Death To The Use Of Death In A Title

I was asked by the excellent folks at Grind, a co-working space near our offices, to give a talk in their monthly #Rethink breakfast talk series. I am drawn to the idea of a #rethink hashtag. It's a good mental exercise. So I said I would do the talk and that I'd like to #rethink the VC industry.

I gave the talk yesterday and William storified it. And there was some blog coverage of the talk yesterday. I started out the talk by stating that I was "thinking outloud in realtime and that my remarks should be taken as such".

At some point yesterday I see the words "death of the VC business" in my twitter stream with my name attached to it.



I can assure you I never said anything about the "death of the venture capital business" in my talk. The venture capital business is not dying.

My talk was a rumination on the forces at work on the venture capital business today and the changes that may be required to remain relevant and profitable in this new world. The talk was provocative and "out there" but it was not a eulogy.

I expect that Grind will post the talk at some point and everyone can come to their own conclusions.

This post is a plea to bloggers and journalists not to use the word "death" casually. It is a big word, a strong word, it means something real and devastating. And it is a word I would not use lightly.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Dave Winer


    1. bsoist

      I saw your amen earlier and didn’t realize it was you. I still rely on RSS every day – every day! Thanks for that!

      1. dave

        Of course you do — it’s built into the fabric of the network.The people who campaign against RSS are the worst kind of scum. I hope someday to be sitting on the bank of a river watching their bodies float by. :-)(Ancient Chinese proverb.)

        1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

          Please not another death and dead bodies :-).

        2. markslater

          “winer on death”

  2. Jason Crawford

    On a related note, see “The Tragic Death of Practically Everything”, which pokes fun at articles through the years that have reported on the “death” of all kinds of technologies:

    1. fredwilson

      i love it!

    2. bsoist


    3. Pete Griffiths

      Hysterical. Pretty much sums up the current state of death.

    4. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Nice one 🙂

  3. Cam MacRae

    Was J.J. Colao there? Either way, “death” doesn’t appear in his copy, so it’s plausible that some link-baiting sub has indulged in a bit of… well, link-baiting.

      1. Cam MacRae

        We might be getting different geolocated versions, because I’m not seeing it in the copy, only the headline.Forbes is the epitome of mediocrity – I doubt anyone who matters took that headline at face value.

        1. fredwilson

          yeah, that’s what my title says “death to the use of death in a title”

          1. Cam MacRae

            I know. I’m simply suggesting it was set by a sub.

          2. fredwilson

            right. i didn’t call him out in my post because as far as i know he had nothing to do with it.

          3. Robert Holtz

            It’s like “Never say Never”… I thought it was clever of you.As it is, Fred, the term “death” has been so overused and abused it doesn’t have the same currency it used to have. The world is full of hyperbole these days that over time it is actually desensitizing.Whenever someone says the “death” of just about anything, I automatically roll my eyes even if I come to agree with them. In this case, they just blatantly misquoted you. They really should post a retraction to set the record straight once and for all.

        2. Alexander Close

          Other headlines showing on that page. “Everything you need to know about breaking into the tech startup industry” and “Who just made a billion dollars?” – drivel.

  4. bsoist

    “it means something real and devastating” – and that’s precisely why people use it, to sensationalize something.This is why I don’t like people comparing business, sports, and other things to war. They might be hard, but they are NOT war.

    1. fredwilson

      most certainly not

    2. Jonathan Libov

      Well if you measure it by the loss of human life then the “war” metaphor is becoming something of a self-fulfilling prophecy in the NFL

      1. bsoist

        Good point. Right after Junior’s death I read the stat that 8 of the players on the Chargers championship team died before age 45. My 13 yr old daughter replied with “it makes you wonder about the morality of watching football.”

        1. matthughes

          There is still so much uncertainty around that issue.(Including Seau’s death.)Edit: Of the eight deaths, only one is potentially related to head trauma. Other reasons include a plane crash, a car crash, various unrelated health issues and being struck by lightning:…There’s no question there are complex, very serious health issues that need to be addressed.This report that NFL players out-live the general male population doesn’t squash the issue by any means but it certainly casts a shadow over the idea that the NFL (and football) are to blame:

          1. bsoist

            I agree. I was not blaming football, just sharing the thoughts of a 13 year old who was thinking out loud.NFL football has always been important at our house. I signed up for Sunday Ticket in the mid 90s and renewed every year until we got our season tickets. We all root for different teams (long story), and we’ve been known to set up three TVs in one room on Sundays.A young girl growing up with that, and wearing her Texans jersey to church every Sunday, and hearing her dad talk about buying the Jets someday, is bound to be conflicted about all the innuendo and rumor.I am concerned about the effects the game has on players, but the concussion/suicide issue is certainly not an open and shut case – I agree with you on that.

