson

        raising kids in the city is greatyou can see some photos of us doing that yestereday on fredwilson.vcthey grow up fast, but they become interesting people

        1. paramendra

          I keep falling off the tumblr grid. I need to add it to my Gmail, Twitter, Facebook routine. Maybe I should follow fewer people.I love the city. So I am sure raising kids in the city has to be great. But where do they do their running around? Do you schedule visits to the park?Some great shots.

  12. Keenan

    Loved the one-liners, especially the one about a gun to their heads. It gave me 2 great Tumblr quotes!

    1. fredwilson

      the gun to their heads line is one i’d take back if i could

      1. Mark Essel

        How would you rephrase that one, “applied pressure”Never realized how important phrasing things was until I blogged regularly for a year.

        1. Tereza

          JLM put it nicely the other day.He said, “My boot would be so far up his ass he could taste the leather.”Yum!Maybe that’s what Fred meant?

          1. JLM

            Very, very uncouth. I apologize. However, much less painfully descriptive than a West Texas rusty barbed wire enema, no?

          2. Tereza

            I’m on the fence. Before picking a winner I can’t go without mentioning a female boss from years ago who’d threaten circumcision via rusty left-handed Kindergarten scissors.Tough call!

      2. paramendra

        I don’t see why you would. You don’t put the gun to the head as a VC, you get close,but the market puts the gun to the head and shoots all the time.

  13. kagilandam

    “One of the great things about young entrepreneurs is that they donโ€™t know that something canโ€™t be done. So they try something thatโ€™s so audacious and usually end up pulling it off” … Very true. 95% of noble prize belong to young guys (below 30) or what they discovered at that age.

    1. Tereza

      Hmmm. Let’s break this down.The young, bright tech entrepreneur. That’s a fun archetype. I used to be one of those!<sigh>. Such a romantic, swashbuckling vision.Thing is, Nobel prizes and startups do not exactly correlate. Entrepreneurs do get better as they go. And history is replete with stories of “overnight” successes that were decades in the making.But the overnight success sure makes a damn good story.We need much more innovation in NY and in this country. One precondition to opening that flow is opening our minds to alternative entrepreneur archetypes. USV in fact has a rather diverse set of entrepreneurs in its portfolio. That includes one badass who’s — what — around 70?Does USV have any Nobel Prize winners? Does it matter? Do they award Nobel prizes for checking into bars, watching TV differently or selling crafts? Probably not, but it’s still changing our lives and creating outsized value.What’s the preferred path for an entrepreneur after that first startup. I suppose we’re meant to buy a BarcaLounger and sip mojitos for the next four decades.

      1. fredwilson

        entrepreneurs get better leaders, managers, money raisers, recruiters, operators, etc as they get olderthey do not necessarily become better risk takerswe are really comfortable putting $3mm into the hands of an experienced entrepreneur in our first roundwe are really comfortable putting $500k into the hands of an inexperienced one in our first roundwe are making a lot of money with both types. we love both types. they are different animals

        1. Tereza

          It’s amazing to me the number of parallels to horse racing.Wish I knew more about horse racing.I do know, though, what I’d name my horse if I got one:Spring Chicken

          1. Mark Essel

            I’d go with glue or jello.Horses scare the hell outta me when I’m walking on a trail and staring down at my phone engrossed in a post or new tech doc.There’s so much power in their bodies it’s shocking when they snort right next to my head to catch my attention.

          2. JLM

            As a former “hot horse walker” I can tell you there is nothing more dangerous than a thoroughbred who has just been given his head to run as fast as he can at 6:00 AM and to be trailing that monster by a rein to cool him down. That horse still wants to run.I have been bitten more than a few times. It really hurts.Hell, yes, that is a great analogy.

      2. Mark Essel

        JLM isn’t 70, is he?Maybe 50s-60

        1. Tereza

          Nope that wasn’t JLM. I think you’re roughly right about JLM’s age but he’s not a USV portfolio CEO.This gentleman was mentioned by Fred once when I asked him if there’s a Johnny Cash of entrepreneurs.

          1. Mark Essel

            oh, my bad misread didn’t know you meant current funded founders.Just read badass and assumed JLM

          2. Tereza

            JLM indeed is a badass.

        2. paramendra

          JLM has a startup? That is part of the USV portfolio? Which one?

