Let's Go To The Videotape

I'm running a video this morning in lieu of a post. Here's a quick (~4min) video that Mathew Ingram did with me yesterday during my visit to Toronto.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Fred, thanks for a 4 minute thoughtcast to start the day.The idea of narrowing the social funnel into higher value conversations is something I’ve been thinking about also. The difference at a high level between the examples you mention and Facebook Groups (which was built to narrow the social stream) is that in Facebook, the idea of reputation is muddy. Facebook has an increasingly muddy and messy issue to deal with as it scales.

  2. William Mougayar

    This was the most concise and to-the-point analysis describing the changes that are happening to the VC industry,- better than the babble talk on TC comments.It’s ironic that (some of) those VC’s that are investing in companies that are supposed to “change the world” aren’t able to change and adapt themselves.What will be interesting to see is how this plays out over the next 6-12 months. My gut feel is that this was only the first shoe that dropped.

  3. Matt A. Myers

    Edit: Deleting comment, didn’t add anything to discussion.

    1. LIAD

      The calibre of discussion on this blog is astounding.On how many other blogs anywhere online do commenters self-edit as Matthew did above in order to maintain the value-add and commenting standards.Impressive stuff

      1. Matt A. Myers

        You so sexi ;)And thanks.Now I go back to work, for real this time.P.S. I need Charlie Crystle’s Focus app (for Mac) so I can block AVC. Hope you find a way to gett’r done, Charlie!

        1. JLM


          1. Matt A. Myers

            I don’t take medications of any sort. I took an anti-inflammatory as the last thing I took on suggestion of my chiropractor, who said, if I was to ever take anything that now would be a good time; I tweaked a nerve in my spine playing floor hockey … my back was uber loose as I had just finished doing a hot yoga class… Anywho. Excitement focuses me. Boredom doesn’t. Giving myself tons to do stresses me, excites me – makes me get stuff done. πŸ™‚

  4. InTheBox

    didn’t quite understand why more capital is a positive for USV, can you elaborate?

    1. ErikSchwartz

      More early capital gets more ideas off the whiteboard and actually built. Once it’s built (even in a crude way) you know much more about a products viability and you can start to get it in front of real users.

      1. InTheBox

        Erik, do you think this offsets rising valuations and lost deals? only a few weeks back Fred was lamenting the onset of convertible debt instruments as an unfortunate development for early stage investors, presumably this is the result of a “seller’s market”, no?

  5. JLM

    This brings to mind a favorite observation — the world is moving so fast that nobody really has 20 years — hell, even 5 years — of experience any more.We all have one year of experience 20 times or 5 times. Take your pick.What we did 3 years ago is no longer even relevant to what we do today.Oh, there’s a bit of attendant universal business and life wisdom garnered from all that flying time but there is damn little that is truly applicable to what we do today.The second observation I make is that the funding of “ideas” has successfully jumped the track from the VC “club” to a more democratic platform.Because the initial funding requirements for intellectual property based ideas are generally less expensive and the “dating” marketplace for entrepreneurs and angels has become a bit more obvious and effective, the traditional rights of passage and supplication have changed — in my view, for the better.When capital is constrained for illogical reasons — no white after Labor Day kind of illogic —, alternative capital will find a way to “leak” in through the cracks of that illogic. Good ideas will get funded solely because they deserve to get funded purely on the basis of merit.This is raw capitalism. There is a lesson for our entire Nation on the pervasive manner in which economic fundamentals ultimately trump artificial economic barriers.

    1. ErikSchwartz

      I agree as far as product, technology, market, and financing are concerned.Where I will quibble with you is experience in the management of people.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Definitely a long learning process I’d consider myself a newbie in many aspects of it. I’m excited to learn though – it’ll be much more different once I have an office of people to manage in-house rather than working with people online which to me has a few big negatives.Does anyone know of a good blog on managing people? Maybe horror stories, what not to-to’s, what to-do’s, etc? Obviously there’s little bits of great quality information on many different VC blogs.Maybe all of it really needs to be learned via experience? Making mistakes that hopefully just sting a little, maybe hurt your pride, make you feel a bit stupid, and then continue on knowing better?

        1. JLM

          Just be kind and be yourself. Be honest. Listen before speaking and always say less than you’re inclined to.The secret? Well, uh, hmmm, the secret is that there is no secret.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            Be kind and honest is something I follow as my deepest core values. I should do okay then.Saying les than I’m inclined to, I need to figure that one out a bit as I’m very analytical and can usually go a further depth than many people can understand….. and then really is just non-sense. πŸ™‚

          2. JLM

            The smartest guy in the room is the one who is never detected as being the smartest guy in the room.I once worked for a guy who was literally the best “deal” guy I have ever met then or since. He could go into a convent and come out w/ a pocketful of panties. LOLI would almost laugh myself to crying thinking about how he could work the egos of some of the most powerful people in the world.I watched him almost cause a fist fight between Walter Wriston and an English lord vying to see who was going to be his host to play golf. They both wanted him to be their “BFF”. It was so damn funny that I dined out on that experience for years.This was after Citi had already committed $100MM to a deal w/ him.This is why lots of wizards end up working for guys with inferior educations who are entrepreneurs or leaders.There is book smart and there is deal smart. And then there is wicked wizard clever.

          3. Matt A. Myers

            I don’t know your history too well. I know you’re a wizard, but how did you reach that? How much was books via academia? How much was self-directed learning? Sorry if this is common knowledge. πŸ™‚

          4. paramendra

            I guess the secret is being able to do it over and over again.

        2. ErikSchwartz

          In my experience if you do your hiring right then the people management is easy.If you do your hiring wrong it is very hard.

