Calendar Invite Spam

This is going to be a rant. If you aren't interested, hit the back button now.

I am increasingly being spammed in my calendar. People invite me to things I have no interest in attending by spamming my calendar. And because email is already a challenge to keep up with, I often don't see the email notifications of those calendar spams and they stay in my calendar and the folks I work with on my calendar see them and get confused.

I don't know about all of you, but my online/mobile calendar is sacred. It's my schedule and a number of folks including me and the Gotham Gal work carefully on it to make it accurate, clean, and well organized.

When stuff pops into it that nobody knows anything about, it's a nuisance and not just to me but a bunch of people.

But it gets worse. Last week I got a calendar spam that said "Reply" and the message was "reply to my email now". Now some folks might think that is funny but I did not. First of all, I am not obligated to reply to any unsolicited email. I try like hell to do as best I can with all of those inbound emails, but I've been clear many times here and elsewhere that I can't and won't get to all of them. The idea that someone is using my calendar to get a message to me is annoying and upsetting. And they did themselves no good because all they did was piss me off royally.

So here is a request. If you want me to attend something, please send me an email. We will process that request through any number of ways, including a direct reply from me. If a time and place is agreed upon via email, we will then accept a calendar invite. Otherwise, they are unwanted spam that helps nobody.

I do the same thing with others. I would never and don't send calendar invites without first clearing them via email. I think that's basic decency in action.


Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Agree.The screen of my phone and my calendar are my personal space. It’s not cute nor productive to show up uninvited.

    1. William Mougayar

      Even with a bottle (or two) of wine in hand 🙂 ?

  2. JimHirshfield

    There’s a gCal setting to turn off unaccepted invitations from appearing on your calendar. Problem solved?

    1. William Mougayar

      That’s what I first thought about. Unaccepted invites don’t show in my calendar.

      1. JimHirshfield


    2. fredwilson

      no because then how will i know about the ones i want to accept?

      1. JimHirshfield

        You still get an email invitation…in your email inbox.

        1. fredwilson

          I don’t get to all of my email so that won’t work for me

          1. JimHirshfield

            Filter and Forward to admin asst?

          2. fredwilson

            Arnold said it best above. Tech and filters is not the answer. Respect and manners is

          3. JimHirshfield

            Ideally, yeah.

          4. Farhan Abbasi

            I’m not a tech expert but I refuse to accept that as an answer. There has to be a solution and will be. For example: a tool that that lists all events you’ve been invited on your calendar that you haven’t accepted, shown only to you and admins, not externally. Differentiated by color.Of these, an algorithm that filters out clear spams (like email does), and also suggests certain events as potentially interesting to you based on your behavior, the topic, who else has accepted, whether you’ve accepted in the past, etc.There will be a solution.

          5. Farhan Abbasi

            If we relied on manners for every problem Facebook wouldn’t have, for example, tag review on pics, friend accept notices, etc.

          6. ShanaC

            the problem is google calendar’s alt calendars are not primary – invites always go to primary

          7. Dorian Benkoil

            Fred,heartened to see this call for a non-tech solution to human behavior, if surprised you’re doing so. I hope it works, but have yet to find the answers to changing behavior of the few who ignore social etiquette.

      2. Dave Pinsen

        Is there a feature that only lets those to whom you’ve responded in the past access your calendar? Not a complete solution but might help.

      3. Aaron Klein

        Have your invites go into priority inbox.Fred, your time is the one thing you can’t get back. No one should be able to take up your time without a single affirmative “yes” click from you.

    3. Aaron Klein

      That plus giving the people who you trust to speak for your time direct permissions to add things to your calendar.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Right. But Fred has his ways.

    4. ShanaC

      That is a great idea

  3. pointsnfigures

    agree-what calendar are you using. I use iCal, and sometimes am frustrated with it

  4. William Mougayar

    Have you tried the MobileDay? You could configure it with a separate ecal tied to a secret email for e.g.

    1. awaldstein

      I don’t think technology is the answer.Sure there’s always a way to block whatever.If you are a marketer or salesperson and you think short-cutting earned, opted in attention you are simply wrong.Ending up in my inbox or calendar when I don’t want you there is a guarantee that I’ll never respond.

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        There will always be people who will do that kind of things because sometimes it works.I don’t like it and I don’t aprove it, but most of us are guilty of sometimes giving our time to the most insistent/disgusting just to stop hearing about him.

        1. awaldstein

          Yup….I agree there is an ongoing pandemic of bad marketing.I’ve never responded to anything just to make it go away though.

          1. baba12

            is there any good marketing really? I believe if someone is finding a way to get Mr.Wilson’s attention badly and they find that they are unable to do so, they revert to any and all tactics. Is it right? NO. But in their world view they are saturation bombing and that is all that matters.Mr.Wilson is hoping that they will have a sense of decency, unfortunately he is in for a rude awakening. Sadly people in his position are forced to change their ways or else be tormented by indecent behavior which is only increasing…

          2. awaldstein

            Well said but I simply disagree.There is great marketing being done by people with products working all day every day connecting with their markets.I’d like to think I do it well and I work with clients all the time to find the right way for each of them.No-one could be easier than Fred to get his attention!All you need to do is have an opinion of interest and express it here! It’s the people with no social address on the web that are more difficult.

          3. bsoist

            No-one could be easier than Fred to get his attention!I was shocked how prompt and thorough Fred’s reply was to my first email. I’ve found the same with several other people I thought would be hard to reach.