          1. Mark Essel

            My bad misread Tereza’s comment he’s not.JLM would be an interesting guy to work with

        3. JLM

          I am 18 emotionally. Maybe 26, as that was a very, very, very good year. I had seen the elephant, had wrestled mortality (came out 3 out of 4 on points and pins) and had enough youth to do anything and the beginning of enough skepticism not to fall for just about everything.I am 27 energetically and life force field. And, yes, I do drive a ’66 fire engine red Impala convertible which makes one feel 27.I am 46 intellectually. Old enough to know better.I am 74 from the perspective of scars, life experience and failure. Having been ridden hard and put up wet more than a few times. I have already had 3.5 careers and am looking forward to the next 3.5.I am 3 from the vantage point of believing in the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and karma, ju ju, mo jo and lagniappe. I am gullible beyond belief and I trust people instinctively because I love people.I am 163 from the perspective of luck received and kindnesses unpaid. I am trying to catch up as fast as I can.I am 59 chronologically and I intend to be eating from somebody else’s chili bowl for at least the next 59 years also. I am at the end of the day two twenty somethings.And, yes, as Pat Green and Willie would say — I feed the wild streak in my heart.

          1. Tereza

            One of those 3.5 future careers should be a PDCW: Professional Disqus Comment Writer.

          2. Mark Essel

            Besides chronologically (36) we’re close in age.I’m a little more gullible, and less scarred. My relative age feels like it varies day to day, and throughout the day – Baron Munchausen comes to mind.I chase after the euphoric feelings of youth and freedom experienced while away from my dayjob. My simulated enthusiasm, energy drink concoctions while stuck at my engineering desk. An adrenaline junky stuck with a lifestyle of mental servitude. But I’ll break out of this self made gilded cage, there’s a glimmer of light. If only I build the right wedge to chip it open.

          3. ShanaC

            are you native to the gulf- I had to look up lagniappe, apparently it is some sort of small gift given at time of purchase. The word itself though is a word primarily from the Louisiana area, and then spreads though out the Gulf…First time I’ve heard of it.

          4. JLM

            Well, I guess nobody is going to be “native” to the Gulf ever again unfortunately given the current mess. Do you know that private planes cannot even fly over this area anymore?Lagniappe is, as you have so rightly smoked out, a colloquialism unique to the Louisiana coast — a dark and mysterious place where the spiritual side of many cultures of the world collide — which originally meant the proverbial “baker’s dozen” 13th donut but has morphed to become any underserved and pleasant prize, blessing, benefit or gift given without warning.Lagniappe is never expected and is by its very nature underserved making it something that blesses both the recipient and the grantor. It carries a sense of mystery as to why one has received such a blessing and a prudent person passes it along as quickly as possible after receiving such a lagniappe.One does not speak of nor delve into lagniappe for fear of upsetting the delicate balance which has brought this blessing to you and similarly does not speak of how they will repay or pass it along. When it happens, one simply whispers “lagniappe” in a reverent tone and that ‘splains everything that is going to get ‘splained.Lagniappe is part of the Louisiana cajun and creole culture and one does not try to understand it, one simply flows with it. To do otherwise risks the voodoo curse and you really can’t know about that, cher.

          5. ShanaC

            I guess right now I am trying to find my Lagniappe then JLM. Though that issome definition.And yes, I think by now everyone has been hearing about the planes. Youcould make serious money if the gov’t/BP allowed private charter-journalists are seriously aiming for the Pulitzer shot of the year.

          6. JLM

            Shhh, you do not seek out the lagniappe, it finds you and that is the mysterious part of the blessing. Right now your lagniappe is circling waiting for the right moment to surprise you with its wondrous bounty. Let the magic build. Shhhhh.

      3. kagilandam

        I was just trying support the statement with data. Yes I agree … in business and politics you get better and better with age because they not only need fresh ideas but also dirty tricks … a lot of them ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. Tereza

          Right back atcha with a big olive branch, Agilandam.I’m just cranky and jealous.And have lots of dirty tricks up my sleeve!

    2. Fernando Gutierrez

      I read something about that a while ago. I barely remember, but I think it was Einstein who said that those discoveries in the early years were more related to marital status. He said that when we are single we do riskier things to impress the other sex. Once we settle we are supposed to be more conservative and less prone to hit it big.On the other hand, the desire give the best to your family can be very powerful. I guess it’s not that simple.