          1. FlavioGomes

            How do you do it right? Sure you can mitigate some risk but I don’t care what back-ground checks, tests, deep examinations you do. You will still never really know until that person gets behind the wheel of their role.

          2. ErikSchwartz

            When I have a sure-fire way…I’ll write a book.For now I like trial periods before commitment.

          3. FlavioGomes

            Ya that’s a good way to go. We have a three month period.

          4. Donna Brewington White

            When you have the luxury of a three month trial then that’s great. However, if you are recruiting in highly competitive fields and markets, you may have a hard time luring someone away from a job into a “trial” — especially the most desirable candidates. That said, a lot of times the problem is not so much in the hiring but in the transition process. A lot of attention should be given to creating the best transition period possible.

          5. susequinn

            Hard to get the commitment from excellent candidates if there’s such a caveat as a three month trial. I prefer teamsmanship “all in the boat” approach, we shall sink or swim together, paired with very serious gut check on the integrity of the candidate before bringing key members on board, and when they are your, give them your heart and soul when they commit. You’ll see it back triplefold. But alas I am an idealistic entrepreneur — who recruits people who are a million times smarter and better than me. πŸ™‚

          6. susequinn

            I am sorry, I can’t believe I said “But, alas…”

          7. Donna Brewington White

            “You will still never really know until that person gets behind the wheel of their role.”I guess this is where I can weigh in.To some extent, what you’ve said is true, but you can definitely minimize the negative surprises both for the company and the new hire. Granted that most of my experience in recent years is with senior level or executive hiring, but here are a few tips that I think can translate into most professional level roles:Go with the old adage that the past is the best predictor of the future. So interviewing must be behavioral. Look for people who have made mistakes and have learned from them — and don’t repeat them. The higher the level of responsibility the more important this is. If someone hasn’t had a significant failure then assume it is yet to come and realize that it could happen at your company. Doesn’t mean that it will, but well…that’s the gamble. If they haven’t processed and learned from past failures or mistakes — and made behavioral changes as a result, there is a strong possibility this will be repeated. Understand motivations and how the person makes choices and decisions. For instance, what has been the reason behind job changes — why left, what attracted? Focus more on the person than on knowledge and skills. I’m not saying that knowledge and skills are unimportant, but, the package they come in is infinitely more important. For instance, does the person’s workplace values match those of the organization? When they look into the future, what do they want out of life and their career? What choices and decisions have they made to support this? What goals have they set and accomplished?Look not only at what was accomplished, but how it was accomplished and how much direct influence the individual actually had on the results produced. Accomplishments can be deceiving without some context. Look for patterns. Patterns are there. Look for patterns. Patterns are there. Patterns repeat.Stay objective and be fearless in the discovery process. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself — mind the little checks that you get. Never fall in love with a candidate. No candidate is perfect, so know what your non-negotiables are, where you are willing to make trade-offs and make them with your eyes wide open. When you do references, ask pointed questions and pay as much attention to what the reference doesn’t say as to what s/he does say.This is not exhaustive, but get the general idea? Lastly, what I think it is important to note is that a lot of bad hires result not so much from hiring the wrong person but from hiring for the wrong organization or even the wrong job. In other words, make sure you have a realistic and honest understanding of the environment and the job you are hiring for. Make certain that you are hiring for the organization that actually “is” rather than the one that is in your mind or that you want it to be. I don’t mean that you should not hire for the company you are becoming — bridging the gap between the present and the future is what a lot of startup hiring is all about. But, before you hire make sure that your current team feels that they can be blatantly honest and seek their feedback and input as to what your environment is like and what it takes to succeed there. As I’m writing this, I’m thinking about more entrepreneurial companies where precedent is limited and there are few, if any, systems around hiring.Also, I am becoming more enamored with formal assessment — but not as the final word.

          8. awaldstein

            Well said DonnaTwo pieces to add.-online presence. With some exceptions, most professionals have one. If they don’t, you can ask why? This weaves a story of a person’s true dynamic as an individual over time. I depend on this more and more. I think you saw this…http://bit.ly/cM8btC-references. At the exec level, its easier. You can back channel them. At a professional level, it’s hard as no one gives a reference that is not going to be a positive one. I’m not certain that in more than a very few cases after scores of hires over the years, I’ve ever had a flagged raised at the reference level.

          9. Donna Brewington White

            Arnold — thanks for the link — had missed that but wow what a word to the wise in “hiring 2.0” (Hmmm…that sounds like a great name for a blog!)Good thoughts too w/ regard to online presence and references. I am sure that I could learn A LOT about recruiting and hiring from you (already have) and from this community.This is one of those subjects that can be opened up in a post and then let the collective wisdom stream in. I find that many of the seasoned hiring executives I’ve worked with know as much — and actually a lot more — than I do about hiring. They just don’t have the concentrated time to focus on all the mechanics — and, okay, sometimes, I will see things or know things they don’t — but because of the aforesaid my favorite situations are when I am partnering with the person doing the hiring and we can work as a team.One of my favorite searches of all time was for a nonprofit where the all-volunteer search committee was headed by the non-executive chair of a multibillion dollar global corporation with whom I had regular contact and the opportunity to deliberate and problem solve with someone whose decisions and transactions generally involved hundreds of millions of dollars and hundreds if not thousands of people– I felt I should have been paying HIM the fee for all that I was learning! But my fascination is with startup hiring — because of the acuteness of the dynamic of bridging the present and future (mixing pragmatism and vision), the uniqueness of the “right fit” and how much is at stake with each hire. Plus it’s just fun.Well, I’ve over-replied here, but can’t think of what I would delete.Thanks as always, Arnold.

          10. awaldstein

            Sounds like you have a blog in the brewing here Donna…Go for it!