          4. awaldstein

            Blog communities are amazingly efficient connectors for the strong of opinion and articulate.I’ve made many friends, many business connections and 30+% (approx) of current customers come through them.

          5. PhilipSugar

            This is exactly right.The problem with marketing is this: Everybody thinks they can do it and that if you have a good enough product you don’t need it.Totally wrong. Everybody can do it poorly. If you have a poor product it doesn’t work. The converse is not true.For Sales it might be even worse. People don’t think you need it, and you can’t just ignore bad salespeople like you do marketing.The worst is the confluence of all three. Poor marketing, and a poor product. This means by definition you are going to have poor sales people.

          6. awaldstein

            You know of course there is only violent agreement here from me!Nicely said.

          7. Fernando Gutierrez

            I was not thinking only about marketers. I recently stopped working with someone that, when calling to my cell, if I didn’t pick up, he would keep calling. Once I checked my phone after a meeting and I had seven missed calls, two texts and a whatsapp asking me to call back. Obviously I thought there was some kind of urgency and called back inmediately. There wasn’t. I told him not to call me like it was the end of the world. He kept doing it, so I’ve stopped all relation.This kind of people are hugely selfish. Their message or meeting has to get through because it’s the most important one and they don’t care about anybody else. Avoid.

          8. awaldstein

            Selfish may be the same as stupid in this case.Getting the meeting is never the thing. Getting the meeting on the right terms is.

          9. LE

            “Selfish may be the same as stupid in this case.”Agree with that. Had similar situation as Fernando happen with a sales rep from a commercial real estate service that kept following up and contacting me [1] and I finally had to blow off. I told him the realtor was handling all advertising (they were but I wanted to do additional) and he went away.Many salesman are trained to deal with objections of course. So the only way to get rid of a persistent salesman is not give him anything to rebut. Something so absolute that he goes away. (For example saying “to expensive” will cause the salesman to simply offer a payout or perhaps a lower price. Saying “we are bankrupt” is more absolute.)[1] The only thing worse than a salesman that calls to much is one that doesn’t call at all and has no interest in the sale and that you have to chase. Really hard to drive price down when that happens. Typically, if I really want something, I like the persistent salesman because it’s an opportunity for me to dangle a deal if I just get a better price.

          10. Fernando Gutierrez

            Being bankrupt is quite absolute if you are business. If you are a person I recommend dying. I’ve only had to use it a couple times (realtor and mobile operator), but telling a sales rep that keeps calling that I was my son and that I had recently passed away was quite effective.

      2. Aaron Klein

        See, I’ll let you into my inbox. Send me a well crafted, relevant and personal email and I’ll probably respond.No one gets on my calendar unless I click yes. Time is the only thing I can’t get back.

  5. jason wright

    to be filed under ‘etiquette’ in the avc archives.i don’t quite understanding the mechanics of who did what, but it sounds gauche.

    1. Vineeth Kariappa

      They went to all the trouble to reach Him.

    2. JamesHRH

      I hope ‘gauche’ is making a comeback w the youngun’s.

  6. Guest

    It’s really sad that many of us use technology to make us more connected and accessible to others and yet (some) others overstep the lines of that openness.Mutual consideration and manners matter.

  7. Matt A. Myers

    Side vent, it reminds me of the automatic Twitter “Favouriting spam” because it grabs your attention.If it’s genuine favouriting then upon seeing what the person is about, there’s at least some relevancy and relation – though it’s quite easy to see, and irritating, when it’s an automatic favouriting that’s going on.

  8. BillMcNeely

    Good to know. This is not a proper Hustler technique. It’s a used car salesman technique and I won’t be employing it.

    1. ShanaC

      so what is proper hustler technique then for getting on calendars

      1. LE

        “proper hustler technique then for getting on calendars”In any sales situation [1] the idea would be to find the hot buttons – the things to do or say that you know will interest the person you are trying to sell and hook them. This takes time, effort, and research. Other things also count like building a personal attachment through shared interests or even simple manipulations to build bonds based on “secondary meaning”. I picked up many car waxing customers in high school by letting the “rich guys” brag about what they owned when nobody else cared or would listen. They liked the attention so they liked me and then they referred me to other rich guys who needed cars waxed. (They were “connectors”).You have to be creative and resourceful and be aware that you will not hit 100% of the time and be ok with that. Most people bail to soon from frustration which is actually good for those that don’t.Of course if you are going to simply send a canned “tool” email that starts off with “XYZ event will be the largest bitcoin forum to hit NYC” YMMV. The email must be personal and state why it’s a good idea for Fred to attend the bitcoin event. You have to be drawn in much as a good old style newspaper story draws you in.[1] Because it is a sales situation.

      2. BillMcNeely

        I don’t know but I definitely now know that sending a Google calendar invite in the blind is off limits.

  9. Anne Libby

    When people do this, I wonder if your name pops up on some public list as “invited” to the event.Similar to the annoying Facebook “events.” No, I do not want to attend your Tantric Goddess weekend. Or the gun show.(My group of FB friends is broad and small. And getting smaller. Unfriend.)

    1. Cam MacRae

      Now I wanna come to one of your dinner parties.

      1. ShanaC

        me too. Actually I would prefer to host and feed the lot of you

        1. Anne Libby

          Aww! Thank you.

      2. Anne Libby

        Haha, with @shanacarp’s generous offer to host and feed, let us know the next time you head to NYC.Menu planning could be tough, what with the yoga enthusiasts and the veterans…(and yes, there is some crossover).

