Video Of The Week: Talk with Dave Morgan, John Battelle & Me

During the OpenCo event/week in NYC a month or so ago, I sat down at cocktail hour at Simulmedia with Dave Morgan and John Battelle. We had a great chat and the folks at Simulmedia edited it down to about 18mins. It's a fun talk.

#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Happy hour on Saturday morning? Ok, I put vodka in my coffee to get into it.Yes, when startups business models are bumping into policy hurdles, that’s a great validation of a large market opportunity, because the government was protecting something big.

    1. Cam MacRae

      A Bloody Mary is perfectly acceptable on Saturday morning. Beer; not so much.

      1. William Mougayar

        Bloody right !

        1. Cam MacRae


  2. Cam MacRae

    Slightly perplexed by your praise of LinkedIn; it seems to be an elaborate scam from where I sit cf. endorsement spam, etc.

    1. jason wright

      i wouldn’t pay to be able to send an email to someone on there.

      1. Cam MacRae

        Well no. I’m not sure who would other than recruiters and sales folk.

    2. fredwilson

      they have built the resume database for the web. i think that’s a very defensible business. it’s like wikipedia. we only need one.

      1. Anthony Serina

        for organizations as well as people

      2. Cam MacRae

        And they’re actively encouraging people to fill it with bullshit. We’re going to need another one.

        1. LE

          Agree. Original value is gone for me.At this point my decision to take a contact that writes to me is based on:1) Impressive credentials of some sort2) Someone I know (obviously)3) Attractive picture4) Chance decreases if you’ve hit 500 contactsI get perhaps several invites per day. What’s the point?Actually part of the point will be for me to figure out a way to monetize all the bogus contacts that approach. I will probably just put up another profile that I can use for outbound spamming to sell something. Why not? Who drew first blood?

          1. Donna Brewington White

            “Chance decreases if you’ve hit 500 contacts.”If I am recruiting for, for instance, sales/business development or talent acquisition people, where their visibility in some way indicates their effectiveness, the # of contacts the person has is meaningful to me. It is not a standalone indicator, but raises questions if it is low.

          2. LE

            What do you define as low?Also give me an example of an amount of contacts that someone has that are positive, negative (or neutral) in your opinion (then I will give you my take on same and why).

          3. Donna Brewington White

            Ah @domainregistry:disqus had a sip of caffeine and took another look at your comment. Now see that by “taking a contact ” you mean a LinkedIn contact and yes 500 contacts when I can see no obvious reason the person wants to connect with me without a personalized request, this gives me pause.

          4. andyidsinga

            tl;dr…context is getting lost on linked intl:linkedin is becoming more and more annoying. i cant quite understand why people who don’t know me in the slightest would try to connect. whats in it for them?I get the ‘i want to add you to my professional network’ message which feels like I’m being added by a robot – which could mean that they want every software engineer in the world to be in their network … is another thing entirely when there is some meaningful message or if we’ve met in some way ( online or f2f ). when people on avc want to contact me ..they just just do. no linkedin required, and plenty of context.

        2. andyidsinga

          we need to convince fred to add a path + svc to ( and in.json )outputs AVCer list. pulled from disqus community data.:)

          1. falicon

            Love the thought and I can prob. do this for the community via the data gawk and greentile has…email me ( info at falicon dot com ) and we can flesh the idea out a bit more.

          2. Cam MacRae

            @andyidsinga:disqus @falicon:disqusBAM!

      3. LE

        Linkedin is interesting from an employers perspective.I gather that the employees that you have are mostly people that you expect to leave (say interns) or are a partner (or track), or perhaps they aren’t key to your business significantly or you can easily replace them etc. So you don’t have that fear of loss. Not the same for the guy running the business in the industrial park in West Chester or Paramus.So there are a bunch of businesses out there that are quite interested in protecting the employee assets that they have and really would be bothered by someone having a constant resume out there advertising their skills and that can be easily contacted. (In the same way that you wouldn’t want gotham girl on a dating site or vice versa. Would you? Don’t say “that’s different” it’s actually not that far off. It’s hard to replace something good when you are running a typical business in the traditional world of less than “n” employees w/o funny money.)In my first business there were a few people who were really key and because they were obscure they never got poached by competition. [1] Likewise if we were able to know people who were working for certain competitors we would have poached them! Anyone who applied for a job that even survived working, say 5 years, at certain competitors went to the top of the pile.[1] It took time to find these people and filter out the riff raff. One of them actually was the cornerstone that allowed me to sell years later much in the same way that a good chef is key to a restaurant.

