A Day To Remember

Yesterday was a fantastic day.

I started out with a breakfast with an entrepreneur who is going to launch the web and mobile app he and his team have been building in the coming weeks. The excitement on his face was infectious.

Then I went to the kickoff board meeting for a new investment our firm made. The company is growing fast, the service has serious traction. Growing pains and big plans vied for everyone's attention.

Then I went to another board meeting for a company that has been around for between four and five years. We provided the initial capital to get it started. The business has grown to the point that all systems are working well, it's a real company with real revenues and profits right around the corner. We talked about the next big strategic moves we are going to make.

Then at 6:30, after back to back board meetings, I went to meet with the fourth of our portfolio companies in a single day. We talked about how to step on the gas wtih a business that is ramping super fast and busting at the seams.

Four portfolio companies. Each at a different stage. Each in a different business. Each with a different team. All doing great things. It's this ability to engage meaningfully with many interesting teams and busineses in a single day that makes the venture capital business the perfect job for me. I love it.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. mikenolan99

    Sounds like a great day – and a good read first thing in the morning.Fred – how about an idea for a post – what can we do to encourage entrepreneurship at a young age?  I’ve been asked to write a paper for the Center for Rural Policy and Development, and am turning to my online resources for ideas.I know your passion for supporting teachers and students – hoping you can share your ideas.Best,Mike

    1. kb

      Mike,One program I like is – BizWorld.org.More programs like that could definitely help.Kerim

      1. mikenolan99

        Looks very cool – I’ll check it out.In Minnesota we have http://www.bestprep.org/ – my son just returned from a week long camp.This year he was CFO – he called to tell me that marketing people were noisy.:)

  2. kb

    Fred:How many boards do you think a VC or super angel can sit on simultaneously and serve effectively? At what point do you think it becomes too much?To be an effective VC, what percent of your time do you find yourself engaging with your portfolio customers versus looking for new ones (hearing/reading pitches, etc.) versus other stuff?

    1. fredwilson

      Conventional wisdom is eight boards is the max. I think you can push it to ten or maybe twelve if some of the boards are more developed businesses that require a lot less attentionI spend most of my time on existing investments because its the part of the business I love. If you do a great job with that the best deals come to you

      1. Robert Holtz

        Congratulations, Fred.  It is a life blessing to be doing what you love… and know it.Reminds me of Warren Buffett’s remark about how he knows he is doing the right thing with his life because every morning he still tap dances to work.Well done indeed.

        1. fredwilson

          i vespa to work most mornings but i do it with joy too

  3. David Semeria

    Sounds like a long day too…

    1. Matt A. Myers

      He does yoga regularly – so he’s got stamina (assuming he’s eating well too). 😉

  4. Coachingnow

    Honestly, you haven’t told us much.  Just a page from your diary, I suppose meant to impress.  What is the reader value?

    1. fredwilson

      None. This is my diary. Its just public

    2. JimHirshfield

      See the manager in the lobby for a refund.

    3. kb

      Coachingnow,For reader value, see below. Fred’s post prompted me to ask a question. Fred’s answer was very helpful for me.Thank you, Fred!kb

    4. Alex Murphy

      “Musings of a VC in NY” … read at your own risk, you just may become excited and want to do something to change the world.

    5. Conrad Ross Schulman

      Are you kidding?!!

  5. JimHirshfield

    Thanks Fred. Great to hear your enthusiasm as others tell us the sky is falling.

  6. Rohan

    Thanks for sharing your day and enthusiasm Fred. Being a VC does sound extremely exciting!

  7. Matt A. Myers

    Thanks for sharing your excitement. 🙂

  8. William Mougayar

    It sounds exciting and stimulating, but what was different in that day from others? Isn’t that what a VC would do when interacting with their portfolio companies? One common theme I sensed is Growth. Growth from your lens might be worthy of post.

    1. fredwilson

      Maybe the title was bad. It wasn’t different than many other days. But a great one nonetheless

      1. William Mougayar

        Ah…Means Good news behind it! Thanks.

  9. Alex Murphy

    Yesterday was a great day!  Somedays you just wake up and smell the sunshine and know that the world is right.