    2. Matt A. Myers

      Similarly to groups people add you to?

      1. Anne Libby


  10. Andrew Kennedy

    “This is going to be a rant. If you aren’t interested, hit the back button now.”Number of back buttons clicked after reading this sentence —-> 0

    1. ShanaC


    2. CJ

      I doubled-down and made sure my coffee mug was full.

  11. Lucas Dailey

    I’m shocked there isn’t a simple way to turn off external invites w/ whitelist, yet.Maybe some enterprising person could build such a plugin: auto-delete/reject all from non whitelist.

  12. Startup New Zealand

    People hate to be sold to = Email / People love to buy = Twitter.Can there be something in-between? If email can be made fun & engaging instead of monotonous & taxing maybe there’s a solution to the problem. Email would always be vulnerable to randomness. Maybe its about channelizing the inflow.The one who faces the problem the most knows the most workable solution What do you suggest?

    1. awaldstein

      yes and no–opt in email has and still remains a powerful tool to bring value to self defining interest groups.some products need to be sold, its their nature, like wine ( ). it is just really hard to do online.don’t understand the twitter analogy actually–can you explain?

      1. Startup New Zealand

        Opt-in if definitely food for thought! Would it be a solution if individuals the likes of Fred / Brad create an opt-in handle to filter prospects from the noise and establish a set of rules a. keep it brief (200 characters) b. come to the point and put some skin in the messageOn a personal note I feel the breakthrough would be if email could be engaging & entertaining like Twitter but purposeful & productive. What would go into it requires thought

        1. awaldstein

          Interesting…And funny, as I never really think that solving Fred’s email problems are a market potential.Fred and Brad are so the corner case, It is instructive to figure out but hardly a market test.

          1. Startup New Zealand

            Good point! Nevertheless the problem is quite common, I personally receive approx. 6 random mails in a good week but Fred / Brad face a problem it in epic proportionsThe original idea of the internet was everyone being a message & click away and accessible Technically & theoretically everyone is but the reality is different. I do feel there is a market if someone could contextually plug this rant into a common problem faced by a mass audience

          2. awaldstein

            Of course.Where in New Zealand are you?A good friend lives on Waiheke Island and works with start ups and entrepreneurs in bio and medical fields through (I think) the university there.

          3. Startup New Zealand

            In Wellington!!! Drop you an email? I usually like to put some skin in the message but email does not have that mechanism yet so you would just have to take my work for it & not tag it as spam ha ha

          4. awaldstein

            [email protected] is in NYC this week. Maybe worth connecting you two.

          5. Startup New Zealand

            Thanks! I just sent you a PreMail

        2. Matt A. Myers

          Isn’t this basically the idea behind AngelList – for startups<->investors at least?

          1. Startup New Zealand

            I personally find Angel List snooty (when I last used it) as it simply ties in your existing network contacts but restricts the option to network. If your in the tech space from New Zealand or another part of the world you would get where I am coming form as Angel List is very regional and does not create a level playing field for us but that’s just my opinion it worked amazingly well for a lot of startupsAlso, not everything is about raising money / getting investment there’s a lot more & a mechanism within email would work better

      2. ShanaC

        I don’t think wine needs to be sold. I think an individual wine needs to be sold

        1. awaldstein

          Agree completely. That was my intent.

  13. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Technology and college never teaches decency.when i was in school there used to be 3-hour/week called ‘Moral Class’….It is not there anymore in our country…removed from the curriculum.

  14. btrautsc

    Question for @fredwilson & others:How do you feel about being circumvented for scheduling? I ask because Mark Suster had a post or interview recently where he applauded the hustle of those who could sneak into his calendar by offering cookies or wine or whatever to his admin and somehow getting a time slot?I would be none too happy if this was how I ended up in a meeting – but you guys have exponentially more inbound meeting requests than I do. Just curious…

    1. Joe Wilkinson

      @fredwilson:disqus can obviously answer this better, but until he does I thought I would add my two cents.Specifically I think being able to hustle your way onto a calendar through the persons assistant/admin is completely different than adding yourself through calendar requests. The assistant knows both the schedule, and more importantly that person. They will know when/if the person is open to those type of meetings.

      1. btrautsc

        I agree its different… you definitely have a level of context and your admin is a filter for signal-to-noise… Thanks for your 2 cents JoeI would never cold calendar request someone. I have cold emailed many people (including Fred) with some success. I have been referred or found first points of contact with many admins or gatekeepers, but personally still feel trying to get on a “targets” calendar through them is a weird circumvention.

        1. Joe Wilkinson

          Agreed, it’s always better to go straight to the main person when you can. I think also at the end of the day, it’s up to each person. Fred Wilson may hate it, Mark Suster may prefer it.

        2. Startup New Zealand

          What they need to understand is that even if you get the persons attention you don’t get his / her respect. Legend if you manage to win the persons respect with a ‘cold mail’ I believe it can be done

          1. pointsnfigures

            A person ought to control their own schedule. First, think about what the person on the other side of the table is thinking if you trap them into a meeting?In Chicago, send invites to Portillo’s. At least I’d get a dog and chocolate shake out of the deal. I suppose in NYC if you were going to spam someone, make it an invite to Shake Shack,

          2. Anne Libby

            I can’t resist Portillo’s chocolate cake.

          3. ShanaC

            what is so good about this chocolate cake

          4. Anne Libby

            It’s my birthday cake of choice.