  14. Dan Ramsden

    One of the most interesting parts of the interview was about this blog. It was unfortunately brief, but this blog could be the subject of a whole interview on its own.

  15. kirklove

    Nicely done. For me the thing that stands out is how clearly you and the Gotham Gal are a team and together were able to get through anything. Perhaps I’m a romantic idealist, but that’s infinitely more valuable than any windfall.

    1. fredwilson

      yupit’s hard work, harder than VC

      1. paramendra

        “….hard work, harder than VC….”They say to be happy in life you need two things: love and work. Perhaps in that order.Can you talk about it though, like you can talk about your work, and you do daily? Or are you like Warren Buffett who got tongue tied on TV. “It is not that I don’t want to, it is that I can’t.”

        1. fredwilson

          we do talk about itif you read AVC and Gotham Gal, you get a sense of our partnership

          1. paramendra

            I should visit The Gotham Gal blog more often. I have loved it every time I have visited. And it is less “crowded.” ๐Ÿ™‚

        2. JLM

          There is something odd — deeply odd — about how people answer the question — What do you do?Men often describe themselves as defined by their work — I am a carpenter; or, I am a VC; or, I am a “whatever”.Upon reflection I find that odd because I don’t think we really are our “work”. We only work to be what we want to be or become once we have met our basic needs.A carpenter might really be a philosopher king who makes his LIVING by skillfully butchering wood to the demands of a client who then pays him money for deploying his hard earned skills.Ahh, then with this money, the man who would otherwise be a carpenter to the rest of the world becomes the philosopher king he truly is.Lucky the man whose vocation and avocation are the same thing.

          1. Tereza

            Gotham Gal has been doing thinking and exploration on exactly this question, and has blogged about it. I’ll look for the link.These “what do you do” labels are really confounding to women. We weave in and out of multiple roles, both at once as well as over time.JLM I greatly appreciate your acknowledgement of our human reflex to label. Labels can be really helpful but one-dimensional or even misleading.Last week at a Women’s conference on entrepreneurship during a discussion on women raising VC, people were saying how we need to push more women VCs.I said….that could take a very long time and a lot of wishful thinking, and I’m not really sure there’s much we can do about it. For me, it’s kind of a waste of time…(what am I supposed to do, sit around and pray?!)I said: could we create a list of which VCs have wives and daughters? These are people with a personal exposure to the size and dynamics of the Women’s market. I’d love to get my hands on that list.I suspect people thought I was borderline nuts. And I suppose possibly discriminatory….so I extend, in advance, preemptive apologies to any single bachelor VCs out there who are wildly interested and experienced in female markets.Personal dimensions outside of the simple “VC” label probably make all the difference in the world as to whether they can add value to my business or even be drawn to it in a visceral way.Hey, at the end of the day, all business is personal.

          2. fredwilson

            four words you never say to a woman in her late thirties and forties

          3. paramendra

            Lucky indeed.

  16. RichardF

    Nice article. The Fred Wilson that we know here shines through in that piece.The fact that even as a VC you’ve been through some financially tough times will certainly resonate with many entrepreneurs.

    1. Derrick Bradley

      I know I did.

  17. JLM

    Great read but way too short.Being broke and then prevailing is the business equivalent of prevailing in hand to hand combat. It is great to win the struggle (the alternative being more than modestly unpleasant) and it is a huge confidence builder but it damn sure makes you appreciate the naked utility of having a good Beretta at hand or a good capital base. Or both.In the end, it is the struggle and knowing that you can prevail in hand to hand combat, if necessary, that makes you strong and confident when the times are lean.Here’s to those who have fought and won. That is after all the real American Dream!

    1. paramendra

      “Great read but way too short.”You articulated my primary thought on the piece.Maybe Fred should let me do a looooong piece on him for my blog. As long as need be. Like really long.

      1. Tereza

        How long, Paramendra?

        1. Matt A. Myers

          I think it should be at least 10 paragraphs.

        2. paramendra

          At least 4-5 times as long. Maybe longer. I’d make it my longest blog post to date.

