Been There Done That
I saw the TechCrunch blurb about Blockfeed this morning and my immediate reaction was “we tried that.” Almost a decade ago, we invested in Outside.in which was trying to do something very similar to Blockfeed.
Outside.in didn’t work but that doesn’t mean Blockfeed won’t work. The volume of hyperlocal content that is created today is likely an order of magnitude larger than what was available to serve up a decade ago. And geotagging capabilities have improved significantly in the past decade as well. And consuming hyperlocal content in a feed on a geolocated device is way easier and more common today than it was a decade ago.
So I wish Blockfeed well in their attempt to build a hyperlocal aggregated news service. The idea appeals to me as a user as much as it did ten years ago.
But it doesn’t appeal much to me as an investor. Because I’ve “been there done that.” And the emotions of trying something, working really hard on it, and coming up empty can get in the way of an investor’s willingness to try something again.
I know that I should get over this tendency to reject investment ideas that I’ve tried and whiffed on before. You could have tried streaming video in 1999, lost everything on it, and then passed on YouTube when it came around, and that would have been a mistake. You could have tried delivery services in 1999 (we did), lost everything on it (we did), and then passed on the latest batch of delivery services and that might be a mistake.
But even though I understand that rationally, it doesn’t help with the emotional aversion to trying something again that didn’t work last time. And venture capital investing is not a detached cold hyper-rational exercise. It is a deeply emotional and connected experience. And thus the reluctance to go there again.