          2. matthughes

            That’s certainly a sharp comment by a 13 year old.The concerns are real and the issue is potentially toxic for the NFL.That’s awesome about Sunday Ticket. I’ve subscribed since 1995. Football is big in my family too. And as I’ve gotten to know several NFL players recently I am pulling for them to implement new safety measures and ensure the game stays vital.I’m hoping technology will play a big role in helping prevent and treat concussions:

          3. bsoist

            I heard about those sensors. Did I see a video about those a while back? If they help, that would be a step in the right direction.

  5. Guest

    Ah, “Death” the one term that strikes fear in all of us humans….Every second of every day there is “death” like in death of an idea, death of a way of doing things….”Out with the old and in with the new” is nothing but “death.”But the term, its kind of like the color “maroon” which if you use to describe a color is sure to ensure that you will never sell one unit….Call it burgundy or wine but never maroon….Call it rebirth, call it change, call it innovation but never call it death….

    1. Matt A. Myers

      You could even call it transition

  6. Ari Massoudi

    Private Equity-Venture Capital business is booming everywhere in the world! Therefore this industry is far from dying!

  7. jason wright

    death and taxes and journalists.

  8. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Some journalists – and many pseudo ones, sadly – love to use emotive language; especially in headlines…

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Sensationalism at its finest

  9. Jonathan Libov

    Can we deprecate “killer” as well (e.g, an iPhone “killer”)?I can hardly recall the last new product/company that merited a “killer” label, and would probably argue that “killing” never really happens anyway, at least not in the way that term suggests (an iterative new product wipes its competitor off the map).Take the iPhone itself, which left many a competitor in its wake. Many Blackberry users of yore are now on iPhones, but did the iPhone “kill” the Blackberry? The Flip camera was killed, but was the iPhone the Flip “killer”? Not really. Likewise, crowdsourcing would never “kill” VC. Disruption is about creating an entirely new paradigm, not “killing” a competitor.

    1. Jonathan Libov

      *crowdfunding (not “crowdsourcing”)

    2. fredwilson


    3. Jack Holt

      Can we work on “deprecate” now that you bring it up? And maybe other techsoteric terms like “parse”, which is so casually misused? Besides, “deprecate” rhymes with…

      1. Jonathan Libov

        Fair enough 🙂

    4. ShanaC

      lets replace “killer” with murderer , maybe people will take words more seriously?

    5. Ciaran

      I think we also ought to create a swear jar for tech-bloggers (cough-Techcrunch) using the word disruption (sorry, but your comment made me think of this).If I have to read one more post about how Uber is ‘disrupting’ taxis, I’ll have to go out on the street and hail down a cab within a couple of minutes so that I can go home and ponder the death of tech journalism.

    6. LE

      Won’t happen.Words matter as they are a succinct ways to communicate an idea that doesn’t have to bear any relationship to reality. It only has to entertain and draw people to a news story.Growing up, the first creative use of words I remember was “sanitation engineer” which was always “garbage man” or “trash man”. The latest is the use of “pink slime” which has resulted in bankruptcy, plant closings and loss of jobs.Words, names and branding are of utmost importance. The sure way to get mention in any news story is to feed the writer the catchy phrase that they can’t resist. I did this back in the bubble days when I would write up and email writers with just enough catchiness to be believable and get mentioned.

      1. Jim Ritchie

        Pink slime is gross though and another attempt by the industrialized food complex to get us to eat crap without us knowing. Heck, I really watch what I eat and had not heard of this BS until earlier this year.

  10. awaldstein

    Agree.As an aside, the syntax of Twitter and blogging in general are sound bite and headline driven, and lend themselves to sound over sense, careless use of words.Shock blogging, driven partially by tech press headlines, may not stoop to the misuse of words as egregious as ‘death’ but stoop they do to sensationalism in a phrase.And it works if attention is the goal. Attention scarcity is a driver even though shock is the wrong approach.