      2. Mark Essel

        Since when do you need to get permission to blog about someone? I write about folks all the time, almost always to their benefit.edit: Oh an interview. That would be fun. I tried to do a short video interview series with startups and Fred a while back but it ended up being 2 startups (StockTwits and RocketHub). Editing the videos took far more time than I expected.

        1. paramendra

          I have never, almost never, edited a video I have uploaded. Do a search on my name at video.google.com. ๐Ÿ™‚

      3. Donna Brewington White

        A long piece on Fred is one thing…however, a long interview? Fred?

        1. paramendra

          I’d do it, if he would agree to sit down with me. A lot of people would do it. If he were to agree to sit down.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      …to even have the opportunity to fight…and the possibility of winning…the “reality” that provides a foundation for the “dream”.

  18. andyswan

    I’ll be disappointed if I never again stare down “being broke”, through the lens of an freshly empty rocks glass. That’s where the magic happened for me (a few times). Hunger drives the hunt.Fear of an empty pocket is a pair of handcuffs for the mind and soul.

    1. Tereza

      Very poetic, Andy! And true, to boot.Over time I’ve learned about myself that while I perform well when everyone’s flush and comfortable, I’m really damn good when there’s a struggle and that’s when I can do magic. I’d miss not doing that. There’s a ball of energy that builds when you’re underestimated and it’s worth being addicted to.+1

    2. LIAD

      true dat.Necessity is the mother of Invention

    3. ShanaC

      i would say not only hunger, a desire for self respect, recognition, independence, all sorts of factors.If only because I’m going through parts of it.

    4. Donna Brewington White

      “Fear of an empty pocket is a pair of handcuffs for the mind and soul.”Interestingly, in a section of Rich Dad, Poor Dad that I read today, Kiyosaki alluded to something similar.Seems that this type of fear can make the difference between mediocrity and greatness…or at least giving in to it can…Thanks for this thought, Andy.

  19. LIAD

    “But, when companies are not sustainable, we have a lot to say. We donโ€™t necessarily put a gun to their heads, but itโ€™s not that far from it.” – seems a bit out of character/quite harsh. Actually a quote?Agree re Andrey @Chat Roulette – met him in NYC – way too starry eyed and dazed to turn it into a business

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, i kind of cringed when i said thati probably did say it but it also probably wasn’t so bad in context of the entire thought that i articulated around it

      1. RichardF

        Don’t think there’s any need to cringe Fred, you come across as likeable but I don’t think it does any harm for people to understand that you will do what you need to do when the proverbial shit hits the fan.

        1. fredwilson

          it was the colorful language that made me cringe

          1. paramendra

            I don’t know how it could have been said otherwise. The point comes across. Sometimes selling a company off is the best of all options, but the founder might still be daydreaming an IPO, unwisely, or plain might be a deer in the headlights, immobile.

  20. ShanaC

    I have to ask- why do you still get the print version of the times. My parents still get the print version of the WSJ -yet honestly, the things I most liked about having a subscription were add ons like email alerts, bonus media, and occasionally getting the print version (like on a sunday when I want to be a bum and lay out in the sun with a paper)So why print? That’s kind of fascinating….

    1. fredwilson

      gotham needs to do the crossword in paper

      1. ShanaC

        Do you think there will be a time when she changes over? And then you stop getting paper newspapers? (Especially with the IPad at home now?)I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t an age/demographic thing.

        1. Tereza

          Just a little intergenerational translation.Anyone who completes the NYT crossword puzzle daily, especially in pen, is a badass and commands respect.Can’t replicate that on iPad.Before people used to sneak peeks at their blackberries during meetings, they secretly tackled the Crossword on small, discretely torn pieces of paper tucked into their notepads.Then again, that’s pure rumor. Certainly never did it myself!

          1. ShanaC

            I still think she’s a badass. She makes mandel bread!!! And writes aboutFeminism!!! I still think from an intergenerational pov, parts of gettinga newspaper everyday are a total ???????????? to me. And I think I asked areasonable question- I still get vogue and w, however if internetadvertising/blogging/lookbooks ever turned around I would totally switchaway from that. (I’m sorry, the blogs are not the same as the polished ads) I’m sort of waiting for a variety of ways to switch away that do replacelazy sunday/saturday with vogues thanks!

