My Avatar

My friend Howard is in town and he's going to come by my office today to see me. It got me thinking about the good old days at Wallstrip and all the fun we had. And how that led to the avatar I use here and everywhere else on the web. So I am reposting the story of my avatar which I initially told here four or five years ago.


Orginally posted on Nov 29th, 2009:

 I saw this tweet when I got up this morning:

hey @fredwilson – whats the story behind ur avatar?

While longtime readers know it, I figure many of you don't. So here it goes.

Starting about four years ago, Howard Lindzon started commenting actively on this blog. He was funny, he was smart, and I enjoyed our banter in the comments.

One march vacation, our family made a short stop in Phoenix, where Howard used to live. He emailed me and offered my son and me two tickets to the Suns game. We took him up on that and that's how we met for the first time.

It turned out Howard was hatching an idea for a web show for investors. Think Rocketboom meets Jim Cramer. I told him it was a good idea and encouraged him to do it. Howard would fire ideas at me and I would give him feedback on them.

Out of that came Wallstrip. Here's a post I wrote a little over three years ago announcing the launch of Wallstrip.

One of the original ideas for the show that never really worked out was that there would be a dozen well known bloggers who would write short posts about each daily show. Howard asked me to do that and I agree to do it at least once a week.

So that's how the avatar came to be. Howard asked his friend Jenny Ignaszewski to draw up avatars for all dozen of the stock bloggers using photos of them that were available on the web. The first time I saw my avatar was when Wallstrip launched and there it was along with Howard's and a bunch of others.Fredwilson

From the minute I saw it, I liked it. It uses my favorite color (green) as the backdrop and the eye color (my eyes are sometimes blue and sometimes green and sometimes something else). It looks like me, but not too much.

So I began to use it a bit here and there around the web as I set up new profiles. But by no means was it the only profile picture I used. For corporate oriented services like LinkedIn, I'd use my Union Square Ventures headshot. For social nets like Facebook, I'd use a regular headshot. I used a photo of me taking a photo on Flickr for a long time.

But then I started to realize that the Wallstrip avatar was becoming my online identity. People would comment about it all the time. Around the time we sold Wallstrip, Howard asked Jenny to do a real painting of it which I now have in my office at Union Square Ventures. It's a real conversation starter.

Sometime in early 2008, I just decided to go with it everywhere. It's at the top of this blog and everywhere else I have an online identity. It's my online brand now.

Like this blog, this was not planned. It just happened. That's the way most of the important things in my life have come to be.


Comments (Archived):

  1. David Semeria

    Wow, I remember reading the original post.Time really has flown…

    1. awaldstein

      Yup…a bunch of us have been hanging out for a while.Lots of good things have come from connecting here.

      1. Aaron Klein


      2. Tereza

        Yes and @davidsemeria still wins for Best Hair.

        1. awaldstein

          He does actually look quite like his avatar.

        2. David Semeria

          πŸ™‚ It’s getting wilder as I get older.It must be something to do with recapturing the Halcyon days…

          1. JLM

            .Haha, wonder how many Latin students out there remember the story of the Kingfishers (Halcyons in Latin meaning Aelous and Ceyx — from memory, so double check these names) who could stop the storms for 7 days so his wife could lay eggs?Those are the Halcyon days, my friends.Sister Anne de Beaupre would be proud of me, I am sure.Only about 45 years since I studied Latin, eh?JLM.

          2. David Semeria

            Sister Anne de Beaupre sure left a lasting impression on you JLM.If I win the prize for the best AVC hair, sister Anne surely wins it for AVC Latin citations!

          3. LE

            When I first started reading AVC it took me a bit of research to uncover why you used the avatar that you use.

          4. Vasudev Ram

            Well played.Speaking of Latin (-> Greek), this post of mine featuring Pythia may be of interest (scroll down a little in it):…Pythia was the Delphic Oracle …

        3. William Mougayar

          he looks like he was just electrocuted

          1. LE

            I don’t think your avatar conveys your warm and persuasive personality. I would vote to give you a new avatar for that reason iim. (I’m basing this on speaking to you over the phone as well as seeing the interview Rohan did with you).