    2. JamesHRH

      Gatekeeper of schedule gets fricasseed if you are a waste of time.Totally acceptable, unless you have deceived the gatekeeper somehow.

    3. Aaron Klein

      The line between hustle and deception may be fine, but there is a line.

      1. btrautsc

        You’re spot on with that.I guess I worry about that empathy in regards to “how would I react if I was sitting in Fred’s office”…If some kid (just like me) shows up one day who I’ve never heard of but he bribed my gatekeeper with a fine wine, am I impressed with the hustle or do I spend the next 30 minutes kind of resenting he or she?Suster explicitly mentions for any entrepreneur to be successful they will have to break through barriers (customer, investor, potential employees) – and learn to not accept ‘no’.

        1. Aaron Klein

          Not accepting no doesn’t mean trickery. Go read “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazi. There are plenty of ways to make it. 🙂

      2. btrautsc

        Also, reminds me of a story the CEO of one of our customers told me.They were a young company a few years ago working to get a prominent customer. The CEO at the time was in sales, and managed to get a call into a high profile target customer and pitched their services. Customer wasn’t interested – company was too small, too young, etc, etc. The sales guy (now CEO) told the customer very frankly they would eventually sign them up and he could call this gentlemen every single day to discuss his problems, their services, and update him on their progress.He made a calendar alert and called this guy every single day.Needless to say, that company is now one of their customers.

        1. Aaron Klein

          I would admire that if he said every few weeks. I’ve done much the same. Every day is a little too close to “desperation” and “stalking” for me.

          1. btrautsc

            I agree. I question how much the story has been shaped to become company legend over time… its a large sales org

      3. PhilipSugar

        There is a line and its easy. Hustle is finding a person at a show and talking to them. Had that happen to me. Great.Deception is calling up the office saying I just was on the cell phone with Phil and it dropped can I get it? Now you pissed off two people, and will never do business.

        1. Aaron Klein

          Exactly. Deception is clearly on the other side of the line.

        2. awaldstein

          And crazy is not crazy when it works;)Back when I was at the top of big companies with the distribution clout to matter, more than once, sales people intentionally ended up in the seat besides me on flights.Most often it grated. More than once it ended up as a deal.

    4. LE

      “by offering cookies or wine or whatever to his admin”A variation of this was used by Sheen character in the first Wall Street movie.In that case Sheen used what I call “trade show familiarity”[1]. He simply kept contacting the receptionist to Michael Douglas character to the point where she felt that she knew him. And by osmosis Douglas knew as well. And he finally gave him a shot.[1] First noticed as a kid when I went with my dad to shows and saw the same people twice a year and noted how I felt as if I knew them when all I ever did was say a few words a few times per year. The frequency and repetition is what causes this effect. So if they had asked me for a favor it wouldn’t have been like a stranger was asking.

    5. ShanaC

      that’s different than using technology. You got through a gatekeeper first

    6. fredwilson

      i fucking hate it.

      1. Guest

        that was my expectation. i would feel the same way.thanks for the reply, fred.

      2. btrautsc

        that was my expectation. i would feel the same way.thanks for the reply, fred.

  15. bsoist

    This reminds me of two things.1. Brad Feld’s recent post on empathy. We all want to try to solve Fred’s problem ( probably as a way to give back for this great community ). Maybe all he needs is for us to agree – “That sucks!”…2. Scoble’s rant about G+ events :)…

    1. bfeld

      I’m with you.THIS SUCKS.And it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

  16. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    On a lighter note…”one of those price you pay for being famous and rich”…

    1. fredwilson


  17. Tom Labus

    This is basic common curtesy and business etiquette which should not have to be taught.It’s also a very bad business decision that immediately eliminates you as a legit business person.

    1. jason wright

      maybe not taught, but clearly some people need to learn.

    2. Matt A. Myers

      If someone is in a state where they will do such a thing then there is something going on. There’s either a) an inability to understand (intelligence based), b) some survival fear driving them to being desperate or blind to empathy – how such behaviour will affect someone else, or c) they haven’t had the experience or support that’s needed to learn it yet, or d) a combination of the above.As frustrating as these are, if you look into them and try to understand them, then you can be compassionate about it – and that doesn’t mean you need to respond to it and not let yourself get angry. I don’t think blaming people for the behaviour is helpful though.I’ve written super long emails to Fred – no idea if he’s read them, he’s read and responded to some stuff. I think at the time I was using Fred as a sounding board – the highest quality sounding board with deep nuanced knowledge every entrepreneur would want / love to have – though I imagine you only get his attention as a sounding board to the fullest once he’s invested. It was practice and learning for me anyhow.I’d never want to be intrusive myself (though realize long emails are intrusive in some manner) because that type of thing would bother me – however if others don’t have that filter then they just won’t – perhaps they’ve never been put in a situation where they are bothered when they don’t want to be, or have just learned coping behaviours to just be able to ignore such intrusions – however when you or Fred cares about engaging with everything in front of him, it’s definitely frustrating that filters that are expected by one aren’t abided by to ones own expectations. I’m sure I have been guilty of this in the past, and I’m sure it will happen again in the future though I’m getting better with it.In conclusion – it’s in my mind, more of a reflection of where someone is at in their business etiquette learning than it is of how they could eventually be. So you have to decide if you want to or have time to be a teacher and be understanding and compassionate – and if you want to support someone at an earlier stage of learning, or if you only have tolerance to deal with fully ripened experienced people. This would be the main difference between serial entrepreneurs vs. firs timers – they would have at least some of this learning, whether timing and appropriateness and communication type to be used.