  11. bfeld

    Well said. I think the title of your talk #Rethink Venture Capital has no linkage to the headline that Forbes tossed up. William’s storify (… is excellent an much better than the Forbes article.Your talk corresponded with the release of the Kauffman Foundation report titled “We Have Met the Enemy … And He is Us” which (in their words) “describes how most institutional investors, including larger state pension funds, endowments and foundations, may be shortchanged by their investments in venture capital funds. Over the past decade, public stock markets have outperformed the average venture capital fund and for 15 years, VC funds have failed to return to investors the significant amounts of cash invested, despite high-profile successes, including Google, Groupon and LinkedIn.”…The soundbite headline (that I also saw repeated throughout the day) creates a meme that is totally disconnected from the substance of the message. But that’s the media world we are living in.

      1. bfeld

        I saw it and skimmed it yesterday. My reaction in general to the data was “no new information here” so it’s kind of bizarre / amusing to me to see everyones reactions to it.

        1. fredwilson

          That was the comment i left on felix’ post

        2. JamesHRH

          It a basic power law curve, no? @fredwilson:disqus

          1. bfeld


          2. fredwilson

            I wrote a post a number of years ago suggesting that and some math geeks corrected me. But it sure looks like one to me

          3. Cam MacRae

            Looks like it could approximate a pareto distribution (a power law distribution). Proving it would be difficult, but I think describing it as such aids clear communication of the general idea – after all you’re not writing a bloody paper on it.

        3. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

          One bit of information that was new to me is the extent to which GPs (present company excluded of course) goose up returns early in the life of the fund to raise another fund. Another striking finding was how little transparency there is from GPs to LPs on pay (often, because LPs are not in all funds they don’t know how much GPs make on fees). This is just the picture of agent/principal corruption, which is more than the well-known fact that the top venture funds do very well and the rest do horribly.Felix Salmon had a great writeup here:

          1. fredwilson

            VCs have been playing the markup the fund before the next raise since i got into the business in the mid 80s.

          2. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

            Not everyone has a 30 year career in VC. It was new information to me. 🙂

      2. John Revay

        “This is very much a short-head, long-tail dataset, with the short head having high returns and the long tail being decidedly disappointing”The piece talks about the top 20 or so firms turning out exceptional returns and the balance sub-par returns…….Easy to assume USV as well as other top performing funds are over sold/committed / essentially closed funds – re: fund raising is sending out an email stating you are raising a new fund – and w/ in a month you have firm commitments for the 100% of the raise…..essentially on your terms……So why not break from the 20%/2% structure and see what the market will bear….you may have to break a little from the blue chip LPs (Yale, Harvard, MIT etc.) and take second or third tier LPs.Seems like if most VC firms price at 20%/2% -so there is little or no market effect in the VC biz.

    1. Cam MacRae

      I thought this was the money shot:…(I’d love to attach it, but until attach is implemented a link will do – if you’re link averse, it’s a scatterplot showing that the best performing funds tend to be < $500m)

      1. bfeld

        Yup. This is pretty well known data but I suppose no one talks about it. It’s one of the reasons we always raise exactly the same size fund and have no aspirations to grow in any way – see

        1. PhilipSugar

          That defines a lifestyle business. Ha! 🙂

    2. JamesHRH

      There is a ‘hit’ chasing analogy here ….. to Hollywood.Everyone thinks they can produce a hit, so they think they can be VC or Hollywood producer.

    3. William Mougayar

      Thanks @bfeld:disqus for the compliment. I was very factual with the Storify notes vs. reporters that want to add their own spin and embellish with attention-grabbing titles, especially when they are wrong.

      1. matthughes

        I just checked the Storify William – nicely done.

    4. ShanaC

      does this mean the market is functioning the way it should be (or rather the public markets) since we here complain a lot about SarBox

  12. Jan Schultink

    We, readers are partly guilty. Bloggers and journalists write the headlines that we want to click…I am unsubscribing from more and more of these news sites not to be tempted and then disappointed.

  13. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    What did you do to him or your forefathers do to his?That guy starts with “Fred and the Death of VC” as if you are killing VC industry and ends with “there is always blogging”.But he got what he wanted …you made his day.

    1. Tom Labus

      Great point about making his day.There are a few stories every day that lead “end of GOOG or end of MSFT.”

      1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        Yep and shutting myself up. :-).

  14. kirklove

    Seconded, Thirded, and Fourthed!

  15. John Revay

    FYI – getting errors trying to click through on William piece…503 Service UnavailableNo server is available to handle this request.Chrome Browser on Vista OS

    1. Tom Labus


    2. William Mougayar

      That’s Storify. It happened to me a couple of times.