          2. William Mougayar

            That was just a joke someone did that for me 3 years ago. It reflected my startup kill personality.

          3. jason wright

            he just read Fred’s term sheet.

      3. ShanaC


    2. Carl Rahn Griffith


    3. Lucas Dailey

      Same. I had the good luck of discovering Fred/avc shortly before starting my first company, can’t imagine what it would be like otherwise. And tonight I’m speaking at an event to tell architects the path to the startup & UX world!

    4. Elia Freedman

      Ah… nostalgia day down at the AVC.

    5. howardlindzon

      yes fred should post a time-lapse of my hairline since original post

      1. Tereza

        GIF it!

  2. JimHirshfield

    Uh oh, rerun. It’s gonna be one of those days.

    1. Tereza

      Ruh-roh, rastro.

    2. ShanaC

      i blame the snow in nyc

      1. Donna Brewington White

        I woke up to a text from my son with a video of his very first snowfall (that he can remember) . All the places we’ve gone with snow, the snow was already on the ground.Thanks for connecting with him on LinkedIn BTW. How do you like that title : Future Startup Founder. My idea. No pressure, though. πŸ™‚

  3. jason wright

    my avatar is a close up photo i took of the repeating design on the one and only neck tie i own, a Moschino i bought circa 1994. it was very expensive, and i was very poor at the time, but i just had to have it! there’s no particular sociological story behind it, although it does remind me of my girlfriend of that time (she was with me in the shop when i bought it, so maybe a bit ….logical).

    1. JimHirshfield

      Why did you have to have it? A job interview?

      1. jason wright

        no, i just really liked it, and i could never part with it.i don’t do job interviews. i start laughing at the artifice of it all, and i can well understand why Fred turns down just about every entrepreneur after a first meeting. As Mark Suster would say, lines not dots. where are the reference points?!

        1. Cam MacRae

          I’ve never had a job interview. I’ve “auditioned” a few times.

          1. JimHirshfield

            For only leading roles, no doubt.

  4. RichardF

    Serendipity has provided me with most of the best moments in my life, I’m a true believer!

    1. lisa hickey

      Social media accelerates serendipity.

  5. Brandon G. Donnelly

    Consistency is powerful

  6. JimHirshfield

    I’ve seen Howard’s. But where are the other dozen or so avatars? Gallery link please.

  7. jason wright

    i wonder if there’s an academic/ psychological study out there on the choice of avatar people are making to represent themselves on the web?i personally do not care for actual head shot photographs (passport style). it shows what we look like on the outside, but what does it say about what we look like on the inside? not too much. it doesn’t give me a ‘persona’ framing at all of who you all are.

    1. awaldstein

      You mean you can’t look directly into my soul through my eyes?

      1. Cam MacRae

        Not with those bloody glasses on…

        1. awaldstein

          Gee…never heard that before…

          1. Cam MacRae

            Lies! You’ve heard it at least twice. In unison. πŸ™‚

      2. jason wright

        of course i could, if only you took your sunglasses off hombre πŸ˜‰

      3. Aaron Klein

        You have an avatar full of personality on your web site. Which of course highlights the iconic glasses. πŸ™‚

        1. awaldstein

          Thanks…actually should change my avatar to my Facebook profile which is my true alter ego, just hanging out with Sam on the rocking chair.

      4. LE

        I like your avatar. Probably because you look like an aviator [1] and that resonates.[1] Or military/law enforcement.

  8. takingpitches

    Avatar Fun Friday!

  9. leigh

    Every once in a while someone gets on my case about my unprofessional Avatar and I just think to myself, well, if it’s good enough for Fred Wilson then …….. πŸ™‚

    1. Tereza

      Yeah Fred is partial to au naturel or arthouse. No airbrush.

    2. awaldstein

      It’s perfect! We don’t need more boring we need smart people who just create results by being themselves.Kinda looks like you.

