USV Goes To The Bay Area

I got up early, even for me, took a car to the airport, and boarded a flight to SFO to join my partners who have been in SF since yesterday. From the moment I land at SFO until the moment I get on a flight back to NYC early friday afternoon, I will be in meetings or dinners or sleeping. 

Our firm makes a twice yearly trek to the bay area. Everyone other than our operations staff comes. We throw a big cocktail party and invite everyone who works at our bay area portfolio companies (if you work for a USV portfolio company in the bay area, I really encourage you to come), we meet privately with a few of our portfolio companies as a group, we meet with a bunch of companies we've been following but are not yet invested in, we have a private dinner for our bay area portfolio CEOs/Senior Teams, and we schedule a bunch of board meetings during this week as well.

We've been doing this for a few years now. It's a good practice and I am glad we do it. We have made 18 investments in the bay area and 15 of them are still active. All but one of our bay area portfolio companies are shown here. That's roughly a third of our portfolio and it represents an important cohort for us. We are not inclined to open a second office anywhere so we need to find ways to get closer to the companies outside of NYC, which is the majority of our portfolio (26 out of our 48 active portfolio companies are outside of NYC).

The VC business tends to collapse the engagement between a venture firm and its portfolio companies to a single relationship, usually the partner who sits on the board of the portfolio company. That is not ideal and Brad and I committed to each other to change that in our firm back when we started USV. We have sat on boards together. We have swapped boards a few times. We build real relationships between the other partners and the leadership teams. We have invested in the USV Network which brings all of our portfolio companies together to help each other. And we bring the entire partnership to the bay area twice a year.

These things matter a lot. It's easy to slip into freelance mode where each partner manages a portfolio of companies and there isn't much interaction between these mini portfolios. I have seen that at many VC firms over the years and it isn't the best way to add value.

We haven't perfected anything and all of this is a work in progress that will never end. But getting out of the office as a partnership and engaging with a bunch of our portfolio companies is a great way to spend a couple weeks a year. And that's what we will be doing this week in San Francisco.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. karen_e

    For related and timely reading on this topic, I am working through “Bay Watched” in the October 14th New Yorker. “How San Francisco’s new entrepreneurial culture is changing the country.”

    1. fredwilson

      I had allergic reaction to that article. It creeped me out

      1. ShanaC

        i thought the description of you was kind of funny

      2. JamesHRH

        It should – just like hippies flipped out the Greatest Generation.When these kids hit this wall (from middle of article) – What’s going to happen to these serial entrepreneurs when they’re forty-five and have two kids—especially if they don’t have a hit company? – will they turn to VCs for funding to go big?Their parents turned to Wall Street after blissing out. I got VC @ a 50/50 chance of being OK.

  2. matthughes

    All great adventurers eventually head West.

    1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      In search of east 🙂

      1. matthughes


  3. jason wright

    the bay area companies are incorporated in California?if NYC was a San who would it be?

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Guessing most are incorporated in Delaware.

  4. Nik Bonaddio

    Bring a hoodie.

    1. fredwilson

      Got one

      1. Nik Bonaddio

        So you don’t want a numberFire hoodie, then?

        1. fredwilson

          straight black. no logo. i am not into being a billboard, except in yoga where i wear my stripe t-shirt. not entirely sure why i wear my stripe shirt in yoga except i like it, i like stripe, and it fits perfectly for yoga

          1. Nik Bonaddio

            I love that narrative – the VC in black.Have a fun trip, my friend. Safe travels!

      2. CJ

        Burton Sleeper? I love that thing, thanks again for posting about it.

  5. JLM

    .Great management and relationship technique. Well played.Management by wandering around at its finest.Clff House is closed because it is on gov’t land. I want ya’ll to stage a break in and get some grub.JLM.

  6. Eric Friedman

    The new filters at to see Co’s, locations, stage, etc… is really great. Simple filter, but so much better than a static page.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      I’ve had fun flipping around there too.

    2. fredwilson

      yeah, one of my favorite features of the new

  7. Tom Labus

    This kinda caps the number of investments you guys can do?Cloning!

  8. awaldstein

    My ex home for a long time. Used to live in the Marina and ride my bike across the GG when sleeplessness grabbed me.Wear layers and you are so close to two of the best urban natural wineries in the country in Berkeley–Broc and Donkey & Goat.

  9. William Mougayar

    How a VC partnership works is one of those “invisible” traits that an outsider doesn’t see.All for one, and one for all.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      After familiarizing myself with Albert more at his blog – for those who don’t know – I’ve come to notice how those two at least must get along very well. They fundamentally feel and believe the same thing, though like taking a different approach or role on how to achieve it – and then they’ve packaged it up into a business model that works to help perpetuate it all forward.I love it, working towards the same environment for my own life.