          11. Donna Brewington White

            Thanks, Arnold. Brave new world!

          12. FlavioGomes

            Hi Donna. Some great advice in your post. While I did say mitigate risk in my earlier comment, I’ve found that the best hires I’ve had came from recruiters who did exhaustive “due diligence” prior the recommendation. Not all of them worked out…hence the ‘behind the wheel comment” but generally they had a better batting average than when we did it internally.

          13. Donna Brewington White

            You are right, even with recruiters it doesn’t always work out. I wish I knew even a year ago, what I know now, not to mention 5 or even 10 years ago. I’m sure I will say the same next year.But with experience I find that the batting average increases. Recruiters/search consultants must also — must especially — learn from mistakes. Much of what I shared earlier is with past experience fresh in my mind. Must admit that the failures in this process can be especially painful given all that is at stake so I am loathe to repeat them.Thanks so much for the follow-up! Glad you’re back!

          14. Donna Brewington White

            One last thought (I promise) on online presence. I often do a quasi-background check by “googling” a candidate — not just for blogs and their social media activity, etc., but it’s amazing the other things you might find — lawsuits, IRS issues, jobs that are omitted from the resume, etc.

          15. Susan Quinn

            I was GM of a restaurant for a while and learned of a sneak around – call the kitchen phone and ask one of the sous chefs for a reference on an exec chef… you will know instantly if the candidate was respected by his/her battalion… or not.

          16. awaldstein


          17. Aviah Laor


          18. Donna Brewington White

            A “wow” from you Aviah is not taken lightly and makes my day. Thanks.

          19. RichardF

            This is worthy of an AVC guest post imo, great advice

          20. Donna Brewington White

            Thanks, Richard. Have learned from my own mistakes and the mistakes of others.Oh, and from my and others successes, too.

          21. Donna Brewington White

            BTW, based on your comment turned this into a post on my own blog.http://bit.ly/9YXZ93Thanks, again.

      2. JLM

        Not a quibble, you are simply correct. Fat fingers on my part.One’s ability to work with and relate to people is a life long learning experience. While I am fairly facile in dealing w/ people of all kinds, I cannot say a day ever goes by that I do not learn something new.

    2. Matt A. Myers

      Well, I started out teaching myself to program when I was 11 years old, so I do consider myself to have ~17 years experience at least in the macro sense of seeing how things have evolved online, and having evolved myself along with it. I’ve not been doing just programming those years and don’t do as much now because I’m needing to learn more, gain new experiences, become more well-rounded, and as you mentioned keep up with technologies and figuring out leading tactics, etc..”Good ideas will get funded solely because they deserve to get funded purely on the basis of merit.” I know my ideas fit into the ‘good ideas’ – I just have some worry that VCs will see what I’m trying to do as trying to do too much – but I can get it done and in a proper sequence working on the next layer when ready … still trying to get some more stuff done so I have more meat for presentation. Anyway. Back to work for me, long list of things to do today.

      1. JLM

        Every entrepreneur in the history of the world has been trying to do too much. That is a primary symptom of the disease.Congratulations.

        1. FlavioGomes

          and the cure is often doing less with more focus.

        2. Matt A. Myers

          Look ma’! I’ve got the disease! And I’m lovin’ it!

      2. Aviah Laor

        I have a to do list that is called “features creep”.It usually has so many items, that after a few months it makes you wander how on earth did you even consider to do it.But the fact that it’s written somewhere takes off the load.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          Yup for sure! I have to write down my ideas too. It let’s my brain let go of them then (or integrate them anyway).I have 175 TextEdit windows open right now to organize into directories. No joke. But I’ll get them done within 2 hours. It’s my “creative flow” mode. I like this mode. Then I get into organizing and prioritizing list. I like this mode even more. I re-focused myself and I re-figured out my new two highest priorities – and the best part is most of the work is already done, files saved in directories that I named relevantly – I just have to organize them together and gett’r done.

    3. kagilandam

      Still there are areas in which things are moving in tortoise pace … basic physics is a good example.There are some science and engineering experiences which i don’t think we can break like that….unless you go back and understand the latest changes will make no sense…. as an example to build a 64-CT-machine … the mechanical engineer has to have minimum 5-7-years experience working on the same (exactly same…not even similar) before he could come-up with working prototype without image quality degradation.There is this ccd-frame-grabber (just 1Kx1K medical… no streaming and compression) which is not improving beyond 30fps for the past 5-years.I am trying to put the other perspective when it comes to medical products which puts patient safety and data integrity as the top priority.

      1. JLM

        What an interesting and insightful comment. Thanks.

    4. DS

      I was at Fred’s talk in Toronto yesterday and it was great. Thanks again Fred! I wanted to ask a question then, related to the above, but wasn’t afforded the time as there was a lot of demand to hear from Fred. Question from a high-level:With the technical knowledge gap between baby-boomers> vs. the first wave of students entering the workforce who have had an entire lifetime of technology, internet + digital tools at their finger tips and the pending significant evolution of the same —> where are we headed? What are some of the fundamental, structural and moral issues that society will be confronted with? Not too long ago we were teaching people how to use call waiting and VCR’s that had a total of 7 buttons and a flashing clock. Hold on for a great ride. Its sure is a great time to be alive.