      1. leigh

        in a very weird sort of way it does. i had to replace my linkedin though (and it still bugs me but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do πŸ™‚

        1. awaldstein

          I forget often that I have a Linked In account.

          1. Jim Canto

            Linkedin is worth remembering these days. Seems to have improved quite a bit over the last couple of years.

          2. awaldstein

            Possibly.Their group infrastructure still quite sucks though.People find me through it but honestly, I see it as a flat file database.Write a post on why it is worth a second look and I’ll definitely read it.

          3. Jim Canto

            It is a flat file for sure. I agree. It’s been pretty good, over the last 365 for connecting with new folks that I’m not finding elsewhere. However, I have to admit, it’s not where I socialize. I I simply view each new connection as a new world of potential ideas. That’s where I’m deriving value…for now. Figured I’d reply since there is no full post coming anytime soon. πŸ˜‰ Nice to meet you, BTW.

          4. awaldstein

            Nice indeed.I wrote this post about three plus years ago on LI (Looking for community on LinkedIn lamenting its lack of community.My naivetΓ© in those days when I thought everything connecting had to have a social handshake, that QR codes would change the world and that Disqus would turn the web inside out πŸ˜‰ LI and Disqus have done just fine following their own business leads and QR codes have gone the way of the Hulu hoop.Can’t be right all the time.

          5. Jim Canto

            Disqus is irritating the heck out of my right this second. If I don’t have my cursor over the text entry field, while I’m typing, as soon as I hit any key, it knocks me out of text entry mode. GrrrSounds like I need to read more from you… or at least hang around more. Here’s to the future!

          6. Donna Brewington White

            Yeah you do. πŸ™‚

          7. Jim Canto

            Thank you, Donna. I appreciate the warmth. B-)

      2. panterosa,

        We don’t need more boring we need smart people who just create results by being themselves.+1000

    3. William Mougayar

      i like your avatar. more importantly, if you like it, then it’s you.

    4. panterosa,

      Yours makes me happy when I see it, it’s fun, playful, and joyous. Rock on.

    5. Nick Ambrose

      I’ve never had any comments on mine, so now that makes me wonder if people really think I look like that !

    6. fredwilson

      i love your avatar. tell them to fuck off.

  10. Tereza

    Fred hates my avatar, because it “doesn’t look like” me. Pfft.

    1. William Mougayar

      Where is it?

    2. fredwilson

      i said that?

      1. Tereza

        Yes. You. Did.

        1. Tereza

          It’s OK. It was in context.

  11. pointsnfigures

    The Stocktwits bloggers were offered the chance to get one. I can’t remember why I declined. I think it was because I had seen so many of them on the web and I didn’t want to be a copycat. I also didn’t feel like I had “earned” it. Fred’s works. Howard has a similar one and it looks good. Mine is a photo of me in the Cubs bullpen at Wrigley Field.

    1. LE

      I happen to like the avatar you use here. And I liked it immediately. It’s original, conveys something about you, and is really creative.

      1. pointsnfigures

        thx. one day maybe it will be with a Cubs hat and a World Series trophy

  12. laurie kalmanson


  13. Joe Yevoli

    Ha, been reading the blog for so long I remember when this was originally posted!

    1. fredwilson

      thanks. i will fix it

  14. FlavioGomes

    Fred, I find your avatar instantly recognizable when it appears on lists etc. its perfect.

  15. Salt Shaker

    I think you should market as a halloween mask next year. Sure to be a big seller in tech commuunities.

  16. William Mougayar

    I was thinking about making this my avatar…

    1. matthughes


    2. LE


    3. fredwilson

      please don’t

      1. William Mougayar

        was kidding of course πŸ™‚

    4. David Semeria

      That’s so full of win. Go for it William!Obviously none of the above is any way influenced by your ‘electrocuted’ comment πŸ™‚

    5. Guest

      Haha, that’s brilliant, William.The 6-packs on that movie were all created by make-up, contouring and lighting; it was in a documentary about film-making.I bumped into Gerard Butler on Broadway three years ago. He’s an attractive man but he didn’t look like the ‘300’ posters!

