Turning 17 For The Third Time

Tomorrow I turn 51. I like to think of it as turning 17 for the third time.

The first 17 years of my life was my childhood. I'd like to thank my parents for everything they did for me, taught me, and provided for me in those years.

The next 17 years of my life was figuring out how to be an adult. The Gotham Gal, whom I met when I was 19, helped me to figure that out.

The next 17 years were about figuring out how to be a good husband, parent, and venture capitalist. The skills for all three are largely the same. Being there, caring, supporting, listening, constructively criticising, and above all being present in the relationship. I'm still working on those skills and I suppose I will for the rest of my life.

Now I'm on to the next 17 years. I'm not sure what they will bring. But I am sure that it will be fun, interesting, rewarding, thrilling and challenging. I'm looking forward to them.

#Random Posts

Comments (Archived):

  1. Tony Bacigalupo

    Great perspective. Good to know I have a few more years to figure out the adult thing. Happy birthday Fred!

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks Tony

    2. Luke Chamberlin

      Don’t try to be too much of an adult! We need you to keeping fighting the 9-to-5 and the cubicle crowd for us.

  2. Humberto

    the next 17th: grandparenthood, syndicate values and help choices. PLATFORM. “senator”ship. congrats

    1. fredwilson

      Grandparenting seems like a fun experience

      1. LE

        It’s like playing with someone else’s cute puppy and not having to clean up the mess.

        1. fredwilson

          Sounds perfect

  3. Cam MacRae

    Happy birthday, mate!It’s my birthday today, but the division doesn’t work so neatly for me πŸ˜‰

    1. fredwilson

      Happy birthday. I’ve always loved having my birthday in August

      1. Cam MacRae

        hot august nights? not for me unfortunately — it’s ski season.

        1. fredwilson


      2. Donna Brewington White

        I agree. I love being a summer baby even though Autumn is my favorite season. But only recently did it occur to me that as a kid I was always one of the youngest in my class and I wonder how this influenced my development growing up.

        1. fredwilson

          Me too. And always last in line and at the back of class. Youngest and last name in the alphabet for most of my classes

          1. David Semeria

            But AVC nicely positioned at the top of blog rolls, RSS feeds, etc.Look, learn, improve….

          2. fredwilson

            That was not intentional but it is great

          3. CJ

            Same here – must be a mark of exceptional people!

          4. Donna Brewington White

            As a “B” I was often near the front, but being so small was usually among the last picked for teams. I am very grateful for deep-rooted optimism (for which I can take no credit) or I would have been sunk.

        2. Nick Grossman

          Funny, we were just talking about this today. Both of our kids are summer babies (june and august) — and we were wondering what that will be like once they start school. In particular, our son is small for his age, so he’ll likely be the smallest as well as the youngest forever (but he’s charming, handsome, a great athlete, perfect, etc etc etc so we’re not that worried :). But it is good to hear that people like being summer babies.

      3. PhilipSugar

        Me too. We always went on vacation for my birthday.

      4. Ruth BT

        Happy Birthday Fred. I agree, there is something about an August birthday – even though here it is “winter”. I look forward to one day celebrating by the beach and actually experiencing a hot August!

        1. fredwilson

          You should. Its great

    2. Rohan

      Happy birthday Cam! πŸ™‚

      1. Cam MacRae

        Thanks mate!

    3. kidmercury

      happy birthday cam!

      1. Cam MacRae

        cheers, kid!

    4. Max Yoder

      Happy birthday to you!

      1. Cam MacRae

        thanks max!

    5. William Mougayar

      Best wishes Cam! Great knowing you via AVC.

      1. Cam MacRae

        You too William, and thanks!

    6. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      happy birthday to you as well!!

      1. Cam MacRae

        thanks mate!

    7. Cam MacRae

      Crikey! I didn’t mean to highjack @fredwilson:disqus’s thread. It’s rolled over to the 20th here, so it’s not my birthday any more… but it is Fred’s!Thanks one and all πŸ™‚

      1. fredwilson

        Time travel

    8. Donna Brewington White

      Happy Birthday, Cam! It does not surprise me that you have the same birthday as my brother. Since he arrived just a few days before my 7th birthday, I thought he was a birthday present.You are a good mate, Cam, even if for me it is online and across an ocean. Have a wonderful day!