      1. JLM

        Uhh, DS, I don’t have that kind of time today. LOLWe are at the cusp of one of the most interesting times in the history of mankind — the ability to literally see the entire world at the same instant in time and to act on a global basis while sitting in one’s PJs in front of a screen.The ability to read and be informed on an almost identical basis as, say, Henry Kissinger, was once upon a time.At the same time, we have mankind valuing elegant simplicity in their lives at a huge premium. a few draughts from the fire hose makes one prize a quiet drink on the patio.I think you may be underestimating the Baby Boomers just a tad. While the young are making their decisions almost by default — they cannot opt out of technology as an example. They literally don’t know better.The Baby Boomers are able to afford and be selective about their involvement and they possess a more precious commodity — time. The fastest growing segment for F’bk — you guessed it the BBs.Plus understand the demographics well — there will be more BBs than any other designation and they have just now started to arrive. Sexy at sixty, anyone?We have created an entire industry around boners! LOL Never waste — a bathroom, a buffet or a boner! Sorry.You raise an enormously interesting question when you use the word “moral”. Not only do we know a bit more about geography — did you know where Basra was before the Iraq war(s)?Did you know the intricacies of Shia, Sunni, Kurds, Pashtuns and the implications of the literal readings of the Koran?Oh, yeah, hang on because the ride has just begun!

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          On the money JLM. At this point, we still have the overflow of products that are rigid, taking care of only one facet related to the customer’s needs/lifestyle. That will be changing.Dr. Ben Goertzel and myself (along with others) have fashioned the way to cut across categories of interest, delivery vehicles and market niches through the next level of AI. It has been an interesting ride over the past couple trying to explain this without the other person jumping in with whatever current product that is irrelevent. Not complaining, just find it interesting.We are truly on the cusp. As we move through the current ‘2-thing’ that is being pushed by the video phone on the social site and jump over to the AI Assistant taking care of tasks/updates as you ‘video’ and read…a lot will happen. And the BB’s will be on board, for we are taking care of the problem of ‘eye strain’.

          1. JLM

            Just don’t forget about me.

          2. Dave W Baldwin

            Of course not. Since I’m the ‘freshman’ on this board, I’m trying to be polite and establish some credibility. You guys will be surprised what I offer and at what price. This next decade is going to be fun!

      2. Aviah Laor

        tell you the truth, I never got it how to program the VCR :0

        1. CJ

          I think you had to know COBOL or Assembly. A dreadful experience to be sure.

          1. FlavioGomes

            Don’t dis cobol…that language was directly responsible for BILLIONS of market cap!

        2. susequinn

          It’s cuz nothing was on in the 80s worth taping. If there was, you would have mastered it regardless of the really bad user experience. Content!

    5. William Mougayar

      The “Funding” of an idea or company, although a milestone in of itself is not the objective nor the success indicator. Funding is a means to an end whether the impetus was merit or performance.

      1. FlavioGomes

        But you always envied the guys that got the”deal” and when you yourself finally got one…the race track suddenly seemed to have a shitload more hairpins!! and then you didn’t envy them as much any more….

        1. William Mougayar

          Well…Yes and No. Getting funding on its own is an ego trip. Maybe I’m a minority, but I’m more pleased with results, customers/users, metrics, traction which are the objective. Again, funding is a means to that end.

          1. FlavioGomes

            For sure…my comment was in the context of the moment and that sense of triumph when one reaches that milestone of a raise and the stark reality of how it changes your trajectory. Trust me William, the majority who raise money care about the results. To think otherwise would be naive.Sorry I don’t mean to be flippant… the emotional investment in raising capital and putting your reputation on the line and looking in the eyes of the guys who are backing you… is an – All In – experience. After all those dog and ponies…all those meetings where you dropped your pants..showed em everything you got….when you thought you were the only guy on the planet that believed in this crazy idea…and your team parading behind you with same conviction, drive and determination, meeting after meeting. when the investors looked at you and said….”Yes!”….I saw the heavens open and the sunrise was breathtaking. Just be mindful of the high pressure storm front that may roll in from time to time.A former and since disgraced President once saidβ€œSuccess is not a harbor but a voyage with its own perils to the spirit”.

          2. susequinn

            Yeah, that’s what I’m telling my team, a couple of them that haven’t been through this before… We are raising our first round, and we started presentations in June. We are in October now… I tell them, “Just wait. We will look back on this as the good old days! When we get funded the REAL work begins!” These are the good old days.

      2. JLM

        What you say is perfectly correct but I have never known a car that got any place good without a bit of gas in the tank. Getting the funding is no more important than, say, oxygen or water, no?

        1. William Mougayar

          I don’t think we disagree. I didn’t say you don’t need funding (yes, it’s like gas, oxygen, water), but I see it as a way/means to get to that destination. Filling the tank (or getting it filled) is not the biggest achievement, but getting there with the car is,- no?

          1. susequinn

            Plenty of funded companies are not good companies and it is not an indicator of success. It is one of the steps on the road to building something big faster than you can alone.

  6. baba12

    4 minutes is 240 seconds. I wonder if Mr.Wilson had some reason for that time limit.I like that you are able to rise above the ego maniacal ways of many who are in similar position as you and stay grounded in how you cogently present your reasons. You do have a gift of explaining and expressing ideas succinctly. Wonder if you ever thought of doing Monday morning MBA’s as video segments.If only web services could be disruptive in new energy storage technologies or in material sciences.Those are the fields that could revolutionize the way we live in society globally.The barrier to entry in those fields is pretty high and it would be nice if some of increased amounts of capital available were able to get channeled into those things.There are no y-combinator or beta works etc for those industries. Is it just because the risk to reward ratio is so high that it is not a viable model for firms like USV to get involved in.

    1. JLM

      Brilliant idea — the Monday MBA video segments. Of course, Fred does have a day job which does not entail just entertaining us. But I love the idea. Well played!

      1. FlavioGomes

        Umm…unless some one can point me to how I can index the video content for snippet searches than I would also request a transcript to go along. Please and thank-you.

        1. susequinn

          I invented that in 1996 and didn’t get funded, not kidding

      2. Matt A. Myers


    2. ShanaC

      They’re really high- one of the really interesting things about MBA monday is a lot of the material is generated by the comments. Same with business school. A lot of the material is generated out of class.