      1. LE

        “I’ve written super long emails to Fred”I’ve written long emails to Fred in response to questions he’s asked me directly.Recognizing people’s time constraints I try to summarize at the top the key point and then put the further detail below. The detail is optional.Like this:Summary:——————-They said _____ I think ____ my suggestion is ____ (or something like that you get the point)Details:——————(more extensive detail goes here as far as why I came to the conclusion I came to etc.)That way if he wants to know more he can read. If not he can just go with the summary. And note the clear headings.While I like to know the thinking behind what someone is saying, I recognize not everyone needs that or has the time. For example I just need to know the painter thinks “Benjamin Moore” paint is what he wants to use I don’t need to know how he came to that conclusion. Otoh there are things that I want to know the thinking behind. So I am giving Fred (and others that I do this for) the choice without the burden of a long story.As always this depends on the particular situation, person and a host of other factors.One other thing. Several times I’ve noticed something about an AVC investment and have a thought or idea. So I forward to Fred with “fwd to Matt Blumberg” right in the header. Then I launch into the idea or comment. I don’t do this that frequently (it’s not my day job to offer free advice to others) but when something strikes me I react. My point is I make it easy for Fred to decide and act.I don’t obligate him to agree or disagree with what I am suggesting. Fred’s not the only person I do this for. But I actually get more appreciation from Fred than I do my own two sisters (who I’ve offered to pull strings for).

        1. falicon

          9 times out of 10 you can prob. avoid the ‘details’ section and just let the person you are talking with ask ‘why’. Saves everyone time, and I think accomplishes the same thing.My general rule for sending email is:- When I’m cold, emailing someone, focus on short and specific. Quickly get to the ‘what’ or the ‘ask’. Lead as many questions as you can so that the conversation will hopefully continue.- When I’m responding (generally to questions), get to the ‘why’ as quickly as possible. If the why requires multiple things, default to bullet summary points (again let the flow of the conversation pull out the details rather than a full data dump up front)- In all cases, just try to have the imaginary conversation in your head…if you were in front of this person in real life, how would the core conversation flow? Where would you initially pause for reaction? That’s one email.- If you feel *really* compelled to get into the details, then you’ve got the perfect storm for a blog post…it not only helps you think out your details that you can direct someone to, it’s public for more than just one or two to talk about, and acts as a memory record that you can easily point back to in the future [ well assuming you’ve got good blog search of course 😀 ]. That’s a win on many fronts.Anyway – just my lengthy two cent thought donation for the day… 😉

          1. LE

            “9 times out of 10 you can prob. avoid the ‘details’ section and just let the person you are talking with ask ‘why’.”Ah. The devil is in the details (as to why I do this).I am trying to build value. One of the ways I do this is providing detailed answers or at least showing a level of detail that says “wow much work went into this” or “shit he’s got this dead cold”. Because anytime you do something behind the scenes people are unaware of the effort. So I look at it as an advertisement so to speak. Also I”m a fast typist and spit it out from memory and have already done the hard part.Make sense? (Remember, and this is important, I had started with “when Fred asks me” not “when I tell Fred”.) Where Fred=”not just Fred”.

          2. falicon

            Fair points. I concede but feel you are likely the exception and not the rule. 😉

      2. Tom Labus

        That’s asking a lot for someone who is disrupting your life.

    3. LE

      I think the word naive might be better than legit for many of these attempts.Entirely possible that some 15 year old budding entrepreneur might think it’s ok to do this and be legitimate.

      1. PhilipSugar

        No I get this all of the time. I was wondering how it got into his calendar (I have to accept) until Aaron explained.Worse is when you don’t accept it and they call or show up and say I have an appointment. Now they’ve bullshitted you and are shitting on whomever they get a hold of.

        1. The Heasman

          The technique is valid if you position yourself carefully, but saying the words “reply to my email now” is pure disrespect.

          1. PhilipSugar

            Your prospects perception is your reality.You can never win an argument with a prospect.This is not to say the customer is always right, because the end of that sentence is or they are not a customer.So a prospective customer can tell you that they want your product/service for $X in Y days. You can say yes or no.But as you can see from the sentiment here most of us say send us an un-requested invite and you will be blocked. That is your reality, no matter how valid you think the technique might be.

          2. The Heasman

            I definitely agree. I would only push for a calendar invite after there’s been more than a few email exchanges.

      2. Tom Labus

        It’s possible

  18. jason wright

    are you leaving a window open for people to peek in at your deal flow and potential future investments? i doubt the NSA would be interested, but industrial espionage does go on.

    1. Aaron Klein

      No. Google Calendar defaults to keeping your calendar private, but adding invites to it pending your acceptance.

      1. jason wright

        got it. thanks.

  19. falicon

    Agree…but being a 3rd party just hearing the story, I do have to admit that the “reply to email” bit made me chuckle (again only because it didn’t happen to, or involve, me).Also – the back button? Really? That made me chuckle as well…guess you’re funny when you’re mad 🙂

    1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      and that made me LOL.

  20. Kirsten Lambertsen

    That all sounds pretty sucky. I hate the new spamming on LinkedIn. Nothing of value has arrived in my inbox so far. What a bad idea.

    1. Andrew Kennedy

      I completely agree with you. LinkedIn ——> Spam central

      1. Startup New Zealand

        What do you think about InMail on Linkedin? Where a person messaging you has to pay approx. $ 4 It is a cold mail but with some skin in it & a serious proposition not usually to the likes of a spammer

        1. Andrew Kennedy

          my 2 cents = pay to play reduces the severity of the spam a considerable amount, but that it is still spam. hustle is getting someone interested in what you are doing in a way that requires hard work. $4 for access feels cheap to me.