      1. Cam MacRae

        Awwww! Sweet of you to say Donna. Thank you, and happy birthday to you too! 21, no doubt πŸ˜‰

    9. andyidsinga

      hey happy birthday Cam!

      1. Cam MacRae

        cheers Andy!

    10. awaldstein

      Have a great on Cam!

      1. Cam MacRae

        Thanks Arnold!

    11. ShanaC

      happy birthday, now get out of here and go get a really good drink somewhere

      1. Cam MacRae

        Thanks Shana. I’m deferring that drink until Friday πŸ™‚

    12. Dale Allyn

      Hey, Happy Birthday, Cam!

      1. Cam MacRae

        Cheers Dale!

    13. JLM

      .Happy Birthday and many more.JLM.

      1. Cam MacRae

        Thank you @JLM.

    14. Ruth BT

      Happy birthday for yesterday Cam!

      1. Cam MacRae

        Thanks Ruth! I was going to say that you’re up early, but I realise that I’m up late πŸ˜›

    15. RichardF

      Happy birthday cam!

      1. Cam MacRae

        Diolch yn fawr iawn, Richard!

  4. David Semeria

    This is also the last year someone can say “Wilson’s not a full deck”.

    1. fredwilson

      Unless you are playing hearts with only three players

  5. kirklove

    Happy Birthday you big kid, you.

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks Kirk

  6. Ivan Vecchiato

    I wish you a happy birthday in advance, Fred.And I do this as a friend whom you have never met, if you allow me to, because during your last 17 years you did another thing: you build up relationships like the one in this blog. Thanks to this you enriched my knowledge about so many issues.I wish you the best for the next 17 “fun, interesting, rewarding, thrilling and challenging” years.Ivan

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks and great point about the blog

  7. William Mougayar

    That’s a great way of dividing the years and to reflect accordingly. It’s been equally fun, interesting, rewarding, thrilling and challenging knowing you for the past 3 years.Happy many returns Fred.

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks william

  8. Dan Lewis

    Given where you are right now and where the emerging NYC tech/innovation industry is right now, I think the next 17 years are going to be about you figuring out how to lead the rest of us through what I hope to be exciting times.

    1. fredwilson

      There are plenty of leaders emerging and I am very happy to see that

  9. Rohan

    Onwards and upwards.. Happy birthday in advance Fred! πŸ™‚

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks rohan

  10. Seth Godin

    I’ve never been fond of my birthday, but I’m very fond of yours, Fred. A great post.

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks seth

  11. takingpitches

    This last chapter — bookended by the Netscape and Facebook IPOs – has been exciting in all ways. Happy birthday Fred and hopefully the next chapter is even more exciting!

    1. fredwilson

      Yup. Quite a run.

  12. martin kelly

    great outlook on life – In my head I’m always 21 years of age – happy birthday Fred

    1. fredwilson

      Me too. Maybe 20

  13. kidmercury

    happy birthday! next 17 should be the most exciting for all of us.

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks kid

  14. Tom Labus

    Happy Birthday, Fred.Re capture some child like tendencies for the next 17!

    1. fredwilson


  15. Yalim K. Gerger

    I read this piece today which basically says time moves faster as we grow old. I wonder what your take on this is. Does dividing it to three 17 year parts help in slowing down the time? http://everything2.com/user

    1. fredwilson

      It most certainly moves faster and I am not aware of any techniques to slow it down

      1. Yalim K. Gerger

        Arghhh. According to the article I linked to, one’s life is 50% over at the age of 10. That was the most depressing thing I’ve ever read.

        1. Wavelengths

          Then I guess all of us here have already beaten the odds. Maybe we should do something worthwhile with our good fortune? πŸ™‚

    2. JLM

      .As you get older, time does move faster because it is more filled and less vacant.Only yesterday I was 28 years old..

  16. Max Yoder

    Happy early birthday, Fred. You’re a good man. Thanks for all of your support.