      1. fredwilson

        I’d say 80pcnt of the value in MBA Mondays is behind the comment link

  7. kirklove

    “Reputations are what matter”I think that line hits on why you’re not super concerned with the influx of capital. You (and USV) have worked hard to, as Ron Burgundy would say, “Stay Classy” You’re a good egg and people know that. They also know they are getting more than just capital with USV. That’s incredibly important. As a result folks want to talk to you and have you invest even when there might be more capital elsewhere. Good for you for cultivating that long-term, good-willed approach.A question for you on the Globalization aspect: How does USV handle the research end of that? I know you’ve traveled overseas a bit, but in what ways are USV exploring the global entrepreneur space?

    1. JLM

      It takes 20 years to establish a reputation and 20 seconds to ruin one.The exemplars of the trite statement could fill a football stadium in about 10 minutes.Pretend Fred is not going to read this comment —What I find particularly interesting about AVC is that Fred has created an effective marketing arm in which it is an unending series of testimonials which only makes his funnel wider.He has also provided a bit of a Rosetta Stone for those peering into the tent from the outside.Lastly, he has successfully attracted a cross section of folks who are civilized, accomplished, thoughtful and well disbursed. The comity of the discussion is extraordinary.Forget about VC, this is a marketing and communications triumph. Quite extraordinary.

      1. Harry DeMott

        Comity?Surely you mean comedy!I mean comity is like a $10 word.I was recently camping with an Englishman (reformed of course, now living in CT) and in the middle of a sentence he slaps the word bonhomie.He may have you beat there – but comity is pretty good. I’m waiting for effulgent in a post!

        1. JLM

          Haha, very damn …………………………………………………………………………………………..funny!Of course, one would not have to even tip their glass at the use of “bonhomie”, really?Now “effulgent” is absolutely a winner in the world of “word pong”.My favorite is “otiose”. I will try to work it into the mix in the next couple of weeks. LOLWe are all clowns at the circus some days and some of us are clowns at the circus all days. the challenge is to figure out which is which.

          1. Harry DeMott

            Jeez – I thought it went: if you go to the circus and you can’t figure outwho in the tent is a clown – then you are the clown!okay too much poker in the past.Back to work – this discourse is otiose

          2. JLM

            Hey, you shoplifted my word. I have been holding and nurturing that word for a long, long time waiting for just the right time to deploy it. You wastrel!

          3. Harry DeMott

            I’m going to be completely honest here. I wasn’t going to use it till I hadto go back to work – and I figured I would look up the word – wasn’t in thearsenal. Once I saw it – it fit the final sentence of the thought.

          4. JLM

            True story — funny thing — you must made me think of something that I had not thought about for years.We were poor — didn’t know it or feel it at the time as we were always so damn happy. Great lesson for me.Every night at dinner, my Mom — who was a Reader’s Digest devotee — would have flash cards with vocabulary words on them. I had two brilliant sisters — one mean as a snake too. I was the intellectual runt of the litter and still am.But I could work the flash cards. Who ever got the most right on the second go round — well, hell, you got as much banana pudding as you could eat. Have you ever had really great homemade banana pudding? Talk about motivation.Years later I asked my Mom about the flash cards and she said one of the most insightful things I have ever heard — just because we were poor, we didn’t have to act and sound like we were poor. The smallest bit of self improvement can go a long way.The other great bit of advice — dress like the dummies in the Bond’s storefront windows because they had their wardrobes fitted by professional stylists. So, every so often, my Mom would tell me — you look very handsome, just like a dummy! LOL

          5. Dale Allyn

            Thank goodness for the Mac’s right-click dictionary look-up… you smarty-pantses.;-) heehee

          1. Harry DeMott

            Show one little bit of weakness (or honesty) and you are crushed!Comity was in there, but thanks for the link.

        2. paramendra

          “I’m waiting for effulgent in a post!”LOL

        3. Donna Brewington White

          You stole my line Harry. Fortunately I scrolled down before replying.Speaking of impressive words, I was pretty impressed with Peter Beddow’s (another Brit) use of the word “perspicacity” the other day in a comment — and I admit I had to look it up just now before typing it.

          1. Harry DeMott

            I missed that one. Definitely an excellent word. Thanks.

      2. kirklove

        In the spirit of being civilized I’d like to respectively disagree with you just a little bit. I don’t buy into the it takes 20 years to establish a reputation and 20 seconds to ruin it. People who have solid reputations get more leeway on things. They’ve earned it. That’s what the 20 years are all about. Now I’m not saying they can be boneheads carte blanche, but I am certainly willing to weigh one action against the totality of their actions. One bad act doesn’t erase 1,000 good ones IMHO.

        1. JLM

          Ask Elliott Spitzer if he agrees?He sticks in my mind because I never liked the guy but never thought him to be a pervert. I respected what seemed to be his sincere desire to identify and punish wrongdoing in the financial world.There is a very funny diatribe by his madam about what a boring lay he was — as reported by her girls — and how boring his new show on CNN w/ Kathleen Parker is.I am sure it must be painful to live through a critique of the show but the bedroom — ouch. Of course, the beloved and surely saintly Silda may come forward and stand by her man once again, no?This guy will never be taken seriously again. Ever.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            What’s your take on Mark Zuckerburg then?

          2. JLM

            I am not informed enough to offer a genuinie opinion but I am looking forward to seeing Social Network.

          3. Matt A. Myers

            Hope you enjoy it!