          1. Startup New Zealand

            Point taken & I am a big believer in hustle nevertheless there has to be some logical precedence. There are a number of folks who fly from New York to San Fransisco (spend at least $ 400) to a conference for a particular speaker simply to exchange a card and then follow up with an email & sometimes the crowd takes away that window too. We are trying to automate things are not we. At the end of the day irrespective of how hard we hustle the interest in it proposition wont change so there is a balance to be maintained. Nevertheless they has to be a way in between I dont agree Linkedin making money off someone else accessibility

    2. Anne Libby

      And it’s emotionally unintelligent spam, even worse. They send me things that I’m clearly not interested in.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        People are paying $4 to message you with irrelevant stuff?

        1. Anne Libby

          I don’t know if they’re paying — some of them are job postings, so maybe?And I routinely hit “unsubscribe” (to @aaronklien’s point elsewhere in comments.). LI seems to pop up every few weeks, maybe their new products supersede my old unsubscribe request?

    3. awaldstein

      Linked in is the most pleasantly wrapped officious spam of them all.Pure spam with a saccharine wrapper. Getting more all the time.

      1. Tracey Jackson

        I’m getting tons of spam on Linkedin – plus I have like 200 people I don’t know asking to be connected I am keeping in holding pen. Then last night I reached out to someone I happen to know, really well, and I was told I my account was now restricted and I had to contact the Linkedin help line. And I pay for the premium. So what is that about? I was so annoyed I refused to contact them.

        1. awaldstein

          I’ve never liked them.Business succes aside, I just never got them.Your comment made me dig up a 3 year old post that I wrote for a client. Kinda quaint but I disliked them even then–

          1. Tracey Jackson

            Good post. Aside from the stock going up I don’t know how much it has changed. On the topic of calendars I actually like theirs. The feed is beyond boring and every time someone moves their desk to another floor is not something I find interesting.

          2. awaldstein

            As much as I find their structure primitive and don’t care for it, my European clients really find the group structure useful for marketing.Just like my personal international wine network just won’t get off of Facebook. Just like my fiancee’s green blend/raw biz selling into gyms/modeling agencies/health cafes is a monster on Instagram.Each of these nets is specific to a segment. Why I don’t use platforms that push the same content across them all. Always feels/ is wrong

          3. Tracey Jackson

            No question for a certain type of business profiling especially abroad it has a place. My 22 year old is glued to it while job hunting.Instagram is fashion central so it makes sense your fiancee would find her gang there. I get no action on Instagram. My photos suck i think. My book stuff gets the most traction on Twitter and Goodreads and my film stuff on Facebook. Even though I have the biggest following on Facebook. More and more i am trying to keep my stuff on my websites and then Share It and leave it alone.

          4. LE

            “My 22 year old is glued to it while job hunting.”Question is why isn’t there a way for you to leverage your network so that someone who knows someone who might have a job for your daughter could get her a good opportunity? There are “connectors” out there. What type of job is she looking for?

          5. Tracey Jackson

            Between you and me and the thousands who follow Fred, I have. She wants to work as a publicist in publishing. And yes, her interviews have all been redflagged by my husband’s and my innumerable connections in publishing and if there is something she gets a leg up. And she is interning for people we have connected her to. But it’s hard out there so it takes time. But she still combs Linkedin to see if anything gets posted there. It might be a reflex for this generation.

          6. awaldstein

            Right on with Instagram.Pier 59 Studios starting carrying lulitonix today. Victoria Secret shoots there. Instagram is a gift to this biz.First Crossfit gym starts soon. We shall see where they aggregate their very very strong community.I’m with you. I pretty well write and push out a couple of channels on a schedule. Email subscriptions for my blogs are honestly the strongest connection.Marketing had me from my very first job when I walked into old Atari and was told to manage their BBS based user group on 1M crazed gamers. A dream I’m still kinda living.

          7. LE

            “Just like my fiancee’s green blend/raw biz”Wow just figured out who that was (didn’t know you were engaged) congratulations.

          8. awaldstein

            Thank you!

          9. LE

            She’s really attractive. I thought that back when I first checked out the page when I looked at lulitonix.comShe looks quite a bit younger than you are [1]. Quite a bit. And obviously in great shape.[1] Which is not the same as saying “how you look” because you look younger than the age I know you are (just like I do).

          10. ShanaC

            mazel tov on the engagement

        2. LE

          “plus I have like 200 people I don’t know asking to be connected”Same thing I think I have almost that many. (Actually just checked I have 277 requests).Some of those requests are people trying to build up a fake credential for some other nefarious purpose by the way.Others are people that allow their contact lists to be harvested by linkedin so anyone they send an email to from, say, gmail will get a linkedin invite. (Or something like that off the top I don’t have the exact scenario.)Linkedin could algorithmically flag or block these since they all follow the same pattern of dubious legitimacy

    4. Aaron Klein

      Really easy to get rid of that on LinkedIn. Turn off the emails.A little tougher to turn off your calendar (though you can turn off letting the public add things to it).

    5. LE

      I hate those “endorses” you things. And even the way linked in does the ui makes it hard for the person endorsing to know what they are endorsing for. (But even if that part were right I still hate it).Like you get these “Does Sam Blow know about cocaine” and then a flood of others pop up.