  16. reece

    so many buzz words, so many sensationalist journalists, so many catchy headlines…people forget that words have serious meaning, and it is often lost without context in our media obsessed world

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Language and flow of language/discussion is at serious odds with reality when you are connected to a mass group or apart of mass structures trying to fit for all that don’t mimic real-life, though there lays opportunity for teaching/learning, if ears are open to listen; You are exposed to it all and no longer able to find the same comfort in your bubble of peer groups you historical would be able to be physically contained together.Mass media becomes noise we must then curate, for our own sake, which then helps the ecosystem as a whole.

  17. Rohan

    As a consequence of evolution, animals that responded to risks or threats survived longer than animals that responded to opportunity. This is a few thousand years of conditioning.. and hence, we naturally click through words like ‘death’ and journalists get that.Anyway, a bit of the positive.. I had a lovely interview with a French Entrepreneur by name Frederic Mazella over the weekend. He is the founder of BlaBlaCar/Covoiturage.Fr) in France, a car sharing community with 2 million members.It was a very enjoyable and inspiring interview. So, I thought I’d share –…And he had a few nice things to say about the idea of VC’s in his company too.. not dead after all. 😉

    1. Rohan

      Aha. My first ever Disqus downvote.First for everything I guess. 🙂

      1. Cam MacRae

        Have 1 back. There have been a couple today – it’s utter nonsense.

        1. Rohan

          You are too kind, Monsieur Macrae. 🙂

  18. Luke Chamberlin

    Breaking: Contrarian VC Fred Wilson Slams The Grind For Shocking Distortions of Truth

    1. kidmercury

      hahhahhaa…..”breaking” is my favorite headline starter

    2. Rohan

      Lol – You can count me as a click through.

      1. Brandon Marker


  19. JamesHRH

    I am sure I read somewhere that the time to buy public equity stock is when a large news magazine declares them to be DEAD.1981 Newsweek cover is the prime example, I think?”Death” is a dilettante, lightweight eye grabber, for sure.And now I feel shame for dissing the Storify stream – I had no idea an AVCer was working so hard to make it happen. As an aside, the Storify stream gave my Safari browser fits!

    1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      Yep 100%.Now considered the King of Indian Liquor industry did the same thing.He bought as much stock of all the liquor manufacturing companies when Indian government banned consumption of alcohol. Everyone sold and he bought at peanut price … he knew the law cannot hold itself for more than 12-months.

  20. yuck

    Death to inane blogs

  21. Ronnie Rendel

    B”H Can someone please explain to me what’s the deal with the #Hashtags? I feel like something big is in it, some sort of mega-taxonomy of ideas, but I don’t understand it’s practical application.@Storify is awesome, signed up today and I can’t wait to see what we can do with it.PPS, “Death” is the prerequisite for “Life”, not it’s consequence. Kabbalah explains that Darkness is the source of Light, not its absence! But I agree it’s used poorly.Moshiach Now!

  22. jstylman

    Queue the Business Insider article… Fred Wilson is a “Death” Killer

    1. fredwilson


      1. fascinated

        I can’t wait! hehe

    2. Adrian Sanders

      Necromancer Ventures?

      1. ShanaC




    3. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

      Getting right on that…

    4. howardlindzon

      Fred killed the death star vc ….working on a script.

      1. Rohan

        May the force be with you, master Lind(z)u.

    5. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam


  23. John@PGISelfDirected

    To tell you the truth, this is the first image that came to my mind when I finished reading this post:

  24. Aaron Klein

    Best linkbait headline I saw yesterday: “Twitter Won’t Give Up Jack Without a Warrant”Of course, it had nothing to do with Dorsey. 🙂

  25. aminTorres

    I had the same reaction. I went to the event, event finished, went back to the office and saw that Forbes article (Twitted by Brad Feld, I think) on my twitter stream. Immediately I thought to my self that I totally missed you calling “Death” of anything.

    1. John Revay

      In all honesty – I am guilty as well1. I attended the event yesterday as well (I had read the Felix Salmon summary of the Kaufman report the night before)2. Saw Brad’s tweet, and clicked through3. And then sent an email to a person I met w/ after Fred’s talk (he is an active VC/PE investor – 3rd generation family office).4. I failed to edit, or explain the link – I am sure this person who did not attend the talk might have come to the same conclusion as the headline – Fred Wilson is predicting the end to traditional VC5. There clearly was no eulogy in Fred’s talk, just an update on the state of VC investing ($30B new money of which 1/2 is being used effectively).6. Fred did a great job summarizing the state of the industry and things that have changed recently – Angel, more overseas money, and then new opportunities w/ crowd funding on the horizon.