      3. Matt A. Myers

        “It takes 20 years to establish a reputation and 20 seconds to ruin one.”That’s why you should only worry about your character – how you act and react. If someone hears something about you and they care, they’ll ask you. Know what happened, why it happened, explain how you behaved in response. Even if it’s fessing up to having been immature and having a lesson you needed to learn. How you handle your response to an inquiry immensely shows your character.

        1. JLM

          Character is the driver when making right something that went wrong.I always tell people — we eat all the dropped pies in our kitchen.I cannot say that I have ever had to go eat a bit of crow nor to make an abject apology but I would always be inclined to approach things that way.I have had a few plain vanilla business “misunderstandings” which I have had to make right.Sometimes you end up w/ a stronger relationship when people see how you attend to their needs. Every complaint is a one on one sales opportunity.

          1. paramendra

            “Every complaint is a one on one sales opportunity.”Wow. Nugget.

          2. Tereza

            In my first job was selling national TV advertising to a bunch of people who were extremely skeptical of our ability to deliver on what we promised.To close the deal, I was simply super nice. Called them every day to check if everything’s going OK. Just monitored it like crazy, trying to signal that — I appreciate you’re taking a risk, and if anything goes wrong call me and I’ll do everything in my powers to make it right.Turns out we over-delivered. I’m talking, seriously over-delivered. Eyeball for eyeball they got the best deal they ever did..probably doubled their media effectiveness from previous.This gave us the ability to charge more and demand more share. Quarter by quarter we jacked it up…..to the degree that I could say spend 100% of your money on me. And I’d get it. Pretty crazy.Each of my colleagues started to outgrow their britches. Segueing from confident to arrogant. Not cutting someone a break if they needed it. I don’t know….I never did it because, well, I wasn’t raised to do that. Then one month, our Trafficking department ran an entire month’s ad campaign for a toothpaste you’ve definitely used but should’ve alternated it with Soap — massive, massive company, with humongous spend and even bigger reputation — anyway, it was the ultimate F-k up and absolutely our fault. And worse, took our people a month to notice. (note: this was early 90’s in E Europe where the media auditing systems weren’t established yet,…hence the delay). Big mistake — v expensive. Downstream supply chain issues, the whole thing. They had every right to demand 100s of 1000s of $$s back.Of course guess who had to go back to the client to deliver the message? Yep, moi. Hardest thing ever. Anyway, somehow, not sure how, I was able to enter and exit that conversation without losing the account and without having to refund them big money. And then they re-upped the next quarter with more than before.Seriously, the only reason why was because I’d been nice all along, hadn’t been a jerk when times were good. It was very humbling to realize this. Also a great relief.My boss told me this: in sales, you don’t get paid well for the times when things go well. We earn our money when we have to pull something out of the fire. Or when nothing’s going and you have to somehow squeeze water from a stone.I learned a lot from that. Anyway, just a long way of saying….that Do Unto Others stuff? It works.

          3. RichardF

            what comes around goes around is one of my mantras

          4. Tereza

            Yeah a few of them used to tell me I was too nice….until that happened. Nice helps you sleep at night. Nice is an insurance policy. And over the long run, nice pays dividends.

          5. Donna Brewington White

            Oh Richard, you’re here. I can go to bed now.

          6. Donna Brewington White


          7. Donna Brewington White

            I don’t trust a relationship until we’ve worked through a disagreement or misunderstanding, including business relationships.I can also say that several business relationships have gone to a whole new level by taking advantage of an opportunity to take the high road. It’s a great investment!

        2. fredwilson

          And that explains the so called angelgate

      4. paramendra

        Fred’s blog is a big part of his arsenal. Message: more people should blog. Small audiences blog work just as good. Maybe you don’t need a 100K feedburner base. Most don’t.

    2. paramendra

      I keep seeing you on Tumblr, my “TV.”

    3. paramendra

      Yeah, let’s see a post on the “global entrepreneur space,” and not just the white part of the world.

  8. andrewwatson

    Connective Tissue is a good way to put it. Applications are evolving into ecosystems.The most useful things are things that can talk to other things. You don’t have to build it all yourself if somebody else already built part of it…

  9. aweissman

    Thanks for the Warner Wolf reference this morning.

    1. Harry DeMott

      come On Andy – go deeper – Amazing Mazer references!

      1. aweissman

        didnt want to date our childhoods DeMott πŸ˜‰

    2. fredwilson

      I did that for my brother in law but I’m so happy that you picked up on itand enjoyed it andy

  10. Duncan Logan

    I like what the web is doing around reputations, I love that restaurants live and die by what people can read online and the fact that it is also now the case for a painter, plumber, Spa etc.As an entrepreneur I would like it to go further, I still come across people hidden away in big companies who need to be outed for the destruction they do or the amazing job they are doing on a daily basis. I am not simply talking about the people who “don’t bother” the ones who don’t turn up to meetings or don’t respond to proposals “they ask for” the ones who say yes because it is easier than saying no but also the ones that go the extra mile to make things work. It would be invaluable to know as a new employer what the world you used to work in thinks of you. LinkedIn with a reputation feedback element. Does it exist?

  11. awaldstein

    JLMI’m there with everything except the value of experience.If that is true coaches, advisors, mentors are only relevant for a subject or product specific experiential perspective. This I don’t believe.Actually I believe the opposite. I think of pairings like Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, Mark Pincus and Bing Gordon and see people with experiental poise and in some cases opposite approaches bringing advantage…at least from an outside point of view.Tech yes…people and experience and wisdom…I think this is a rare case of disagreement between us.

    1. JLM

      No, you are right and my observation was just a bit too broad. I agree completely with you.It is the “life” and “people” things which are valuable for the long term.Nonetheless, even in those things, the deployment of technology subtly impacts those issues also. We do not communicate the same way we did once upon a time.Case in point — the circular evolution of the hand written note. Essential, unnecessary, special.