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks Max

  17. Bala

    Advanced Happy Birthday Fred, I think your last 17 years is being transcribed into this blog… I cannot wait to be participate in the next 17 through this blog. You are doing a great service and I know you and Brad Feld are driven by an internal motivation and I hope you can inspire more people to find their voice and inspire others to find theirs.

    1. fredwilson

      Yeah. Among other things this blog is a public diary

  18. mikenolan99

    Happy Birthday… I’ve said it before, I’ve probably read more words written by you than by all but a handful of authors. You’ve done a lot to enrich my life, and the life of my students.

    1. fredwilson

      Teaching is gods work. Thanka for doing it and including my words in the mix

  19. RacerRick

    Happy Birthday. I’ve been saving up money for this year’s Donor’s Choose challenge.

    1. fredwilson

      I have to figure out something new and fun for that

  20. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    Happy birthday Fred. I like your division and I don’t think too many people use 17 as division marker – makes you stand out!!

    1. fredwilson

      Its a prime number

      1. Ellie Kesselman

        Nicely done: Math humor! I smiled despite my usual cynicism.Happy birthday to you. Many happy returns.

        1. fredwilson


      2. panterosa,

        I set all my fonts and graphic measurements in prime numbers. Seems more organic. And isn’t jewish charit given in multiples of 17?Happy birthday.

        1. fredwilson

          Isn’t the magic number in judiasm 18?

          1. panterosa,

            18. For some reason it seems odd that the number is even.

          2. fredwilson

            I agree. Missed opportunity

        2. ShanaC

          multiples of 18 – chai is 18.

  21. BillMcNeely

    Happy Birthday Fred!

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks Bill

      1. BillMcNeely

        I have an interview with Über in Dallas in the AM.

        1. fredwilson

          Excellent. Tell them I said they should hire you!

          1. BillMcNeely

            I will keep you posted.

          2. BillMcNeely

            Looking shaky here Dallas will find out for sure in a few days.

  22. Roger Ellman

    I go for 15 years increments – but then I come from the school where amplifiers are louder when they go to 11 – Happy Birthday!

    1. fredwilson

      Nothing wrong with 11 or 15

  23. Jan Schultink

    We should not lose that “17-end-of-high-school-everything-is-possible-in-life” energy. Most people experience it only once in their life.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s sort of the point of this post. Thanks for picking up on that

  24. Jorge M. Torres

    Happy birthday!Hope the next 17 years of being a husband, parent, investor (and blogger!) are awesome!

    1. fredwilson


  25. Donna Brewington White

    What a great take! As a bit of a late bloomer, I think I’ll use 18.It is always such a pleasure to wish you a happy birthday, Fred. A sort of favorite holiday here at AVC. You and Gotham Gal seem to be great at celebrating. Whether hoopla or quiet, I hope that you have something quite special planned.

    1. fredwilson

      Very quiet this year but surrounded by family

      1. Donna Brewington White

        That is special, indeed. I was trying to wait until tomorrow to actually say Happy Birthday but couldn’t wait. Happy Birthday! So now I get to say it twice.

    2. JamesHRH

      I was thinking of using 27…..& living to 108!

  26. Scott Kurnit

    Awesome post. Have a happy birthday!

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks scott

  27. Iggy Fanlo

    Happy birthday Fred. I like your division. I have a slight variation on it. The first 25 yrs are about you, totally selfish. The next 25 yrs are about learning and sharing. About growing and gaining skills. The next 25 yrs (hopefully not the last) are about giving back, about others, about returning to the world that his given me so much.I wish I had been smart and unselfish enough to pay it forward or to move aggressively to the giving back but I only did it sparingly in the past.

    1. fredwilson

      Great way of thinking about it

  28. Matt A. Myers

    Cheers to that! Happy Birthday πŸ™‚

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks matt

  29. Abhay K

    Happy Birthday Fred!

    1. fredwilson


  30. jmcaddell

    Happy birthday, Fred. I am 50 today and very excited about what the next few years will bring, family-, work-, and learning-wise.

    1. fredwilson

      Happy birthday. A big one!