    2. fredwilson

      I saw you in the back. Thanks for coming

      1. aminTorres

        My pleasure Fred.I wanted to ask a question yesterday at the end but did not get to unfortunately. Here it is: Does most of what you spoke about yesterday suggests that part of rethinking the vc businesses may lead VCs to start adopting an even more early stage investment approach?I know this does not solve most of the problems you outlined in the talk but until VCs can figure out how to make work the extra 15b you said there is. Or until somehow those extra 15b stop magically coming into the investment stream which you said is likely not to happen.Do you see VC firms investing in deals at a much early stage?Also, does this also suggest that some VCs may even go the incubator route at least to some capacity?

        1. fredwilson

          i think that should be one of their strategies

  26. kidmercury

    death is no big deal! i think it is all just a big conspiracy — nothing really dies, just gets born again and/or crosses over. i view death as the second biggest conspiracy of all (first is that the universe is always conspiring in your favor)i recommend folks check out the storify page william created. fred drops some seriously brutal disses on his peers. i’ve cut and pasted my favorites below:one reason why VCs can’t generate returns? they’re momentum herd investors – “they chase every hot thing” @fredwilson @grindspaces #rethink@fredwilson: “Current situation isn’t helpful. Bad VCs are still getting lots of money.”@fredwilson on corp venture cap: “I think it’s dumb. It’s dumber than dumb. It’s the dumbest.”as for VC, the problems the VC industry is facing is symptomatic of the global economic problems. financial markets will be unstable for all participants (including VCs) until the sovereign debt crisis is resolved and monetary policy is reformed. till then, dividend-issuing companies are where it’s at; even after reform, though, robust capital markets needed for lots of financing rounds are headed east.

    1. fredwilson

      I will pay for those

      1. Matt A. Myers

        They are things they need to hear, and anything that will occur from them hearing it is either anger they are displacing, or they can choose to learn, take it to heart by trying to understand where your statements are coming from; A tough challenge to ask anyone to do who has built their own survival around being an expert on something that is constantly evolving.The harder thing to do is to try to understand, therefore the easier thing to do is to blame others and displace anger, anger being a signal that something is wrong – which most people misinterpret for meaning something is wrong externally, when it could be internal beliefs / value systems created that there exists cognitive dissonance.What is left standing when all of the overfunded or wrongfully-funded stuff dies out will leave some very incredible tools and infrastructure that will prosper.

      2. LE

        Not if you play it right. Important lesson I learned a long time ago. You have to be the crazy driver that other’s watch out for.

      3. LE

        Ref: my comment below. Which is not to say you shouldn’t be loyal to those who deserve it. (Just remember what happened to Joan Rivers when she didn’t pay respect to Johnny Carson.) The pecking order is of utmost importance.

    2. Matt A. Myers

      Death is transition.”Guru is the Creator. Guru is the Sustainer (Love). Guru is the Transformer.”We are all gurus.Re: The universe always conspiring in your favour,It’s the same innate human behaviour of wanting to give control to someone else in order to not take responsibility for your actions.Karma. Karma is action. The fact that you’re alive is a ‘positive’ evolvement forward, positive in the sense that it has advanced something using previous working metrics of life via chaos / chance of happenings, creating something with innately more value, or ability to create or be apart of creation further.

    3. jimmystone

      Ha I like the corp vc quote a lot.

      1. kidmercury

        lol yeah that was great….hopefully we can get a corp VC to jump in on this thread

        1. Jim Ritchie

          As a former corp VC I resemble those comments…ha!

    4. Ronnie Rendel

      “death as the second biggest conspiracy ” you can thank the Primordial Snake for that one, the only thing truly dead is our sense of independent existence, which is a lie, but a necessary one…what Fred seems to be saying is that things are changing, we use the term “disrupt” a lot to mean this shift. VC, like any market, is evolving (crownfunding?), and this evolution inherently includes new opportunity.Here’s to a great community.

  27. William Mougayar

    Indeed. I went, I heard and I Storified. Just the facts. Just what I heard. Nothing else.Interesting that I NEVER thought Fred was even implying the “death” of the VC business. He pinpointed a challenging situation and a number of solutions and evolution points. That’s it.Addendum to the Storify: In the TO DO list towards the end, is missing. The action is to help education with it.And you have even shared your GoogleDocs notes yesterday. That’s the real source and has nothing to do with anything dying

  28. kenberger

    No (undeserved) link love to the Forbes article, well-deserved traffic instead to our own William!And a “killer” post title.