    6. Tom Labus

      Need helmet too

    7. Donna Brewington White

      I don’t think so, William.

      1. William Mougayar

        ok πŸ™‚ I won’t.

    8. Guy Lepage

      LOL! Awesome!

  17. John Revay

    In particular – I like the modified one on with the antenna coming off your head

  18. AlexHammer

    Very nice. I like it.

  19. matthughes

    Good story.I didn’t see it during its prime but the archives of Wallstrip are pretty funny.

  20. LE

    From the minute I saw it, I liked it.Exactly the opposite. Immediately w/o equivocation I did not. When I first started reading, I wondered who the guy was hiding behind that avatar.Now I know and I don’t think it does you justice. Or even close.I know people say they like it. But I don’t.

    1. falicon

      When there’s at least a few that really dislike something, that’s the moment when you know you just might be onto something…the thing to really fear in the world is common indifference.

  21. panterosa,

    I am such a fan of Fred’s avatar that it’s on page one of my iPad for AVC link. I think everyone should have an avatar, incarnation or alter ego they associate with. It’s like a psychic mirror to the soul, or as Fred says, a brand.My avatar comes from my hero, who I watched deeply as a very small child. So much so, that many attitudes and problem solving strategies of the Pink Panther have informed my artwork and design. My profile result on was “animated inventress”, and that has been my tag line ever since.Making silk purses from sows ears, playfully, with a smile, has been my mission, and shape-changing to fit those task has been how I achieve this. It can all be summed up in the credits for the Return of the Pink Panther. The Carmen Miranda spoof is my top favorite at 1:59-2:13…

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      I grew up on Pink Panther, too πŸ™‚

  22. Courtney Payne

    I’m avatar’d, too. They’re good to build your brand around, and can allow you to convey something @ a glance you may not otherwise be able to

  23. Kirsten Lambertsen

    The very first time I saw it, my first reaction was that maybe it was a Clemente. But I actually like the Ignaszewski better than I would a Clemente.I think, when I ‘make it,’ I’ll commission her to make one of me. Like a reward or badge of honor. That should become a Silicon Alley tradition. A successful exit gets you your own Ignaszewski.

  24. vruz

    intuitive personal branding is best branding. Same thing happened to me.

    1. fredwilson

      yours is killer

      1. Donna Brewington White

        And it’s GREEN! As my sister would say “the color of money”

  25. howardlindzon

    thanks Fred…see u later. that seems so long ago πŸ™‚

  26. Vasudev Ram

    My avatar can be seen to the left of this comment. I’ll save the story of it for another day …

  27. Vasudev Ram

    For those who don’t already know, if you sign up for a Gravatar account, and upload your avatar to it, it “follows” you around to all Gravatar-enabled sites, like Disqus and many others. So you don’t have to upload your avatar to each such service. – Globally Recognized AvatarAnd Gravatar is an Automattic site (makers of WordPress). Wow, it’s only just now that I realized why Automattic is spelled that way – with a double “t”, though I knew about the company for a while. Anyone else can guess? πŸ™‚

  28. Guest

    Being Chinese and called Twain (the union of two sides), the Yin Yang was a natural choice for my avatar.The blue is for blue-sky thinking, the red is for passionate execution and the white is for purity of soul.Red, blue and white makes my favorite color which is purpley cornflower.

  29. Gerard Greenidge

    Fred I like your avatar. I’ve used mine for almost everything.

  30. Gahe

    Thank you for sharing your story, what has passed you will have a lot of experience and change. But I am always aware that what was good or bad through all contribute to you today.

  31. Prokofy

    I remember I SO believed in that avatar painting that when I met you for the first time, you walked right by me and I didn’t notice you because I was looking for a guy who actually looked like an Impressionist painting! Funny. You do sort of look like the avatar painting, at heart.

  32. Jaydev

    Hey @fredwilson – you have t-shirt with your avatar on it too right?

    1. fredwilson


      1. Jaydev

        Oh shoot. I had sent one to you back in Nov of 2011 on a green colored shirt. Will resend.