An Appearance On The Digital Age

Jim Zirin is an accomplished trial lawyer who, when he reached his law firm's mandatory retirement age, made a career shift and became a television talk show host. His show, The Digital Age, is about how technology is changing the world and it runs on NYC's very own cable channel WNYE, channel 25 in New York City.

Jim asked me to come out to Brooklyn last week, to Westinghouse High School, where New York City has a TV studio and talk to him about venture capital, Kickstarter, and Twitter. I did that earlier this week and here is our discussion. It's a 30 minute show and it will run on TV sometime this fall.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Zeaun Zarrieff

    Fred,Good perspectives, and a great interview.  I’m glad to see a VC who “gets” technology the way you seem to.  Kudos on your success.

  2. Jason H

    Great video so far! I’m watching at work. I think I learn an equal amount about the tech startup/venture world/and beyond! as I do commercial real estate on a daily basis, thanks to avc blog! Thanks Fred.

  3. Ajay Mehta

    Great intro to the VC business and terms. It’s weird to think about how niche some of these things are when we spend most of our days & reading fully immersed in such topics and technicalities. I think I’ll link this to my mom :)And it was filmed in a BK high school? That’s awesome. 

  4. kenberger

    The first AVC post to come out this late in the day.Such action makes readers guess holding back another post announcing a new investment !

    1. fredwilson

      i took a day off today to be honest but this just came out so i wanted to get it onto AVC

  5. NicolasVDB

    You say you invest in “large networks with engaged audience”. These days, do you have a threshold or rule of thumb to decide if a start-up is going to get there (like 100K or 1M UVs) or do you rely on your intuition?

    1. fredwilson

      intuition mostly

      1. saranyan

        The intuition is needed for deciding how big an already large network could grow to, right? You have to first get somewhere with the idea/company and build a user base. Yes?

  6. Dale Allyn

    Well done, Fred (as your interviews always are). Soon we’ll be seeing you in feature-length films. 😉

  7. richallensf

    It’s like Fred was magically transported back to the 1970s!  I was waiting for Roger Grimsby to make an appearance.  Great interview.

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, the studio was like from the 40s

      1. richallensf

        The juxtaposition of old school-new school is perfect.  I would pay to see Jim interview Chris Dixon … or the other way around.  Mark Suster too.

  8. peteski

    Great stuff. Two cool cats.

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, i really like Jim

  9. William Mougayar

    Weird why can’t I play it on the iPhone, even if I cut and paste the URL in YouTube.”Video cannot be played on mobile”Google or Apple to blame?

    1. fredwilson

      no idea

    2. EmilSt

      I can play it on my iPhone.

      1. William Mougayar

        Just by hitting the youtube video from the post or from YouTube itself?

        1. EmilSt

          Just by hitting the post

  10. saranyan

    This is really awesome. A great lesson for entrepreneurs is to keep running towards creating deep user engagement and building the business and eventually USV will spot you if you are making enough ripples. 🙂 Loved it.Another nice lesson to think about is at the end – how you give a return to people who give a part of themselves to you.

    1. fredwilson

      by continuing to make the service better and better

  11. ShanaC

    How do you feel about mandatory retirement ages, particularly in tech?Do you think there is a point where people should scale back/do something different?  I’m thinking about my own parents – still doing tech things, and they’re definitely older than you.  I also know that the fact that they continue doing tech is a bit rare – should it be this way?

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t like mandatory retirement

      1. PhilipSugar

        In pyramid structures, I think you have to have term limits/mandatory retirement.It doesn’t mean you have to stop working it means you only get so much time at the top of the pyramid.  Then you have to start anew.By definition the way things work at consulting/legal/government/church organizations is that the people the bottom of the pyramid pay dues and the people at the top reap rewards.If somebody at the bottom can make more than the person on the top (I try to do this, no manager ever has made more than the top producer), if you don’t cull the top by mandate you get decay as the best sit waiting while the top tries to hold on.

        1. fredwilson

          Interesting points

        2. Luke Chamberlin

          If you have decay at the top then that’s a performance issue and should be addressed as such.Mandatory retirement age is arbitrary and has nothing to do with performance.

          1. PhilipSugar

            My point is that if you join an organization that has a structure where you are a junior, associate, senior, partner, etc, and that is how you were promoted if you don’t prune the top you, stifle the bottom, the roots by not trimming the top.Start your own organization, do what you want.  Say you have no partnership track, do what you want.Say you have a partnership track, unless you are growing insane, not prune the top, kill the bottom.

          2. Luke Chamberlin

            I see what you are saying. If the promotion structure is time-based (e.g. partner after 8 years) then the retirement structure should be time-based as well.

          3. PhilipSugar

            You nailed it in your point below.  In pyramid structures the top takes a cut from those below.  Those below work like hell and put up with it because they want to get to the top.Nothing evil just an exchange of value.  The problem becomes even if the top is great if there is no chance to move from the bottom, then it does become very dis-heartening at the bottom, when that was the expected exchange of value when you started.There are firms where this doesn’t apply.  For instance Fred very clearly says you are not on a partnership track if I hire you.  Your opportunity is to learn.  Great!  I’ve told Fred I hope he never retires.  I certainly will not.  But I did not start at or make a carrer at a firm where I hire young people tell them if they’re great they can move up to the next level.  (actually I did and that’s why I started my own company)

  12. ShanaC

    Also, random, I can’t add it to boxee 🙁

  13. Steve Hallock

    Really solid interview.  I find it takes a lot of practice to give good, clear, concise answers like that – you made it look easy.Also a good trick at the end to skirt around the cutesy “give us this answer in 140 characters” question.  I routinely, in interviews, answer the question I want them to ask rather than getting tripped up in the actual query.Have a great weekend everyone!

  14. Eunice Apia

    I want to be a part of Josh Harris’s project if it’s a paying gig. I used to work for free until I hit 29 and realized that time is money. I’ve never seen the movie “ED TV”, but I’m assuming it’s going to be another “Living in Public” for the new generation?I think my life is a little interesting. I have enough back stories to entertain. It will be like therapy. When he’s looking for applicants, please put up a post about it.

  15. Jan Schultink

    “Sometime this fall”That’s a long time in the digital age. Time might have caught up with some of your statements by then 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      that’s sure. another reason why i’m glad they posted it to youtube right away

  16. William Mougayar

    That’s a great interview. I like the relaxed style.  But I’m not sure that Google+ is serious competition to Twitter. In my opinion, Twitter is irreplaceable, inimitable and unmoveable. I think the jury is still out on Google+. Google should focus more on integrating social search & good analytics from it.

    1. fredwilson

      only the paranoid survive!

      1. William Mougayar

        True!JB has a mouthful for Twitter on his blog…

  17. Guest

    That is a cool career change. Love it; person after my own heart.

  18. jason wright

    This was like watching BBC2… in 1975 – great nostalgia factor. The wily old bird and the Young Turk dancing around each other. Enjoyable to watch.The essential difference I think between FB and Twitter is that the former is about people you already know personally and the latter is about people you generally don’t.There are no short cuts. 280,000 readers BECAUSE it’s every day for eight years, and  just like building a business. Coincidental? I don’t think so. The ‘I say it,…because I do it’ school of no bs. So true.

  19. Jeremy Campbell

    Always love listening to you speak Fred! Looking forward to your companies IPO’s in the years ahead, very exciting! 

  20. Christian 

    Didn’t Jim he’s great! Thanks to share