  29. Tom Labus

    Forget these guys. Meaningless.Head to Miami and bring some luck for the Knicks!

  30. Irving Fain

    The one downside to citizen journalism is that inaccurate information can spread quickly and without consequence. Everything in life is a tradeoff, but I’d still take what we have now!

  31. Douglas Crets

    I think people get confused between fragmentation and disruption and death. That, and they have been reading too much of the eroding media mastheads. The more faint the true north voice of media is, the more likely you will get from both well known media and lesser known media the use of hyperbole.

    1. William Mougayar

      Hey Doug. I’m in San Fran. I left you a message on your FS checkin. let’s connect 🙂

      1. Douglas Crets

        will be in SF tonight, and friday. 🙂

    2. jonathan hegranes

      Great point… Just like the death of the web story a few years back. Really more of a fragmentation, but it does sell magazines and clicks.

      1. reaper

        though there will be death to magazines…

      2. Oliver

        Ties in with what @ccrystle:disqus was saying about nuance… Media is converging, tech is converging… In the end it’s one big API that everyone is tapping into.

    3. matthughes

      Awesome.Very well said.

  32. ShanaC

    Death to SEO based titling?

  33. Pete Griffiths

    Yeah. I’m sick of it. Link bait masquerading as analysis. The ‘death’ of the web, the ‘death’ of the PC, the ‘death’ of SQL, the ‘death’ of ‘today’s web development frameworks.’ What a bunch of b/s. The ‘death of the death’? You’ve got my vote. If should be baked into every word processor so that once a journo types it their non-existent PC core dumps.

  34. andyidsinga

    ( ugg topic – disqus on ipad 1 is impossibly slow …didnt used to be this bad )

    1. bsoist

      I saw your comment yesterday and thought to myself “I haven’t noticed that.” Then yesterday afternoon, I couldn’t get my comments to send at all.

  35. J Nicholas Gross

    I agree that “death” is perhaps a bit strong, but isn’t that the whole point of what journalists do – write catchy headlines? And do we really want to promote the dilution of language so much that we end up with bland and meaningless bylines like “Fred Wilson thinks VCs are NOT double plus good” ?

  36. howardlindzon

    can we agree on the ‘death of bankers’ and punch a banker, hug a developer

    1. fredwilson

      i think its better to ignore them

  37. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Fred, you’ve joined the elite ranks of those who will forever be remembered for something they didn’t say. Revel in it 😉

  38. Ujwal Thapa

    Also i would ask people not use “everything” and “nothing” very casually… They come loaded.

  39. Ciaran

    Couldn’t agree more with the sentiment of this post. X is dead (though I have used it once or twice), is generally a pretty lazy way of getting a reaction/pushing something to replace the thing that has supposedly died.When I see it being used, I generally assume that someone is about to try and sell me something.

  40. jkopelman

    Dead on, Fred!

    1. fredwilson

      very funny josh

  41. Dave Pinsen

    If only there were more incentives for journalists to be precise and accurate rather than sloppy and sensationalist.

    1. Max Yoder

      I agree. I’m assuming that a trip back in time would reveal that sensationalism has always managed to win the day, with or without the Internet, for better or worse.

      1. Dave Pinsen

        No doubt.



      1. Dave Pinsen

        There ought to be a niche for precise and accurate reporting. News makers such as Fred could help make it happen. Imagine if they gave all their scoops to a non-sensationalist news outlet? That news outlet would become a go-to read for industry news.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


  42. rudy

    It’s kind of like people using the word ‘hitler’ in any sentence, it NEVER works. I’m amazed that in this day and age people haven’t picked up on that as well. On another note, I sent you an executive summary to your AVC company email after you promised me 5 mins. of your time..I’m wondering if you received it or if you thought that little of the Peashakehouse? Just asking…