          2. Tereza

            I wasn’t going to go there but since you mentioned Saturdays and Sundays. There’s a special something about sharing the paper with the person you spent the night before. Bagels, dripped coffee on the Real Estate section….is there anything better?

          3. ShanaC

            bagels are city dependent. Yucky depending how far west of the hudson yougo.Other than that- nope, nothing better, however, soon to be a thing past. Also good- New Yorker Magazine…

          4. Donna Brewington White

            If only the New Yorker had a crossword…

        2. paramendra

          The person who got me onto Twitter is @jobsworth. He is from the previous generation. I think @fredwilson is in the same league in terms of getting tech trends. The generational rule of thumb would not apply to him.

          1. ShanaC

            What does that have to do with generational divides and newspapers? We allknow the newspapers advertising are falling off a cliff, and Comscorereports that if you are my age, the idea of more than occasionally reading anewspaper is bizarre.It’s a hugely interesting question if a lot of people here will seethemselves doing stuff with newspapers (like the crossword) in not to soonwith some other medium, like an IPAD.it is sort of facinating that I store my recipes in Google docs and (umm,the discontinued) Google Notebook (it is great for recipes….pity theydiscontinued it) yet my grandmother’s recipes are stored on paper in a bigbox (under some other big boxes) in my basement.I mean, I should want to hand them down too….sort of more complicated.Same with newspapers and crosswords- this is the stuff of everyday life. Ireally do wonder what people will do next.

          2. Tereza

            Digitize grandma’s and put the originals in a firebox.

          3. ShanaC

            On my family’s to do list. This involves selling a lot ofvideo-conferencing equipment (also in my basement) and going through a tonof old books, photos, ect.

          4. paramendra

            I see digital getting big. But I don’t see paper going away completely. I like taking notes on paper. I keep pen and paper handy next to my laptop. There is just something about an ink pen.

        3. Donna Brewington White

          Can’t speak for Gotham Gal…but for me, there are a precious few comforts and rituals that lose some of their pleasure in the more techno form…there are these sensory elements that can’t be replicated via LED…I don’t cling to many of these…but there are a few…doing the crossword in the inflight magazine during takeoff and landing is one…but think I’d enjoy the NYT version much more…

          1. ShanaC

            I draw on paper still. Everyone keeps telling me how easy it is to switch to computers. And I know it is a necessary skill. Yet I hate it. I like the feeling of charcoal crumbling in my hands and knowing what I will need to do with it to make it work, since every bar every day is a little different.

      2. paramendra

        LMAO.

  21. Nate

    No iPhone for “political reasons”? Does the iPad have a political reasons distortion field? :-)Enjoyed this profile on you. Superhero origin stories FTW.

    1. Tereza

      +1Actually it’s because of the very powerful Inaugural Shipment Exclusion Filter.

    2. kidmercury

      code is law — as such one should find a platform operator that one is in moral agreement. as for $teve….pfft.

      1. ShanaC

        pfff, code is not law. Culture is huge in how we implement law and code.

        1. kidmercury

          when you’re fredcard is turned off for speaking — no, thinking — negative thoughts about fred, and you are thus denied access to use fredbucks and shop at stores in fredland because the machines no longer accept your fredcard, then you will know all too well how code is law.

          1. ShanaC

            Iam waving my tricorn.I think Fred is a private citizen of the US and I do not owe fealty to himas some sort of king. I think he is a person and does person things, ofwhich I don’t know the vast majority of or about. And I think that is howlife should be. I am quite happy that there are no Fredbucks and there isno Fredland. If I wanted to join a new country, I would try to apply forcitizenship in Kemetia. At least there you vote in the King (by annualpopular referendum)!I am allowed to think there are cultural implications to code. Just becausea program does a variety of functions doesn’t mean you will use them all,and that may be in part because of your cultural background.

          2. David Binetti

            I just learned what a tricorn is, and that is seriously cool. I had no idea it had a name, and what a great visual. Sweet.

          3. ShanaC

            Your welcome. I just discovered the word lagniappe from JLM. Apparently it is a small gift you give at time of purchase. And it is a word that comes from the Gulf coast.Hmm, now we just need a crossword….

      2. Nate

        “$teve … pfft”. Seriously?Do you remember what phones, phone apps, and the mobile web were like before the iPhone?

