Some New Stuff From USV

Yesterday we kicked off "office hours" for USV. We did it with this post on the USV twitter account. We got 68 responses in a few hours for 32 slots. So we've taken down the signup form (which is why the link in the tweet doesn't work). The first 32 responses will get priority but we will try to accomodate everyone who filled out a form in the coming months.

The idea for office hours comes from our friends at First Round Capital and Foundry Group. Both Josh Kopelman and Brad Feld have written about the benefits of "first come first serve" meetings with no filters and no qualifications. We also believe in a level playing field for all entrepreneurs and have been wanting to do this for a while now.

I'd like to recognize Gary Chou, the General Manager of the USV Network, for his work in getting this going. Gary's got a "can do" attitude and he's been putting together lots of new stuff for us and our portfolio companies since his arrival this summer.

Another new effort from USV courtesy of Gary and Christina is our USV Jobs twitter account. We try to tweet out a job or two every day. We get the feed of job openings from our portfolio company Indeed and then we curate it to highlight interesting jobs in our portfolio companies.

If you are interested in working in one of our portfolio companies and/or meeting with one of us for 15 minutes, I suggest you follow the USV and USV Jobs twitter accounts. Based on yesterday's response to office hours, we need to be doing more stuff like this. And with Gary and Christina's help we will.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. lushfun

    It seems everyone is looking for the non-existing talent trying to approach life in a data-mining way. Perhaps the people are out there. I am getting skeptical of it more and more daily.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Skeptical of talented people existing?

      1. ShanaC

        no living your life purely by the data. I sort of agree on this – data can show you trends, it can’t show the right decision for you

  2. RichardF

    Nice one Fred, I think “office hours” is an excellent idea. I’ve always been in impressed that Brad did that. Here’s to hoping some of the London VC’s follow your example, I know some of them read your blog.

  3. Dan Lewis

    You should try and do a day of service/office hours tie-in, where if an entrepreneur comes to some sort of service activity at a specific time (e.g. “volunteer at ___ soup kitchen during the week of __”) you’ll give them a 20 minute office hours spot.It’s not necessarily better than first come, first served, but it definitely has a different dynamic.

    1. JLM

      How about just three “Hail Marys”, four “Our Fathers”, a novena, two Rosaries and five “Stations of the Cross” for a cause of Fred’s choosing?Or maybe just wash his car?This is a business not a social welfare operation. Sheesh!

      1. ShanaC

        Some businesses are also welfare operations. GothamGal wrote about one, called the Greystone Bakery:…Trying to get corprate good deeds done is a pain- there is nothing wrong with some incentives to do so

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Providing products or services people want, employing people, and paying taxes are all corporate good deeds. They should be recognized as such.

          1. Donna Brewington White


        2. JLM

          Good deeds should be done with personal funds not shareholders money.

      2. Dave Pinsen

        How about throwing in a day or two of fasting and meditation on the sidewalk in front of the USV offices?

  4. William Mougayar

    Great way to keep your deal flow going, and for staying on top of what entrepreneurs are doing and thinking.What do you do when you see something that you won’t invest in, but is of competitive intelligence nature to one of your existing companies?

    1. fredwilson

      i think we’d tell the person we are meeting about that and let themdecide how they want us to handle that

  5. Business Junkie

    Nice – either shows that you really care about your market or that times are just slow. Wish more companies (not just investors) would do this. Might think about doing some of this on a web cast or a two way webinar – where commons questions get answered – thus benefiting more.

  6. Dave Pinsen

    I’m not sure if it had anything to do with your decision to hold office hours, but it’s worth mentioning that Nate Westheimer suggested doing so in the comments here over the summer.

    1. fredwilson

      i recall him doing thatwe’ve been considering it for quite a while

  7. Drp4929-home

    Already oversubscribed? The link says the form is turned off.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      From the first paragraph of Fred’s post,”We got 68 responses in a few hours for 32 slots. So we’ve taken down the signup form (which is why the link in the tweet doesn’t work).”

    2. fredwilson

      yup, that’s what i said in the post

  8. JLM

    I like it.From a pure business point, it is a logical and worthy idea to get a look at more deals over a fixed period of time.It almost seems like you should hire a couple of retired business guys — reformed deal junkies — to make the first screen with a programmed who, what, why, where, how, how much, people matrix.Then you could get rid of the pie plate on the head antenna deals more quickly.

    1. RichardF

      Part of the attraction of office hours is that you get to meet Albert, Brad and Fred in person. Otherwise it becomes like any other VC firm where you meet some low ranked associate.

      1. JLM

        Well played, damn good point!

  9. David Semeria

    I know this may sound cheap, but you need a better filter.First come first served may have an aura of fairness – but it puts chance before value.

    1. Fernando Gutierrez

      First come first served may show really wanting it. If someone is willing to wait for a long time, or check continuously, then he may deserve the attention. I don’t remember the details, but I read about a team in a university (I think it was basketball) that made students who wanted tickets be there for a few days, checking every few hours randomly… if someone does that then you know that person in really in (you also know he’s a bit awkward, but who isn’t?).

      1. David Semeria

        What about a sort of Hot or Not with only the AVC community being allowed to vote.The votes should not be based on a pitch, rather how much a team really wants face time with USV.It’s not perfect, but it seems a bit fairer than being the first to see a tweet.

      2. Alex Murphy

        Fred – you should do a 9 am event on a Thursday and give everyone 1 month’s notice, let people line up at the door and see if anyone will come three or four days early. I bet someone shows up with a generator, a tent, a laptop, and a cot ready to do business for 3 days in the test waiting to get to meet with you.Now that would be dedication.

        1. fredwilson

          we can use tech to avoid that nonsense

    2. Mike

      What about those of us who lack both value and good fortune?

      1. David Semeria

        Join the club Mike.

    3. Dave Pinsen

      The other ~95% of the time, USV probably has plenty of filters at work (referrals from angels and entrepreneurs in their network, etc.). Giving 15 minutes of their time to each of a handful of folks unconnected to their network enhances perceptions of the USV’s accessibility and adds to the firm’s goodwill. If they find an investable idea out of any of these meetings, that would be a bonus.

      1. fredwilson


        1. Dave Pinsen

          Doing well by treating people well — not a bad M.O.OT, but did you ever get a chance to look at the Portfolio Armor iPhone app? I remember you said you needed to borrow someone’s iPhone (your son’s?).

    4. fredwilson

      this is just for office hourswe apply plenty of filters in our business

      1. David Semeria

        That was never in doubt. I was talking specifically about Office Hours.

  10. ShanaC

    I love the twitter job list.

  11. elginthompson

    Understanding the obvious need for confidentiality associated with these 1-on-1s, a general summary of takeaways or lessons learned from the meetings might prove valuable to others.

  12. Mike

    What is more valuable Fred, a cold meeting during office hours or a reference from someone you trust?

    1. fredwilson

      either is fineit’s all about what happens in the meeting

  13. Tom Krieglstein

    You could use a collaborative calendaring tool like so you could block out the “office hours” an then let entrepreneurs sign up without you needed to slot them in. I use it wonderfully for my meetings.

    1. fredwilson

      we’ve tried in the past

  14. NFF

    Curiously, our offer of Office Hours at Nonprofit Finance Fund has not generated such paroxysms of enthusiasm! http://nonprofitfinancefund… Tell your nonprofit friends…