  43. Guest

    Fred,I got my taste for media back playing basketball, that was high school and college. I remember one young reporter who was very short, who never would speak to me but he always made it a point to write his articles so they slammed me…Blocked 18 shots in one game and my play was “under par” (yeah, its hard to score points when you find yourself playing defense most of the time and besides, my arm hurt from all the blocking).Scored the last second basket to win by one in three games and not a mention. Oh, but the one game I went into the stands after someone who threw a can at me, he used that to lecture his readers about sportsmanship.I mean this guy followed our every game…..He is now the editor and a few years ago he wanted to write a follow up about what we all were doing now….Yeah right!Then to another town and business….as our business grew and we were doing all these “wild and crazy things” (building daycares and adding them to our benefits offering, self funded insurance, and quite a few other things) I found myself being called upon by both print and television media…..I will tell you that NOT ONCE did they ever get a quote right and the editing was an absolute disaster. I mean they could take an interview and cut and paste and turn my words inside out…..I even sought out help from someone with public relations experience.I won’t even comment on a couple of Healthcare panels I participated in but my wife loves to remind me how stupid I seem to be whenever I am on television….Then we sere selected “Industry Of the Year” and that was the last straw….After that I told the reporters that the next time they would be able to use my name in print or on television would for my obituary….They tried to get me to be interviewed after my dogs won at Westminister for their front page Sunday Lifestyle section and for some 30 minute show on television….I turned them down as I figured the headline would read: “Local Breeder Wins Big and Eats Dog!”

    1. Max Yoder

      All journalism issues aside, it sounds like you have some cool stories to tell.

      1. Guest

        Life can be lived three ways; you can be one who colors between the lines, one who colors outside the lines, or one who flips the page over and colors only on the blank side.Success comes from knowing which one you are more comfortable at and then being awesome at it.You hear “cool stories” and I honestly think my life is rather dull and mundane. I would say that I live my life by coloring outside the lines, yet when I see someone who colors well within the lines or someone who colors well on the blank sheet I think about all the “cool stories” they must have.The only thing that disappoints me are people who do not color enough….

    2. fredwilson

      great comment carl

  44. Max Yoder

    My dad owns a funeral home. His dad once owned that same funeral home. My mother’s father was a funeral director. Don’t use the word death if you don’t have to.

  45. vruz

    As it’s been discussed VCs leading in crowdfunding deals is one possible way forward.But obviously that’s probably not the only possible approach…What about funding coops and “connectives”, in cloudhead’s parlance?Does this sound feasible?Backgrounder:http://cloudhead.headmine.n

  46. JJColao

    I’m the writer whose headline is the subject of this post and discussion, and I’dlike to take a moment to defend myself.First, the headline is my own. While I appreciate that some, including Fred, havealluded to the possibility that an anonymous sub slapped it on without myknowing, that isn’t the case. And I never write a title that I’m not preparedto defend, so here I am.Fred, while you are obviously correct that you never uttered the word “death” in yourtalk, you spoke about a number fundamental forces coming together to compel abig change in the traditional model of venture capital. As you’ve noticed, Inever attributed the word “death” to you. I did use it to sum up (I thinkfairly) what I took to be the overarching theme of your talk – that venturecapital, as we know it, is headed for a serious reckoning. The rest of thepiece is a faithful representation of your comments.I don’t think that anybody who read the article walked away feeling misled ordisappointed that the content of the piece didn’t live up to its title. If thatwere the case, then I don’t think that people like Brad Feld and Paul Kedrosky,people who I respect and admire, would have felt comfortable sharing it ontheir Twitter feeds. In fact, I likely owe it to them that this even caught your attention in the first place. I know that Brad has since criticized the title in the comments below, but I think it’s clear that this wasn’t link bait – the content of the article delivers in terms of what people associate with a “Death of X” headline.You observe that death is “a big word, a strong word” not to be taken lightly and I’moften very sympathetic to defenders of language. But I think that in this context the damage has been done long ago to our conception of the word “death”. If anything, I deserve criticism for being trite, not misleading, as Jason Crawford points out (devastatingly) with this link:….For those of you in the comments section, I can’t respond to you individually via disqus, but I’m happy to engage over e-mail ([email protected]), twitter (@jjcolao),or through the comments sections of my articles – although in that case yourisk supporting my dastardly ways. All I want to get across is that I’m not astranger, not some faceless blogger. I go to the same events that you do, talkto the same people and share many of the same concerns. And when it comes downto it, I prefer dialogue.

    1. JJColao

      It appears I need some practice using disqus. Did not mean to format that in haiku form.



    3. fredwilson

      i appreciate you stopping by and sharing this with us. i also appreciate you taking ownership of the title. of course i disagree with you and think what you did is total bullshit. but i do appreciate you taking ownership of it.

  47. William Mougayar

    So if a Storify stream had more credibility than a Forbes piece, is that the death of mainstream media? Oops I used that word!

    1. JJColao

      William,First of all, we met at the event. We even exchanged business cards, at your prompting. It appears your opinion of me has changed.To be cIear, I don’t think my story has any less credibility than your storify stream. If that were the case then it would be a tiny, though perhaps meaningful anecdote supporting your view. If you wanted to tie that to larger forces compelling mainstream media companies to whither, die or otherwise fundamentally change their models, then yes you just might have a headline.