  10. jeff trudeaux

    You missed another key point about yesterday, it was pretty damn near to perfect weather in NYC.  

    1. fredwilson

      Yup. And so is today

  11. JLM

    You know the very best thing about all of this — Congress was on vacation and the ether was not filled to overflowing with their nonsense.  

  12. awaldstein

    Glass more full than empty is the only way to approach every day.Fred…thanks for sharing yours especially after this week of trending gloom talk from markets to economy to start up winter metaphors. In my world, there is also a lot of optimism. Seems like a lot of early stage companies are reaching out to discover their markets, figure out their customer value and smartly come to grips with who they are. Opportune time for companies to get in touch with their marketing DNA.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      We have to soon plan to meet in the next 2 months. 🙂

      1. ShanaC

        wait, are you going to be in NY?

    2. Fernando Gutierrez

      In weeks like the one we are now finishing it’s key to limit news intake. They can be worse than heroin.

      1. awaldstein

        In good times and bad, focus is always the challenge and the answer.For me at least.

      2. Dave Pinsen

        This has been the best week yet for Portfolio Armor, by far. I had been pounding the table about the benefits of hedging for months, but it looks like a lot of people had come-to-Jesus moments about it this week.

        1. Fernando Gutierrez

          Glad to hear that! if they don’t listen now they won’t ever do it.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Thanks, Fernando.

          2. Dave W Baldwin

            Revenge does come to those who wait… maybe a little wicked, but it’s Friday!Congrats Dave and you other guys @awaldstein:disqus and @fernandogutierrez:disqus have a great weekend!

          3. Dave Pinsen

            Revenge isn’t in play here: I feel sorry for those who got soaked. And as for the journalist, I doubt he’s feeling any of the pain of his readers. Thanks for your congrats, though, and I hope you have a great weekend yourself.________________________________

          4. Dave W Baldwin

            Agreed, I didn’t mean revenge via strong interpretation. The overall forward moving strategy is to reach the bigger population, which is your purpose.

        2. awaldstein

          It can take a blackout to make you realize you need to have a flashlight in the house ;)I’m happy for you Dave! BTW…your tweets lately have been useful and informative.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Thanks a lot, Arnold.To use a different metaphor, it’s unfortunate that so many people wait until they’re soaking wet to buy an umbrella.

          2. awaldstein

            True Dave.I don’t know that ‘unfortunate’ captures this. It’s human nature I guess.Interesting marketing challenge for you to become part of smart fiscal investing not just the firehouse that only gets called when the house is burning.

          3. Dave Pinsen

            It is definitely a challenge. I have been tempted to publicly call out one financial journalist in particular, with whom I’ve corresponded since last April. In an e-mail to him in June I wrote, “I have been trying to get the word out about hedging with Portfolio Armor while volatility has been relatively low, and hedging costs have been relatively low too. If current trends continue, the window for that may be starting to close…”That e-mail got another brush off about how he couldn’t get to every worthy story quickly, etc.Earlier this week, I asked him via e-mail, “Not to put too fine a point on this, but how many more market crashes will it take before a tool that helps investors hedge against this sort of market risk is considered newsworthy?”________________________________

          4. awaldstein

            To your point below Dave.Selling the upside of insurance as value and educating  the broader market are both tough.Good news is that you have today’s market as a clear point of reference, you are super articulate and good writer and have friends in the financial world.Hedging is a a hard concept for a lot of people. Great opportunity to demystify it and build a community of discussion around it.If the approach has broad-based appeal (which appears to be your model), then that community you would think should grow around and on top of the product you sell.But..it ain’t easy. Nothing really is of course but this seems to spell opportunity for you.

          5. Dave Pinsen

            Thanks for the kind words, Arnold. Your comments demonstrate why you are in demand as a business consultant — you have a knack for getting to the heart of the challenges involved in different ventures, and the role community building plays in them.________________________________

          6. Dave W Baldwin

            This one is regarding revenge… agreed, I didn’t really mean it too much on the derogatory side at all.

        3. Donna Brewington White

          Good to hear, Dave.There is something to be said for calm, steady persistence and keeping your head. That would be you.