  31. Emil Sotirov

    Happy Birthday Fred!

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks Emil

  32. andyidsinga

    happy birthday Fred – look forward to seeing bits and pieces of those next 17 though the lens of the avc community and your writing/various other media.Wow… wonder how this will all change in just 5 or 10 years πŸ™‚

    1. fredwilson

      I wonder too

  33. Noah Lackstein

    Happy birthday Fred!

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks noah

  34. Elia Freedman

    Happy birthday, Fred. I have only one hypothesis on aging: keep the mind active and the body healthy and the rest will follow. To another 51 years as fruitful as the first 51!

    1. awaldstein

      Keep the body healthy and the rest will follow.My formula at least.

      1. fredwilson

        A good one

        1. awaldstein

          Fred….Traveling today so Happy Bday!And consider adding the creation of this community to one the accomplishments of the last x years. It’s a rarity and something that touches a lot of people in important ways

          1. Wavelengths


          2. fredwilson

            Yup. I agree

    2. fredwilson

      That would be a long life

  35. Guest

    When you put it that way, it’s nice to think that I still have a couple years left to spend figuring out how to be an adult.

    1. fredwilson

      Well it took me a while

  36. JimHirshfield

    Happy birthday Fred! Here’s to many more. Cheers!

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks Jim

  37. Wavelengths

    Happy birthday, Fred. And thanks so much for being so generous with your wavelengths. Your blog and the conversations here are like anti-aging compounds — keeping the mind exercised.

    1. fredwilson

      I hope so

  38. Ro Gupta

    8/20 is my wife’s and 8/22 my mom’s. Late August has delivered for me in terms of important people in my life.Happy 51 Fred!

    1. fredwilson

      Happy birthday to both of them

    2. Roy

      happy birthday to all!

  39. ShanaC

    Happy 3rd time 17th birthday. May the new round of growing up seem less difficult that the first time, you teenager!

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks shana

      1. ShanaC

        you’re welcome

  40. Dale Allyn

    I look forward to your post describing turning 17 for the 4th time.Happy Birthday, Fred. Cheers!

    1. fredwilson

      That’s a few years away

      1. Dale Allyn

        Yep. 17, by my count. πŸ˜‰ And I have a hunch you’ll still be “blogging” in whatever form is in use then.

  41. Paula Schafer

    Happy Birthday!!

    1. fredwilson


  42. Joe Yevoli

    Congrats, Fred. Happy early birthday!

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks joe

  43. daryn

    Happy Birthday Fred!

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks daryn

  44. dineshn72

    Wow, am revising my opinion about you from a veteran super smart VC to young stud wise beyond what his age indicates ;-)Happy Birthday, Chief!!

    1. fredwilson


  45. Aanarav Sareen

    Happy Birthday, Fred.

    1. fredwilson


  46. markslater

    in the last 17, what were you the best at?oh and best wishes for you b-day.

    1. fredwilson

      Showing up

      1. markslater

        thats a great answer and good words to live by. If nothing else, be present.

        1. fredwilson

          Show up and be present.I might get a tattoo for my 51st

          1. Wavelengths

            Much as I hated the idea of my daughter being “scarred for life,” I was honored when she invited me to hold her hand while she got her first tattoo, on her 18th birthday. The design meant a lot to her, and it was an experience I remember fondly.If your going to do it, you might have someone there to hold your hand!

          2. fredwilson

            I may be too squeemish for it

          3. ShanaC

            when did tattoos become normal in polite society, at least in nyc polite society? everyone seems to have them now

          4. Wavelengths

            Well, I presented all those sorts of arguments to my daughter, but none of it sank in. If you knew her, you’d also know how rare it was for her to ask me to hold her hand … My little Goth-girl challenge!Since then, as you say, tattoos seem to be blossoming in what I thought were the most unlikely places. Sort of like doctors and lawyers riding Harleys on the weekends?BTW, she’s now in a respected profession where her discreet tattoos win her credibility with a whole demographic that otherwise might not approach her.

          5. markslater

            now now fred – embrace your vintage!