      1. awaldstein

        Got it…and they are connected sometimes with passions from different generational approaches to a core media.When I watched Bing Gordon, old school intuitive and creative approach to gaming (founder of EA) with Mark Pincus (Zynga) with a data driven approach to social gaming together on stage at TechCrunch, this struck home to me.They both invented a rich present around gaming. Genius solutions to a human need both. That was their core. Approaches were opposite. Together though something new may develop.

        1. JLM

          Wonderful book I am currently carrying around w/ me is The Blue Ocean Strategy. It argues for creating a new paradigm that focuses on creating a “new” industry rather than targeting becoming the “best” of the “old” industry.It is one of those thought provoking ideas which makes you think, gets you to agree intellectually and then drives you crazy deciding how to harness and implement the thinking.What you are describing is an example of exactly that — BG & MP created a “new” blue ocean in which they were not really competing with the old paradigm and industry.I also think this is a bit of the genius of Apple. They are not just creating good technology products but they have created their own blue ocean — one in which “cool” rings the cash register as surely as the performance of the product.Substitute “cult” for “blue ocean” and you are well beyond foreplay w/ Apple.

          1. awaldstein

            I have some international travel coming…I’ll get the book and give it a try.I’ll try Blue Ocean on Apple…but I’ve tried a lot of ways to articulate and honor my wonderment over the magic that Jobs has created. He builds visceral synergies between people and product capabilities that create something new. Never an explanation needed. Just an image. It’s life as fashion empowerment in its most positive meaning.Thanks.

          2. Dave Pinsen

            I’m reading Blue Ocean Strategy now too, on Andy Swan’s suggestion. One of the early examples in the book is the wine brand Yellow Tail.

          3. awaldstein

            You said ‘wine’…hmmm, not a hard sell for me.Know the Yellow Tail brand and doing some work with organic wineries to create communities so relevance is high. Buying the book today.

          4. Dave Pinsen

            Figured that would push you over the tipping point. You, I, and JLM can have a book club discussion about it when we’re all done.________________________________

          5. Donna Brewington White

            So funny, I just commented to Arnold about an AVC book club seeing that five of us just mentioned reading this. Great minds? Well, at least I’d like to flatter myself…

          6. RichardF

            what’s the perception of that brand in the US Arnold? In the UK it’s a reasonably low priced wine

          7. awaldstein

            RichardNot a quality wine by any stretch.Personally I’m very much into artisanal wines (mostly European) with a bent towards organic. I blog on them @ http://arnoldwaldstein.com/….Writing this made me remember that I’m in Vienna in a couple of week with a bunch of European wine bloggers. Now I’m getting excited!

          8. RichardF

            Great place for a meetup. I’ve added your blog to feedly so I’m looking forward to some recommendations!I’ve only sampled Austrian wine when I’ve been there skiing, same with Canadian wine, you don’t see them much outside of their home markets (well not in the UK).hmm….skiing and wine now that’s a thought that get’s me excited

          9. awaldstein

            Rich…hope you like the blog. Been too busy with my business to write out my tasting notes and bottles keep arriving and stacking up.I have regions that I’m infatuated with….The Jura (Poulsards and Trousseaus) and Beaujolais in France, Etna in Sicily and Ribiera Sacra in Spain are my current obsessions.We get a lot of Austrian (and some organic from there) wine here in NY but I haven’t been much of a fan so far. I’m betting that after a few days days tasting I’ll have some new ones to recommend.

          10. Donna Brewington White

            AVC Book Club? I’m dusting off my copy soon.

          11. RichardF

            An AVC book club would be a great idea I think, I’m always looking for great recommendations.

          12. Donna Brewington White

            There might be something to this!

          13. RichardF

            too late for you to start reading now Donna!

          14. Donna Brewington White

            Well, not NOW, Richard. Maybe if I spent less time on AVC I’d actually have time to read a book.I honestly did think earlier that if Richard came on before I logged off, that really would be my signal to sign off. You literally began commenting just as I read the very last comment on the page. Good timing!There’s another Brit on Twitter that used to serve as my reverse alarm clock.G’night! Have a great day!

          15. awaldstein

            I would like to see a way for Disqus to be searched and categorized.Book referrals from your community…makes sense. Skill sets stripped from profiles and searchable…could be useful potentially. Mining the power of the Disqus community is something I do manually all the time and put the info in other places. Books is a case in point.

          16. Matt A. Myers

            Oh, I bought that awhile ago but I only read parts of it – I do that a lot with books, just read the parts relevant for what I’m looking for in the moment.Hm, I wonder how much what I read in that book influenced my current path… Cool. I’ll have to find my copy again and see if I can find any point starters — aside from the whole concept of the book, I mean.

          17. LIAD

            Blue Ocean is a great book. It resonates a little of Clay Chirstensen’s work

          18. Donna Brewington White

            Interesting. That book has been in the dusty stack on my night table for a year now. Was just thinking about starting it.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        “…the circular evolution of the hand written note.”Another one of those “choices” that boomers have — carried from the earlier comment stream. It’s not even in the arsenal for many millennials.

    2. fredwilson

      Such a great point Arnold. The Bing example is perfect

  12. Andrew Greene

    I like the concept of using identity and reputation to add value to other services like a job board. I think stack overflow does this extremely well.I am wondering whether there is a way to leverage the knowledge shared outside of the web service. Somehow tie together my advice on how to found a start up or how to make a pie crust into real life actions. Jobs are a start. But I think there is much potential here.

  13. FlavioGomes

    I’ve been away from AVC for far to long!

    1. ShanaC

      We missed you…

      1. FlavioGomes

        shucks πŸ™‚

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Who are you?(Just kidding.)