        1. kidmercury

          yes, i do remember. what i remember most is that at&t was not doing as well. what i remember second most is that at&t assists the NSA in violating the US constitution, as has been documented by numerous whistleblowers and news sources like wired magazine. i know many iphone users like to forget about this, preferring to coddle themselves with their touch screens and rounded corners. to that i can only say two things: lol, and pfft.

    3. fredwilson

      i won’t get another one.i badly want another pad or two for my house, office, etcbut it will be an android padso yes, my political views will ultimately impact iPad as well

  22. paramendra

    Fred Wilson: An Unassuming Kind Of Guyhttp://technbiz.blogspot.co…

  23. onsip

    Fred – Very cool interview. It’s short and sweet. I feel like your readers here already know you well.Yesterday, we sponsored TWTRCON, and I met @dens. Very nice guy, and did you know they’re testing out OnSIP? We probably have you to thank!Also, I’m with Gotham Gal on the crossword puzzles. -Nicole @onsip

    1. fredwilson

      tell the foursquare guys to call me if they need a reference on onsip

      1. onsip

        Awesome. Thanks, Fred!

  24. Dan Vidakovich

    “No Goal, regardless of how small, can be achieved without adequate training.” Taiichi Ohno – One of the inventors of the Toyota Production System.I can’t think of one industry that would not benefit from a very strong apprenticeship culture. At first I was shocked it took you five years to make your first investment, but it makes sense. We don’t come out of the womb knowing how be a good poker player or investor – we have to learn those skills. You must have had great mentors, leaders, friends and family that helped get to where you are. I’m not trying to take away from all the hard work you’ve done – because I’m sure it was a lot – but it took an additional six year of college and graduate school to get your foot in the door. After that, you had to work side by side for five years learning the ins and outs of the VC business. I think one of the most valuable parts of your training was the five year apprenticeship and there must be a more efficient way to teach the required material instead of six years of college.Perhaps one way would be to learn and work in parallel and maybe even have your mentors pick the courses they think are important. You’ve written many times that training was necessary for your young CEOs, but I think it’s fascinating it took ten years to complete your training. Using the internet and taking a few efficiency tips from Taiichi Ohno, I bet we could not only shorten that pipeline but save a few dollars and make education more affordable.The Submarine Guy

  25. Sfraise77

    Not to get off topic here, but I’ve been seeking venture capital for a proven profitable consumer internet project and am flooded with these firms claiming they can get me funding if I only give them $15,000 up front for due diligent fees. I’m not in a position to give anyone $15,000 up front on a hope and a prayer for funding lol, I think I would have better odds taking that money to the poker table if I did. Are there any legit venture capitalists out there that are genuinely interested in investing in a proven profitable consumer internet project for over 2 years? Or should I just give up and just keep chugging along on my own?

    1. fredwilson

      Do not pay up front for funding!!!!

      1. Sfraise77

        Thanks for the reply Fred!It’s frustrating trying to cut through the scams and time wasters, feels like I’m just spinning my wheels. I’ve submitted my business plan to a dozen or so VC firms directly and joined the Gobignetwork site for $60 which is where most of the scammers find me and no real legit response yet.Do you have any tips for people like me?Does a consumer internet web 2.0 community site stand a chance of finding capital these days or is it just too tight?

        1. JLM

          Yes, I have a tip. Check back when you have French kissed at least 100 frogs. When your eyes are glued shut with frog slime, you will know you are just beginning to make progress.Raising money is the easiest thing in the world next to self cauterizing a fresh cut wound with a blow torch. See, isn’t that encouraging?You need to get your pitches (elevator, taxi cab and formal) together and start kissing frogs.You only need 1 YES in 100 NOs to get your deal done. So, cowboy up and go find the other 88 and start pitching. Learn something new from every thumb in the eye you receive.Don’t worry, while it is demeaning and leaves you anxiously looking for love, it really doesn’t matter once you get it done. The more you do it, the more insensitive you become to absolute rejection and any sense of self respect.On the best lick I ever hit in my life, I spent 18 months 4 days a week pitching my deal and while I finally go it done, I learned every possible way in several different languages to be told no.Even my slut dog Lab turned me down and she is very, very easy. She preferred Shih Tzus — go figure?It’s OK cause it only takes one yes. Let every NO fuel the fires of your entrepreneurial passion. Make your revenge getting your deal done. You CAN do it.Frankly, today comparatively the world is still awash with money. Go find that one yes cause it IS out there. I promise. I promise you can do it if you are just willing to do away with any sense of personal dignity and are not willing to take NO for the final answer.You can do it. See, isn’t that easy? Oh, yeah, never ever lose your sense of humor or you will truly go nuts.Remember Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team the first year he tried out. As I recall, his career turned out OK. So will yours.Good luck!