        1. PhilipSugar

          You either view your employees as chattel or you don’t.If you can make people successful and if they fly away you should view that like your kids, with nothing but joy as you watch the seeds you’ve sown grow.You should be the place people want to come not from where they want to go.

          1. LE

            Idealistically of course but you are not speaking to the 99% of business owners (or corporations) out there that will never be in that game most likely.Take the contractor that works on your house renovation that has a small crew and a key carpenter or two that is really really good and that he has trained. You think he’s going to be happy to lose that person? Why should he be happy about that? So that he can spend time to find someone else and train them?Of course goes without saying that you do as much as possible to retain good people and treat them well etc. Just like you do with a spouse or girl or boyfriend. But you aren’t going to be happy either if they are constantly exposed to temptation. Or quick to fall for a line w/o knowing the big picture.Also you might be underestimating the fact that other employers may lie, bullshit and promise in order to hire someone away.Lastly not seeing the comparison with kids on this as similar. While there are many parents who would like to keep their kids close to home for their benefit (families in South Philly come to mind) they maintain different relationships and have also the benefits of their childrens success when they fly away.As a side note several people who worked for me in the 80’s have become quite successful as a result of what they learned from me (I will come right out and say that). One of them left after I sold the business, a few before. All of them were trained from the ground up and knew nothing about the business. Of the ones that left before I wasn’t happy that I had to replace them and have no contact with them nor reason to.

      4. jason wright

        for this web, but not necessarily a future web. extinction is part of evolution

      5. Semil Shah

        Also underrated is the diversity in LinkedIn’s business model. They have multiple defensible revenue streams as compared to Facebook.

        1. LE

          But those revenue streams are all based on the same garbage in. If the flow of that is disrupted or goes somewhere else they are just as susceptible.

          1. Semil Shah

            That’s a fair point.

        2. Dajana Vidakovic

          Yes and how much need open mail adress and I see every people open twiter linkedin and other network why

      6. Donna Brewington White

        AngelList is becoming a LinkedIn of sorts in the startup world. With more purity built in which I hope it retains.

  3. jason wright

    speaking of strategy, yesterday’s Tour de France stage is a classic case study.

    1. Cam MacRae

      Inspired racing from Saxo-Tinkoff. Dunno what to watch — the tour or Trent Bridge?!

      1. jason wright

        i cycled around the ground on day one. the sun was out, the bars heaving, the stands half empty. amber cricket.

        1. Cam MacRae

          They’re not empty today — barmy army were in full voice when Cowan was caught before tea.

          1. Henry Yates

            Loving a bit of cricket chat on avc!

          2. Cam MacRae

            Pretty rare! I think you’d have to go back to the 2011 world cup for the last lot of cricket banter.

        2. LE

          “the bars heaving”What does that mean? That they were empty?

          1. Cam MacRae

            Full to the brim.

          2. LE

            Ah local slang perhaps.Here’s one for you. See “jit” definition #11 here:http://www.urbandictionary….(I thought everyone called it that until I met someone from another state who had no clue what I meant).

          3. jason wright

            yes, it’s slang. could be navy slang.jit – a version of git?

          4. LE

            Nope. Not close.

          5. Cam MacRae

            You should probably steer clear of that term in Maine (8) or things could get ‘interesting’.

          6. jason wright

            very crowded. packed.

        3. Donna Brewington White

          Love the language. Bars heaving. I can see/feel it.Poetry much?

      2. jason wright

        getting closer and closer to a tied test

        1. Cam MacRae

          291/9 and need 20 runs. Down to the wire!

          1. jason wright


          2. Cam MacRae

            Yeah, I generally agree with DRS but I think they need to remove the ambiguity with respect to lbw.Great contest. Should be a good series, but I think England had the edge and now the advantage.

        2. Cam MacRae

          Bloody hell!

  4. JLM

    .The problem with entrepreneurs getting involved in many policy issues is they simply do not have the life experience or political acumen to master the process.Remember that lobbyists are always wiling to take your money but they passed a law prohibiting lobbyists from being compensated on a “results” basis.Entrepreneurs understand and have their own compasses pointing true north to results. Politicians do not.JLM.