      1. FlavioGomes

        I ask the question often but no one special

        1. Donna Brewington White

          “no one special”I seriously doubt this!You’re funny.

  14. Chris Clark

    Your comments on reputation that begin around the 3:50 mark really resonate. I think it will ultimately be reputation based systems like this that close the loop on platforms that have been aiming to disrupt education. There’s a lot of talk about web technologies disrupting classic educational institutions, and many of the services (like Sal Kahn’s Academy about which you recently blogged) are providing quality content. Along with universities like MIT posting their lectures and class materials online, there doesn’t seem to be a lack of quality educational materials.But what has been missing, for better or for worse, is a way to certify that you have actually learned something. Regardless of the knowledge you may have, if you can’t document it and put it on a resume, hiring managers and HR departments won’t care. Your education and qualifications must be documented somewhere.In the past, many have attempted to demonstrate their expertise by blogging about the subject. If you can create a blog with quality content and attract a readership, that’s pretty good documentation that you know what you’re talking about. However the problem with that route it…you have to know how to attract a readership. Marketing your blog and driving traffic is really a separate skill-set and one that someone trying to prove their expertise in, say, project management, may have relatively little interest in.Enter reputation-based social services. Now, if you see on a resume “Attended Sal Kahn’s Academy and became the #1 rated question-answerer on topic xyz on Quora”, that’s worth looking into. Someone soon will come up with a way to not just provide educational materials, but also provide an ecosystem where someone’s credentials can be established and documented. Delivering both those pieces as a unified platform is the key.Regardless of the true quality of the education, a name-brand university diploma will always be more valuable than web-based learning until the web-based systems’ certification carries as much weight as the name-brand reputation.

  15. Evan

    Globalization is huge. But then, since I’m an American living in Buenos Aires to get a more international perspective, it’s not surprising that I’d say that.

    1. JLM

      “Globalization is huge.”You, my friend, have just made history. LOLWell said. It must be great fun to be in BA. I envy you.

      1. Evan

        Springtime right now in BsAs is fantastic, although October weather in Austin was pretty great when I lived there…especially on gameday Saturdays. I always liked going and talking to Earl Campbell…though he never did say very much back. Heh.And hey, JLM, my comment may not have been original, but I think I was repeating verbatim what Fred said.

        1. JLM

          “Globalization is huge.” — Evan”This internet stuff is going to be big.” — Charlie CrystleLOL — I really am smiling as this just tickles funny bone.BTW, the Horns are being humiliated just now.

          1. Evan

            Being a Rice alum, it’s hard for me to get too worked up about UT. Although after they struggled to beat us in the season opener at Reliant, I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to be a good year for them.

          2. Carl Rahn Griffith

            That’s nothing – I recall circa 1982, when I was a JCL-writer, setting-up a (very early) PC for a boss and upon delivering it to his desk I boldly predicted “These things will never catch on” … πŸ™‚

          3. Dave Pinsen

            Heh. You might appreciate this post I wrote on my old blog, which described the old-school way the characters in a short-lived ’80s Sci Fi show hacked into a computer system, “Preoccupied with 1985”.

        2. Donna Brewington White

          Hey Evan — has that baby been born?

          1. Evan

            Couple months left. Mid-Feb. But today we found out it is a girl!Thanks for remembering! That’s impressive.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            Thrilling, Evan! I dearly love my three sons and rejoiced at the birth of each one, but there was a special bliss with the birth of a baby girl.You’ll let us know when she arrives?

  16. Donna Brewington White

    I guess the snide vlog remarks have run out of steam?

  17. ShanaC

    Actually I got a question that’s practical: If globalization and mobile phones are a huge trend- how do we design computer systems that support the infrastructure around these people?Thinking like water in tunnels underground in large cities, considering that the people who build these tunnels make them last like 100 years. How do you design for that?Big computing challenge

  18. calabs

    It kinda sounded like a fashion designer talking about the trends this season (hats & leather, BTW). Are startup investments truly this trend-driven?

  19. paramendra

    Videos add to the mix. Keep them coming.

  20. Charlie Crystle

    hmmm…need a Friday guest post

  21. andyidsinga

    what is this “tape” you speak of πŸ˜‰

  22. FlavioGomes

    Sorry…I think this is a bit off topic ( I wish Fred would have a graffiti wall where I could just post a fleeting thought)…but in any event:I’ve read everything I can about what makes a entrepreneur, CEO or captain of industry. Every thing from a forest of books to speeches that take valuable hours of my lunch time…and to this day the most profound guidance that I can find are in these 5 lines of lyrics and I use them as my internal charter!”I’m not giving in to security under pressureI’m not missing out on the promise of adventureI’m not giving up on implausible dreamsExperience to extremesExperience to extremes”NEP

  23. leigh

    The concept of reputation development by social media rating systems kinda scares me. I see how it works for developers bc by their nature they don’t like ‘media stars’ and it’s pretty hard to hide behind bafflegab and the ‘who you know’ (as in who cares) with all things technical. In other industries however, it’s less straightforward.I think I’ll have to save the rest for a rant. Too little context in a comment post.

  24. Esayas

    Hi Fred,good to hear that you are mentioning that the web is shaped by people from other parts of the world.Having developed an innovative method called LALAFLIA I can explain easily why facebook and google are so successful. This method helps me to come up with infinite revolutionary ideas that can compete easily with the popular websites.Currently I am running a pitch with an investor in Europe and I was wondering if you guys would be interested in world changing ideas too?Best wishes,Esayas

  25. Matt A. Myers

    Thanks. Looking into him.

  26. Matt A. Myers

    There’s a great quote in Making Ideas Happen that resonated with me. I’m not at home right now, but I’ll come back to this post and write it out.