          1. Sfraise77

            Lol, thanks for the encouragement.I don’t really take it personally, I just feel like time is wasting.Anyway, I’ll just keep pluggin away, thanks again!

          2. Roger Toennis

            JLM! Thank you! Totally agree with your points. Ya gotta do the work and suffer the bruises.I just wish VC’s would give this kind of pep talk to every first time entrepreneur when they get asked for advice or even after they just turned declined on an idea from that entrepreneur.Sometimes we just need a kind word of encouragement from someone who understands the entrepreneurs mental odyssey.Roger

          3. Tereza

            Don’t expect those kind of tips from VCs (except maybe Fred, who is a nice guy).This pep talk needs to come from other entrepreneurs who’ve pimped themselves out like we are doing!It’s a very different experience doing the asking, from playing judge and jury. Unless a VC has done this themselves, they only know this theoretically. We are just working in entirely different force-fields.More often than not I find VCs provide nightmare stories of pitches that sucked. Which are funny (or nerve-wracking) stories. But they tend not to get down to the operational brass tacks of how that first Yes was gotten.Also I’m not sure that asking LPs for money is the same dynamic…..although Fred or any other VCs please feel to chime in on that.

          4. karen_e

            JLM rules!

        2. Roger Toennis

          You have a chance if your idea really serves a specific need for a specific target community of users. If you really are already “proven” and “profitable” you should not have much trouble.Investors want to see you with total confidence and belief in your idea. Sometimes it just takes one person who deeply believes in something to will it into existence and make it real. There are thousands of good ideas that can succeed but just are missing a passionate entrepreneur to adopt them and bring them to life.Go ask all your friends and family if they will invest in you and your idea.If you don’t believe in your idea enough to ask friends/family for money then you might not believe in it enough.If none of them will invest that is an important message. If a lot invest and believe in both you and the idea then you know you have something in both your idea and in yourself that says you should go make it happen.Roger

          1. Sfraise77

            Thanks, a friend of mine invested a little bit into it but I don’t have many wealthy friends lol.I have the revenue and overhead sheets for the last two years to show it’s been profitable each and every month for two years.The site is focused on online chat which is a high demand, under served market that a lot of the big players have either stepped away from altogether or have stopped innovating and marketing it. What’s left is saturated with spam, a pay site, or has no features at all. We’re able to eliminate 99% of the spam and offer all the bells and whistles and then some while still keeping it free and still turning a decent profit. There are still a lot of people out there that want this type of service but the current competition’s options available just don’t offer a good user experience.I eek out a meager living off of the site presently, however if I could find some funding and put together a small team I really believe this site could dominate the market relatively quickly. I don’t want to seem like spamming the board or anything but if you want to see the site just do a search for oohya.

  26. Donna Brewington White

    I can see why you let this guy interview you. Like you, Bilton accomplishes a lot with an efficiency of words. He covered quite a bit of ground in a relatively brief article, and with acuity. I did scroll down to see if there was more and can understand why someone might be disappointed that there wasn’t. However, there is a sense in which “the rest is history.” ” I would prefer people write about the entrepreneurs we back and the companies they build. That’s where the interesting stories are.”True, these are interesting — sometimes even amazing — stories. But, a lot of us are not merely looking for interesting stories. You are more than a story. Another thought…in recent months you’ve made at least a couple of poignant statements about the difference between investors and entrepreneurs. However, one thing this article points out is that you’ve shared some similar experiences to entrepreneurs…in ways that matter.

  27. Leigh

    Fred – Glad to be part of our very first investment! Of course, I thought that was Milt’s deal ๐Ÿ˜‰ Glad to see you’ve done so well – you should be very proud!. It’s been a long time since those board meetings at the Yale (or University) Club. Keep up the great work – Leigh

    1. fredwilson

      Hi LeighHow are you?