          1. Guest

            BTW, really liked what you had to say about @awaldstein:disqus below but couldn’t reply to the comment. And so true! That one deserved more than a “like.”  

          2. Donna Brewington White

            This is the one little Disqus glitch that I don’t like — deleting a misplaced comment turns it into a “guest” comment and now I can’t even blank it out.  

          3. Dave Pinsen

            Thanks, Donna.________________________________

        4. Donna Brewington White

          BTW, really liked what you had to say about @awaldstein:disqus  below but couldn’t reply to the comment. And so true! That one deserved more than a “like.”

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Try replying via e-mail next time — that seems to be away around the Disqus restriction on nested replies.________________________________

          2. Peter Beddows

            That’s a “closely guarded secret” David that I just shared with Dave Baldwin this morning after he felt short-circuited in his effort to correct a false impression. Don’t let the dogs out! {grin}

    3. fredwilson

      I think its a time to be careful but not fearful in the tech world

      1. awaldstein

        Well said.

      2. JLM

        Like most buy low sell high scenarios, it is the courage to buy low that is always in scant supply in times like this.There is no banking of any kind whatsoever out there and thus if you are making things happen with financial muscle, the returns will be magnified by the lack of capital.This is the worst general small business banking environment I have seen in over 30 years of business which means Cash is not King, it is the Emperor.I am trying to expand like crazy because when the wind shifts, it will be a thing of beauty.  I have lived through several of these cycles — nothing like this — and you look back and say — why the hell didn’t I do whatever.Well, now is the time to act and to act w/ courage.

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          You got it!

        2. Jon Atrides

          JLM, that’s so right. During the boom years one’s competitive advantage is diluted in the general wave of optimism. A fragile or risk-averse economic environment is a window of opportunity for a business to position itself in way so as to best exploit the next surge in market confidence

      3. Peter Beddows

        Concur with all comments added here as well as with your own observation Fred: Perfectly so. We are literally being immersed in “fear” and continual “fear mongering” these days – all of which is completely counter-productive to our greater good as a nation and a people.We are now in great danger of becoming like deer in the headlights and thus distracted and sinking deeper into the morass, making short term, ill-thought out choices with potentially even more serious damaging impact instead of clearly focusing on the real issues and finding creative ways to rise above and benefit from the opportunities that are arising before us.Reminds me of the old saying “T’is difficult to remember the objective is to drain the swamp when you are up to your a… in alligators” but that’s no excuse if we are to come through this time profitably.

  13. EmilSt

    For me one of the main things defining the quality of my life is meeting and ineracting with interesting people. It can be only better when it’s around context you love. Obviously this was such day and I wish you many more. Thank you for the bust of enthusiasm.As futurist Alvin Toffler described in his book “Revolutionary wealth”, the social (not material) capital will define the wealth in the future.

  14. reece

    awesome to see how excited you still get about thisthis game is a rush – gotta love it

  15. Mark

    Sounds like a pretty awesome way to spend your time.I do biomedical research and run a web startup. It’s funny, but the feeling I get when I uncover a new molecular switch, and when people respond to a change on my site is pretty similar. Both require creativity and an evidence-based approach, and in both cases, the results are unambiguous. It’s really rewarding to have creative work that you can put to the test.I imagine that being a VC is all about evidence-based creative decision-making, and of course, very real outcomes.

  16. kiwioconnor

    You might like this blog. It certainly sounds like each of these four start-ups understand the importance of ‘Other People’s Money’… http://bit.ly/p8nWuO 

  17. Jan Schultink

    Reading books like Linchpin by Seth Godin reminds us that 80% of our days should be similar to this one. If not, time to start doing something else.Believe or not, I can actually get a similar high after a day of designing slide decks 🙂

  18. Carl J. Mistlebauer

    I have spent the last two weeks with attorneys and this week I am tied up getting taxes done for 2010…yes, attorneys and CPA’s.Then I read this; I am going to pack up my things, gas up the car, and head to NYC tonight!I imagine that my dog, Uncle Ho, is the only one I could talk into joining me because I think everyone else seems to love being negative and miserable!  