      1. CJ

        No one who has endorsed me recently knows anything about my quality of work. No One. It’s ridiculous. I recommended a former colleague a few years back, wrote a long, glowing recommendation letter full of details that highlighted his skillset. I was able to do that because I had worked with him directly for years. When I see a new endorsement from a friend, it’s like dude, you don’t even know what I do at work, only what I tell you. How can you even endorse me for Project Management? I don’t manage projects! LOL Useless functionality.

        1. LE

          Exactly.The lack of real life experience and insight as well as naivety regarding human nature of the team that implement that (and the exec that approved) is breathtaking to say the least. Rivals the people who setup that “gasoline for storm victims” that didn’t know how that would be gamed and abused.

        2. Andrew Kennedy

          Completely agree with you. It is going to very tough for them to solve this problem. LinkedIn groups are just as useless for me.

        3. PhilipSugar

          What I don’t understand is why do people do it??? Do they expect I’ll do it back??? You expressed my feelings exactly. I have friends endorsing me for all sorts of stuff. If you haven’t worked with me how would you know?

        4. Anne Libby

          Yes, yes, yes.(Also, saw two former colleagues who had written recommendations for one another. Anyone who worked with us would tell you that things didn’t end so well between them.)When looking at a job candidate’s profile, I assign zero value to endorsements and recommendations.

        5. PhilipSugar

          Ok….I found out what the scam on endorsements is. It keeps your activity up which in turn increases your chances of showing up on the top of lists for things like people you may know. I knew there was a reason.

    6. LE

      Separate from my other point here is a recent article in the Wharton Alumni Magazine with Jeff Weiner of Linkedin:https://beacon.wharton.upen…Here is the answer to “how would you describe what you are trying to accomplish at Linkedin?”JEFF WEINER: LinkedIn was founded as a professional graph that connected professionals up to three degrees. However, that’s just the beginning. We actually believe that longer term we’re in a position where we can map the global economy. The points on that map would be all of the economic opportunities in the world, full-time and temporary, all of the skills required to obtain those opportunities and all of the companies offering those opportunities. Lastly, we want to overlay on top of that all of the professionally relevant knowledge that is possessed by those individuals. And then we want to allow capital—intellectual capital, working capital and human capital—to flow on that graph to where it can best be leveraged. In doing so, we believe we can take much of the friction out of those traditional flows and help lift the global economy.What is a professional graph? I never heard that expression. A google search shows he invented that term or at least it’s not in common use. And this “we want to allow capital—intellectual capital, working capital and human capital—to flow on that graph”. (I could go on and on..)Further in answer to “how much does altruism play into those end goals”:WEINER: I wouldn’t characterize it as altruism so much as a belief in our vision. Our vision is to create economic opportunity for every professional where a professional is defined more broadly as someone that earns a living from their skill. We can’t think of anything more profoundly important or sustainably valuable to our members than creating economic opportunity for them because it not only improves the quality of their lives, but also the lives of their family members. And they, in turn, can create economic opportunity for others.Why do people feel a need to use bullshit marketing speak in order to sound like what they are doing is oh so important? Have you ever heard Anton Scalia or Sonya Sotemayor interviewed on 60 minutes? Anyone could understand the points they are making without having to give much thought.To bad the cornerstone of this whole effort is inaccurate data regarding the skills that people have.

      1. Andrew Kennedy

        “We actually believe that longer term we’re in a position where we can map the global economy”Oh man. Thanks for posting this. Priceless. We’ve got 200mm members, only 6 billion to go. Plus the mapping of course…

  21. reece

    next thing you know, they’ll wuphf you

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Oh my.

    2. Mark Birch

      That is high quality indeed…definitely TechStars material.

  22. Aaron Klein

    Fred, don’t pass go, don’t collect $200. Go immediately and do what I did: tell Google Calendar to leave invites off your calendar until you accept them.I’ve had this happen to me before and the person made it onto a very short list of mine. I will never do business with someone who doesn’t respect me or my time.You can give USV folks permission to add things to your calendar. There is no way you should allow the public to do so with a simple email.

    1. Bryn Kaufman

      I am surprised Google does not default to leaving these invites off yourcalendar. Seems like most people would want it that way.I have never sent an invite like that, but I would assume that many of the people sending do not realize it goes on your calendar. They probably think it is nothing more than an invite and all you have to do is delete it and no harm done.

      1. CJ

        There was a time when this didn’t happen and so it was convenient for appointments to show on your calendar if you didn’t accept them yet so you wouldn’t miss one even if you missed appointment request. However, now that people take the liberties with your calendar this former convenience is now a nuisance.

      2. The Heasman

        It’s probably to satisfy clients who use google calendar for internal communication.

    2. Tracey Jackson

      I turned off mine as I used to get them and I would freak out thinking I had missed some meeting by omission or just not paying attention. But still every now and then a meeting of my husband’s will be on my calendar and when I ask why he included me he tells me he didn’t. Either Google feels I should be there or the system misfires from time to time.

    3. fredwilson

      i can’t do that Aaron. i don’t accept invites. its too much work. i don’t keep my own calendar and i get too much email and the invites get lost.

      1. Aaron Klein

        Well, then…to me, that’s simple.1. Turn off auto-accept of invites.2. Put in a Gmail filter that forwards all invites to your assistant.I agree with you that this is an issue of respect, but I draw the line at allowing people who don’t subscribe to the same etiquette that I do to mess with my TIME.It’s the only thing I can’t get back.