      1. William Mougayar

        J.J., I thought my comment would draw you in, and I enjoyed our quick interaction yesterday. Nothing personal was to be read in my playing on that theme which got some of us spinning at the headline.But I think there is lesson for you, as a young aspiring reporter working for a big powerful media house. You saw the backlash your headline has provided on social and online channels, despite your explanation here. 140 comments here and counting, vs. 5 on Forbes. This is where the conversation is.Social and online media are powerful today- as powerful and influential if not more than traditional media was. Traditional media still has a lot of eyeballs and attention, and you have a responsibility to use it properly.Maybe it wasn’t your choice to have chosen a provocative headline. The fact is that it was misleading to the uninformed reader.

        1. JJColao

          The lesson you point out about where the conversation is a good one, not lost on me. And of course I agree that social and online media are as powerful as traditional media.The accusation that I’m not responsibly using my role as a traditional media reporter I think is baseless however, as I’ve pointed out. I absolutely stand by the headline (which was my choice) if you’re criticizing it as misleading. Call me trite and I’m much more sympathetic.To be frank I’m confused by your comments here. Did you see my earlier defense as posted below?

          1. William Mougayar

            Yes, I saw your comment. It was trite I agree and misleading. As several other commenters have pointed out, change and evolution are not “death”.I wrongly assumed that an editor might have suggested the use of that word.

  48. Jim Ritchie

    <rant> I’d like to put to “death” the overuse of the word “war”. I don’t watch much TV, but how many TV shows use the word war? Storage Wars, Junkyard Wars, and Cupcake Wars…come on people. Talk about trivializing a very serious subject with major impacts on individuals and families. I’m a big supporter of the Wounded Warrior Project so have seen the impacts first hand. </rant>



  50. David Cohen

    Tech, Marketing, SEO, and VC writers have been addicted to using the word ‘death’ in their headlines the past few months. Let’s stop giving them clicks and pageviews and they’ll stop crapping on the internet.

  51. panterosa,

    At art school years ago, it was declared, yet again, that painting was ‘dead’.It seems painting is often declared dead, and it was certainly looking sickly in the face of new and interactive media art. Yet 20 years later, I note that painting is miraculously ‘alive’, in the broader sense, and through my many painter friends’ consistently solid work. Most of these painters live on painting alone, having quit their day jobs. Go figure.

  52. Brad Dickason

    Grind is in the same space as the Shapeways office. A bunch of people were wondering why it was so crowded on that floor until we noticed people tweeting about your talk 😀

    1. fredwilson

      cool space. cool building. messed up lobby.

  53. paramendra

    That is how they sell papers.

  54. Venture Capital Partners

    Great . Thanks ! 🙂

  55. bsoist

    Absolutely. I was just listening yesterday to Gruber’s thoughts on Samsung’s 26% of the phone market. He mentioned that so many people focus on the second place finish (to Apple’s 73%) that they miss that 26% of that market is enormous!

  56. Tom Labus

    Tell that to the cable news guys!

  57. Brandon Marker

    Charlie, I feel like my generation is all about that. I have actually been working very hard on that exact concept. Sensationalism is every day, all day.

  58. gorbachev

    When I immigrated to the US (no, not from a Soviet bloc country), the American obsession about winning was one of the first things I noticed that bothered me.It’s everywhere in our society, from sports (the rest of the world thinks ties are a-ok, we have overtimes on everything), to education, to business.Try and teach your kids that it’s ok, if you’re not the best in everything that you do, when everywhere they look it’s all about being first, best, wealthiest, tallest, prettiest or otherwise better than anyone else. It’s ridiculous.

  59. jason wright

    The media lens is very distorting. The world is a real and different place.

  60. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    yes… so is 20000th place.



  62. gorbachev

    If Apple had 26% of something, Gruber would spin that to be a HUGE win.Fanboys are funny that way.

  63. Dave Pinsen

    the rest of the world thinks ties are a-ok, we have overtimes on everythingTies tend to be OK during the regular season, but not in playoffs (depending on the sport). The rest of the world wants winners too, when it gets to their equivalent of the playoffs. There’s one winner of the World Cup, for example.

  64. bsoist

    No doubt he’s a fanboy, and I know what you mean about his spin on it, but to be fair, he *was* spinning it as a huge win for Samsung.