      1. William Mougayar

        Fred said one time they are like the Beatles. Any great small team has some kind of harmony that makes the whole thing hum!

  10. EarlyBird

    United 821 perhaps? It was early, I was in your flight and tired too!

    1. fredwilson

      yup. zander was in the back. i was in business class.

  11. Duncan Logan

    I wish I had known, USV has a great following in the Bay Area and I would have loved to set up a talk for you to the SF Community.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Twice per year offers lots of future possibilities.

  12. takingpitches

    Who needs a second office when you can just do a Pop-Up USV!

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Such a fun idea. I imagine portfolio companies would get excited for this. I hope they do anyway!

    2. fredwilson

      great way to think about it. pop-up USV. love it.

      1. pointsnfigures

        Camp out at the Union Square Nextspace.

  13. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    “I have seen that at many VC firms over the years and it isn’t the best way to add value.”AND”all of this is a work in progress that will never end”… never seems to stop amazing me with your humbleness.

    1. CJ

      And his cockyness, he has the perfect mix of both. One of the things I admire most.

      1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        yes precisely.Not the best to add value -cockywork in progress – humble.

  14. Dale Allyn

    Good stuff. Happy trails.

  15. David Noël

    Sorry I am missing it this time around. Have lots of fun.

    1. fredwilson

      the soundcloud parking lot is such a great place to throw a party. it was awesome last night. weather was perfect too.

      1. David Noël

        Great to hear, glad it was a success. Love that parking lot and office

        1. Holger Luedorf

          Bummed to have missed it.

  16. Matt A. Myers

    In case you don’t realize it – what you and USV are doing is how the government should be organized, from facilitating learning and community, to making smart investments.I know this will sound impossible or improbably – more likely why it will work. When you feel like retiring, you should get the USV team to evolve into running for government operations.Leverage your experience and get in the driver’s seat. We need transparent leadership with lifelong experience in operations and management – and who care.I know, too, in this current reality – you can actually get more done and be more helpful to society via private business than you can with politics and gun show most of the countries in the world call the government.

  17. ShanaC


  18. Tyler Hayes

    Not at a USV company any longer but the big cocktail party was always one of the highlights of the year. Basically just feels like a big family reunion. Everyone from every portfolio company should go, great time with great people.

  19. Julien

    Rule #1: do not launch a new site when you plan on baording a plane for more than 6 hours 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      We launched it at midnight Friday. It was discovered by HN today. A number of us were on flights but nothing serious happened when we were in flight

  20. pointsnfigures

    come on down to Stocktoberfest in San Diego.

  21. Donna Brewington White

    What an affirming thing to do for your bay area portfolio. Have a great trip! Also enjoying the new USV site. Will enjoy more when more time to play around. It really is like a playground/candy store, etc.Really, really love the USV Network concept. This would definitely influence me if I was looking for an investor! Even if you don’t open an office in SF, perhaps there is a way to create a base for the network there. Also, didn’t notice any workshops on recruiting for the network. Hmmm…

  22. William Mougayar

    Are you going to rent a Vespa like last time 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      i have to go down to Menlo Park today for a board meeting. i am not up for a vespa for that trip. i think i will try sidecar and see how that goes

      1. Farhan Lalji

        Jeez, you should auction that ride and give the proceeds to donor’s choose.

        1. CJ

          Except that you don’t want to get trapped in a car with someone giving you the worst pitch you’ve ever heard for however long that trip takes. LOL

      2. William Mougayar

        Or Lyft?

  23. FlavioGomes

    Without fail…the Bay Area always energizes me. The United Nations of entrepreneurship.

  24. kirklove


    1. fredwilson

      yup, congrats on the arrival of your son Kirk. big week for you and Lili

      1. kirklove

        Thanks Buster.Next week will be even better when we hit Yasuda (Lili’s present).Schedule is prob set though try Quince, Michael Tusk’s joint. Pasta on par with Perla.

  25. Tony_Alva

    We’re HUGE fans of Edmodo! It’s been a great help transitioning my daughter from elementary school to middle school.

  26. Geoffrey Weg

    Thinking that if you get a strong turnout from Bay Area portfolio companies, then you’re going to be throwing a massive party!

  27. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    “The VC business tends to collapse the engagement between a venture firm and its portfolio companies to a single relationship, usually the partner who sits on the board of the portfolio company” I am do glad that USV doesn’t follow this as it never made much sense to me