        1. fredwilson

          she is not in the loop on my private life and i don’t want her to have to be

          1. Techman

            Perhaps get to know your staff a little more personally..and vice versa?

  23. John Revay

    “This is going to be a rant…..”I like a good Fred rant now and then.It seems that this is a Feature of Gmail/Calendar – I use both Google Calendar and Outlook calendar ( it is a long story). It seems to me that meeting requests that come into Outlook need to be accepted by me b/f they are posted/saved to my outlook calendar…whereas in Gmail/Calendar – they go right in – I always thought this was a nice Feature.

  24. LE

    “This is going to be a rant. If you aren’t interested”As I was saying yesterday this is exactly one of the reasons I come here and definitely the type of post I like to read.

  25. Pete Griffiths

    Agreed. Not OK.

  26. Scott Sanders

    Somewhere in the settings in both Outlook and the Google ecosystems, there is a way to only allow accepted invites to show up on your calendar. I’ve run into the same issue where invites from unknown people would automatically pop onto my calendar and I turned that “feature” off.

    1. fredwilson

      but i can’t be relied on to accept the invites. i don’t get to all of my email and i get a lot of invites

      1. Scott Sanders

        Well, in that case, rant accepted. 🙂

  27. Semil Shah

    In addition to changing your Google Calendar invite settings, I’m assuming you use Sanebox for Gmail? It’s worth the subscription. There is a black sanebox that will literally make it so you’ll never see email from a specific individual again.

    1. fredwilson

      nope. i tried sanebox in the early days and it was too complicated for me. i don’t use labels.

      1. Semil Shah

        Give it a retry. I only use two Sanebox labels – the normal one and the black box. It’s so good that I can’t not have it now.

  28. CJ

    I’m basic low-level management and I’m getting these in spades now. It seems like this is the new ‘go-to’ for sales guys and it’s really damn annoying.

    1. PhilipSugar

      I agree, I don’t think its just Fred. Its what gives salespeople a bad name.

      1. CJ

        Yeah, it’s the one thing that will automatically earn you a trip to the SPAM filter on one try.

        1. PhilipSugar

          Its one of those things I never understand. It must work sometime. But for the very few times it works it kills you dead on those it doesn’t.Just like pretexting to get my cellphone. You have my cell phone but you can never use it.

          1. LE

            “Just like pretexting to get my cellphone.”You can get a google voice number and put that in front of your cell phone. I use that when I give out my cellphone, say, to anyone that isn’t in the inner sanctum. That way I can also cut them off and they get announced before I pick up. So they call the gv number and it rings me and says the name of the person (they have to give their name) and I can even listen in if they leave a message (and pick up at any time).Doesn’t exactly solve the problem you are addressing but it’s a free way to at least prevent your real cell phone from getting abused in some circumstances.

  29. Shaun Dakin

    Bummer.My go to “app” is Sanebox. It is the single most important “app” that I’ve purchased in the past year. It works and it works better than I could have ever expected.My “invite” is here >…Shaun

  30. TamiMForman

    Huge pet peeve of mine. My other pet peeve, while admittedly less intrusive, is marking an email as “highly important” when it clearly isn’t. (Or, put another way, it’s high importantly to the SENDER but not to the RECIPIENT — that is, me!) Don’t try to prioritize my inbox. I do that very well on my own, thanks.



    1. fredwilson


  32. Sean Hull

    This surely is frustrating, and believe me I sympathize. Personally I don’t have email configured to auto accept invitations, but that may not work for everyone.What did come up reading your post though was SUBJECT LINE CONVERSIONS. This is something that email marketing, analytics and SEO folks spend a ton of time thinking about.This reminds me of the bloomberg businessweek article covering the Obama email campaign tactics. Apparently the subject line “Hey” generated the highest open & click rates. Go figure!

  33. David Petersen

    What if I put an invite on your Calendar for courtside Knicks seats, right next to Spike Lee. 🙂

  34. Donna Brewington White

    I was actually coming over to read another post and since I haven’t been on AVC for a few days, I quickly skimmed the headlines but clicked as soon as I saw the word “rant.”. A Fred rant is too good to pass up. GG gives good rant too. I wish there was an alarm that went off whenever one of you decides to rant.Seems like this should have a simple solution. Like calendar invites should be a different animal than regular email so that they are delivered differently rather than just landing in your inbox with all your other email without being flagged or anything.

  35. tony greene

    Sorry to hear about your problem with the invites. Google should have an option to remove/accept these types of occurrences.

  36. Andrew K Kirk

    I agree with statement, have never used this tactic to “sneak” onto another’s attention list, and agree with the sentiment.But this post made me step back and think. Doesn’t the calendar invite (meeting invite only), with details of the meeting, eliminate a step (email + meeting invite) in the process, thus making it all more efficient?

  37. Techman

    Calendar invite emails can get added to your Calendar automatically? Not a very useful feature for Google Calendar if you ask me, especially if you’re someone like Fred.Not sure if my Calendar can do that but I hope it doesn’t, because I would hate to have “garbage” on my calendar that I don’t need.

  38. Joe Lazarus

    In addition to the current Google Calendar setting where you can pick whether meeting requests are automatically added to your calendar or not, it would be nice if Google added options like “only automatically add invitations to my calendar from people in my address book”.

  39. jer979

    It would be cool if there was a service/plug-in where you could vote the sender of an email up or down…and your network could as well. Then we would crowd source out the calendar spammers from out networks.