  47. jason wright

    The only cat that groups together in common cause.

    1. Wavelengths

      Hah-hah! Yes, Fred is a lion!

      1. fredwilson

        Leo the lion

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          I do love that star sign.I was 52 on August 4 – we had a lovely time in Belfast.Hoping this year to roar more than miaow! πŸ˜‰

  48. JLM

    .Happy Birthday, Fred.You are a lucky guy who by this junction in time has already accomplished enough to have some sense of satisfaction.Personal, mate, family, work, world — you have already left some footprints. Good on you!But, ahhh, now from here on out you are playing with the house’s money, wisdom, experience — let it loose and play with reckless abandon.Beware the “foolishness of 50” wherein men look into the abyss and glimpse their own mortality. It is an illusion.Sand between your toes and salt in your hair..

    1. Wavelengths


      1. JLM

        .Hahaha, bingo, indeed!JLM – the King of Bingo (don’t tell anyone, it shall be our secret).

        1. Wavelengths

          (I’m not telling anyone. That’s why this comment is in parentheses.)

          1. JLM

            .Haha, genuinely……………………………………………….(funny)!.

        2. Donna Brewington White

          Recently saw something on YouTube maybe? You sent a link highlighting your videographer’s work which showed some of your company’s events. I have NEVER seen Bingo like that!

          1. Wavelengths

            Can you repeat the link? My daughter’s in Austin and I told her to check out the Bingo options, based on JLM’s comments.

    2. fredwilson

      Got both today. Thanks JLM. Great advice!

      1. JLM

        .On another note, it is only 13 days to UT v Wyoming. Thirteen days until life begins again in Texas.Sorry off topic. Why?.

        1. fredwilson

          we had jets giants pre-season football last night. the giants looked like super bowl champs. the jets looked like chumps

          1. JLM

            .The Jets really looked weak particularly at QB. I was surprised. The Giants are the real deal.I love the family story of the Clan Manning. What a dynasty.UT plays Ole Miss at Ole Miss this year. A waltz back into time with all that Southern pageantry..

          2. John Revay

            I like that Clan – I think their parents did a nice job

          3. matthughes

            The Jets didn’t get the memo that it was your b-day.Thanks for leading the way in making AVC so terrific.Happy birthday.

          4. fredwilson

            Thanks Matt

      2. John Revay

        We loaded up the mini van and drove up to Newport, RI today, spent the afternoon in the Atlantic

  49. William Mougayar

    A birthday quote …”It takes a long time to grow young” – Pablo Picasso

  50. Jamie Lin

    Happy Birthday, Fred. I just turned my 2nd 17 this year so one full set behind you. And you forgot to mention “inspiring” in your last set. I wouldn’t have been where I am if I hadn’t been reading your blog every day. Thank you for being such an inspiration for everyone.

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks Jamie

  51. Ela Madej

    Happy bday Fred!

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks Ela

  52. laurie kalmanson

    happy birthday, and all the unbirthdays, too

    1. fredwilson


  53. JamesHRH

    Lovely way to look at it.I am in July – always disliked it. We were away & I could not have big parties.Happy Birthday.

    1. fredwilson


  54. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Happy Birthday! C and H x

    1. fredwilson


  55. William Mougayar

    If you could choose to be any one age forever, which one would it be?

    1. fredwilson

      Not sure

      1. William Mougayar

        It’s a tough question. I’ll take 35.

    2. John Revay

      I liked 24

    3. Wavelengths

      A few months before she died, when she was in her eighties, I asked my grandmother how old she was … really. She knew what I meant.She said, “19.”We used to talk nearly every day. Sometimes about nothing, sometimes about everything.I loved that her wisdom that came with the years was always tempered by the internal “fact” that she was still 19. Ready for anything.

      1. William Mougayar

        Great story.

    4. Techman

      I depends really. I guess I would choose when I am in the highest point in my life.

      1. William Mougayar

        Lol. So far?

  56. Robert Thuston

    Happy Birthday Fred

    1. fredwilson


  57. Robert Thuston

    Keep up the good work. Your authenticity continues to wear off on others. I’m most certainly in the learning about growing up phase (at 30). So much so, that the 10 topics I journal about currently “Learning about growing up” is one of them.