    1. William Mougayar

      So, how can they knock down these hurdles that are impeding the realization of these emerging new business models? Someone has to start kicking at the can.

      1. Tyler Hayes

        Cursory opinion: any way they can. Get scrappy.Coincidentally I just stepped out of an hour-long conversation with my family about this issue of Congress being mostly lawyers as opposed to businesspeople. They asked me if I would ever consider running for office and I said no. I gave them the same reason I’ve always explained to anyone asking why I take such large risks like selling everything and moving to the Bay or starting my own company: “I don’t want to sit around debating the problems and how to solve them for 5 years. I want to just go and solve them. That’s why I went to Silicon Valley, that’s why start my own businesses.”

        1. William Mougayar


        2. LE

          “Congress being mostly lawyers as opposed to businesspeople”In order for a business person to get involved in politics they have to have a life event that allows them to get involved. In theory if they are doing well in business (haven’t sold) they are busy they aren’t going to take the time to get involved in politics. That would mean relinquishing their other responsibilities.Also lawyers have an incentive to get involved in politics either on the local level or otherwise because it’s a great marketing tool to get known and build your contact list for future business once you are out of office. Not the same advantage in general in business. (Same goes for realtors for that matter which is why you find both lawyers and realtors on many school boards and in local politics.)Politics is the art of compromise power structure and pecking order not the same as in business.

          1. Tyler Hayes


        3. Drew Meyers

          “I don’t want to sit around debating the problems and how to solve them for 5 years.”100% with you. I get asked the same question, and generally respond the same way you did.

    2. Tyler Hayes

      The problem with entrepreneurs getting involved in many policy issues is they simply do not have the life experience or political acumen to master the process.s/entrepreneurs/people

      1. LE

        The process also involves understanding how to manipulate people. People who range from rational to mentally ill.

        1. Tyler Hayes

          Supervillain Theory.

  5. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Really enjoyed it. My favorite moments:- when John explains OpenCo- when Fred says, “I would never do anything off of my own site, EVER.”- when Dave orders up his second pint.And check out this body language. Looks like they’re on a quiz show 😉

  6. LE

    Note to sumulmedia. And to anyone planning on filming an event.The production values on this are really bad. Colors are bland, you should have a either a step and repeat or at least your logo somewhere with your name and not just a grey drab brick background. Should be more than one camera angle. Should have appropriate lighting. Also invest in a HD account at vimeo or equivalent. Black suits with gray brick with obviously tired participants doesn’t look good. [1] Details matter. I put more effort into filming my stepdaughters elementary school events which are only seen by family members. It escapes me why no thought is put into things like this, even if impromptu (which I don’t think this was) with no concern for what the viewer is seeing.[1] I’m sure you could get NYU film students to do a better job for free.

    1. Dave Morgan

      Thanks. Producing video of these events was originally a bit of an afterthought, so we haven’t been very focused on production quality. However, your points are correct and it would be a shame to not do a better job capturing and producing such valuable conversations for a better, broader circulation. We will.

      1. JLM

        .Go look at the Good Life Project for some superior production values. That is filmed with a Canon 5D MkII, lavalier mics and a couple of simple lights. If you had two cameras, you could vary camera angles and make it much, much more interesting.I like the drab background but it should have some graphics.Also, the post production intro of names, logos and an intro and exit are easy as pie. iMovie or Final Cut — film student stuff.Content, still great stuff. Don’t be too hard on yourself.JLM.

  7. george

    Really enjoyed Fred and John together in this type of discussion, a couple a great takeaways. Although, I do miss Web2.0, but I respect John’s purist conviction to not allow something visionary to evolve into a self-promoting mousetrap.

  8. andyidsinga

    like the points about a16z and usv at about 16 mins.

    1. fredwilson

      different strokes for different folks

      1. William Mougayar

        But they have 2 fund approaches Seed, and Venture/Growth. Their seed one is a bit closer to your approach,- more or less, no?

        1. fredwilson

          no, they make a ton of seed betswe don’t seed anything that we aren’t as committed to as a series C deal all deals have equal footing at USV

          1. William Mougayar

            Got it. That’s an important nuance.

  9. wiwa

    you all look like you really gotta pee