    1. Peter Beddows

      Agreed and understood Carl: Misery loves company.We urgently need a Churchillian or a Rooseveltian type leader to appear before us to get us re-headed back in the direction of national growth while also eliminating the whining and excusing. We need a restoration of faith and commitment in our overall ability to come back and succeed even when all else seems to indicate otherwise.Unfortunately, we appear to be stuck with folks who have long since lost the ability for critical thinking and are stuck in the world of bazaar ideology as if that “magic” is the solution.Hence, I do not see any such rational and inspirational leadership figure or event happening any time soon so be kind to your CPA and Attorney for perhaps they are not enjoying their day half as much as you, Fred or the rest of us.

  19. nickgs

    Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing! 

  20. iamronen

    Sound like great fun :)I remember something of this kind of rush when I was working in tech. Days packed with back to back meetings … felt like I was achieving alot (and maybe in some context I was) but …… then, years later, when I spent time creating with improvisation dancers they astonished me. One of their disciplines is taking 30 minutes to an hour just lying and squirming like babies on the floor … taking time to arrive … shedding life layers and letting life vibrations reside until there is a sense of presence – an ability to sense yourself and then sense and connect with others … and then, and only then work/practice/creation can be approached.By this measure, I never really attended a single meeting when I was flying through back-to-back meetings. Made me wonder … and made me change circumstances in which I meet people!

  21. Dave W Baldwin

    The world is strengthened by those who see the glass half full…  In your case, it looks like yesterday came the thought of needing a bigger glass   ;)Enjoy the weekend!

  22. leigh

    I had a ridiculously great day business wise as well.  I think the fantastic thing about being at the early stages of growing something is that you have no where to go but up.  If i were in a larger company in my field right now, I’d probably be scared shitless worried about clients clawing back on budgets and implications for the staff.  instead, every day is about growth growth growth and my future isn’t dependant on some big multinational with a CEO who makes me fire 10 pple while he still gets his gazillion dollar bonus at the end of the year (as happend to me in the first .com bomb).  It’s all up to me.  ‘Tis a lucky thing in deed.  

  23. LE

     I think this post details very clearly whatbusiness people say (that other’s don’t understand)that it’s not about the money after a certain point.Money is important but once you get enoughthat stops being the motivation. Even though it was the original motivation, right?There are so many jobs you could have been doing in NYCthat would be a grind and it wouldn’t even matterhow much money you were making. And you’d bewatching the clock. Waiting until you could enjoya day off. And you don’t do that because you’re doingsomething you love that you think about every day.How could you do better than that?I know many doctors and lawyers that can’twait until retirement. I know one thatwas working hard so he could retire at55. Forgetting that you are 50 I can’t imagineyou wanting to retire and travel full time and leavethis exciting world you have behind. I mean I wouldn’t.(And I’m the same way with what I do as well…) 

    1. fredwilson


    2. JamesHRH

      LE – my father was a criminal lawyer who worked into his mid-70s. His role model was JJ Robinette, a legendary CDN barrister who appeared before the Supreme Court, regularly, in his 80s.Like many professsionals, Dad dabbled in business. He had lots of great ideas but his lasting business impact, for me, were his 2 philosophies:1) There is no such thing as a little bit dirty (ethics are paramount)2) if you love what you do, it does not feel like workHe would approve of Fred’s career choice.As an aside, I think 50-65 is the key zone for people who love something that is high impact. It takes time to gather the pieces to make an impact, for most of us.

      1. fredwilson

        i love the “no such thing as a little bit dirty”a rule to live your life by

  24. Donna Brewington White

    Thank you for this refreshing “day in the life of” post, Fred.  It is good to be reminded that days like this are still happening in the midst of all the craziness. The sky is still intact after all.  (Deep breath.) 

  25. Rayhan Rafiq Omar

    Fred, you make it sound like your life is so effortless. It would be interesting to hear about the parts of the day when you speak up and really give value to your portfolio companies. Those nuances and stories are what make your blog amazing. Thanks 🙂

  26. ianb

    Does this post mean you’re raising a new fund? 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      does it signal that?