  58. Ken

    Cheers Fred! 2.5 17s, so not far from 3 for me. Your words certainly stimulate a pleasant reflective response in me. Thank you for that.

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks Ken

  59. John Revay

    Happy Birthday Fred,I was thinking about this just the other day…I started reading and commenting last year after you and the Gotham Gal turned 50- I was wondering when the actual date was. When is your bride’s birthday?I thought it was neat the way you broke down the three – 17 year buckets….August 19, 2029 – I already marked my calendar when you are turning 17 for the fourth time.

    1. fredwilson

      Aug 20 actually

  60. Pete Griffiths

    It takes a long time to turn a boy into a man.@fred – If you haven’t already read it – this is essential reading. Enjoy.http://www.hbs.edu/research

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks for the link

  61. Dave Pinsen

    Happy Birthday, Fred.

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks Dave

  62. Marjan Ghara

    You are not only “present” in your personal and professional life, you are “present” here online as well for even a larger group and we clearly all very much appreciate it. Thank you for welcoming me to your online community and please accept my best wishes on your birthday.

    1. fredwilson


  63. howardlindzon

    To think…I knew you when you were 45 or turning 22.5 for the second time. Happy Birthday.

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks Howard

  64. Techman

    My birthday was 2 days ago. Seems that everyone has a birthday in August!

    1. William Mougayar

      Happy Birthday Michael!

      1. Techman

        Thanks William.

  65. Aaron Klein

    If everyone looked at their life as an unfolding story, the world would be a more purposeful place.Happy birthday!

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks Aaron

  66. Emily Merkle

    Happy Birthday, Fred.

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks Emily

  67. RichardF

    Happy birthday Fred, have a great one!

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks Richard

  68. Vitomir Jevremovic

    I don’t know you, but by having a conversation here, it almost feels like I do.. so without further delay, Happy Birthday!

    1. fredwilson


  69. Hun Choi

    To a lot more healthy, positive and adventurous 17teens and thanks for countless years of inspiration! Getting closer to the end of my second 17teens…indeed, fresh man in adult life – “being present in the relationship” is the hardest and most rewarding theme.

    1. fredwilson


  70. Daman Bahner

    Happy Birthday!

    1. fredwilson


  71. bfeld

    Awesome. I just posted on your FB wall to make sure to remember that you have 17ness in you for the next year. Then I saw this post. I love how your brain works.

    1. fredwilson


  72. Bryan Thatcher

    Happy Birthday, here is to another great 17!

    1. fredwilson


  73. FlavioGomes

    Enjoy your day Fred. Thank you for all you do for this community.

    1. fredwilson


  74. Marilyn Byrd

    β™ͺβ™«β€’*Β¨*β€’.ΒΈΒΈβ™₯ ΒΈΒΈ.β€’*Β¨*β€’β™«β™ͺ Happy Birthday to you β™ͺβ™«β€’*Β¨*β€’.ΒΈΒΈβ™₯ ΒΈΒΈ.β€’*Β¨*β€’β™«β™ͺ* Hope your havin’ a great day and that the next 17 are your best yet!

    1. fredwilson

      Nice comment!

  75. Aaron Fyke

    I rarely post, but I recently turned 40 and I had a similar “mathematical” approach to looking at things. I was thinking that when I was a kid, time seemed to last forever, but now I find the years are racing by. My theory was that when I was 5 years old, the time from one Christmas to the next was fully 20% of my life (less, if you take into account that I wasn’t that alert for the first few years). Now, however, each year is only a tiny sliver of my existence. At any rate, the amusing analysis is here: http://www.aaronfyke.com.

    1. fredwilson

      time dilation. i like that!

  76. Eunice Apia

    Happy 17th Birthday. May you have 17 more.

    1. fredwilson


  77. Gary Chou

    Happy Birthday, Fred! Here’s to the next 17!

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks Gary

  78. fredwilson

    Thanks Charlie

  79. fredwilson

    I did not know that Arthur Rock was born on aug 20th