Video Of The Week: Andy Weissman on Dorm Room Tycoon

My partner Andy went on the Dorm Room Tycoon podcast recently. It’s a good discussion that covers a lot of stuff going on at USV these days. It’s about 50mins long.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    an interview with a sleeping racoon? this i have to make time for.

    1. Twain Twain

      You beat Jim to the Monty Python ‘Racoon Sketch’ then, LOL.

  2. Twain Twain

    THIS: empathetic skills.

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, that was my favorite part too

      1. Twain Twain

        Yann Le Cun, Facebook’s Head of AI, 17 April 2016: “Robots will have feeling. Emotions are related to prediction. Fear is related to predicting something scarry. Robots will be able to predict, hence they will have simulated emotion.”Empathic AI is frontier tech and where the battle lines are being drawn.Google, 5 Nov 2015: “We’re at the Commander Data stage,” staff research engineer Pete Warden said in a reference to the emotionless android in the television show Star Trek: The Next Generation. “But we’re trying to get a bit more Counselor Troi into the system”—the starship Enterprise’s empathetic counselor.* https://www.technologyrevie…Oct 2012, Twain asked Amit Singhal (then Google’s SVP of Search): “Does and will Google’s Star Trek engine have a heart?”He answered “That’s very deep for a first question. Journalists only ask those questions at the very end — after we’ve all had several drinks! No, Google’s engine doesn’t have a heart. We’re focusing on facts and figures. What we can measure.”Nov 2015, Amit Singhal in ‘Time’ interview: “Meaning is something that has eluded computer science. Natural Language Processing — or understanding what was said — is a key nut we’ll have to crack.”Ergo … like the better VCs … AI also needs to have a heart!And just as we needed a pioneer like Christian Bernard who performed first successful human-to-human heart transplant…So AI needs pioneers who can build, simulate and “transplant” a heart into AI.:*)

  3. LE

    Great recording so far (up to 12 minute part).I think Andy hit the nail on the head when he said “we need to be more proactive”. You are already working hard in the areas that are your comfort (or habit) zone. But I suspect that you aren’t working much at all in the areas that aren’t. Particularly direct selling and outreach to someone who hasn’t even contacted you. [1] [2]I could be wrong regarding current team member backgrounds, but I don’t think anyone on the USV team is super experienced or comfortable with this (outbound ‘selling’) and therein lies the problem. They haven’t been tasked with this. Besides it’s a full time job to sell. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Part of your R&D for new deals should include selling. By a dedicated team member or members with specific experience or the capabilities to farm for prospects.In the past it might have been possible for an investor (angel or vc) to sit and catch all of the business that comes in and makes decision. But it’s clear (from what Andy says) that you are missing things that you feel are in your area of interest, things that you’ve talked about, that you are somewhat unhappy that you missed. [3]The answer to this is to invest as a firm in a team that has experience in this area and use the data that they turn up and what they are able to do (via intel gathering, and onsite visits) to vet for future meetings with the partners. Maybe you are doing this now in some way but from what Andy says that doesn’t appear to be the case.[1] Colleges do this, even the top ones.[2] You aren’t a doctor or lawyer. You are allowed to sell and contact people. You don’t have to rely entirely on people contacting you. In the end if you get the deal that is all that matters.[3] Recognizing that the one that got away is always going to seem overly attractive. That’s just human nature. But that doesn’t mean that the feeling that you have isn’t valid.

    1. jason wright

      perhaps the partnership needs an extrovert to be added to the mix to fill the proactive space?

      1. LE

        I am not sure. At least not with something that involves divvying up the spoils. At this level it’s a set of traits that can be hired and/or paid for.I feel the same way about someone who, in business, thinks it’s a good idea to have an attorney as a partner. Actually that’s worse. That can really screw things up. Everything is framed legally and not practically. All cya.I am dealing with a company now that wants to send me a contract to sign for a small transaction that they don’t need a contract for at all. (Really). The only reason is they have an attorney on staff at a high level and he needs to justify his existence I guess so he figures ‘it can’t hurt’. He thinks he is doing the right thing. But it’s total overkill for the transaction at hand and I typically won’t sign a contract for a small deal. I will pass.I got an NDA last month which contained a paragraph that said something to the effect that any notes containing any of the confidential information will belong exclusively to the company and that I would turn them over upon request. WTF. I sent back the NDA signed with the entire paragraph crossed out. I said “I don’t share my work product and notes, can’t do that”. I was fine with non-disclosure no problem there. They were ok with that arrangement.

  4. LE

    Marketing wise nothing on your website (and definitely not on the home page) describes what Andy says are the benefits of dealing with USV. These benefits need to be added as a blurb on the home page and a tab at the top with more detail.If I could reduce what I heard Andy say to one point it would be”Support through the journey”.It’s all there on this recording, very well put, ready to be in writing in various places on your website.Some outtakes (this is loosely paraphrased):…providing good levels of service over long periods of time … good investors stick with the investments…. Being available when you need us…. Applying your pattern recognition to decisions you need to make…. Don’t want to be involved in the running of the business but we can through pattern recognition help you with your decisions because through the people we’ve helped we’ve done all of this before…. Give entrepreneurs frameworks to make these decisions…. Empathy, understanding.. Voice of guidance. Support through the journey……

    1. fredwilson

      we don’t like to do in your face marketingthis podcast is the kind of marketing we like to do

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        This blog !Not in my face, but I often choose to put my face in front of it.If you were a second hand car salesman – I guess I wouldn’t even notice !Not many can say that – Brilliant !

  5. Jeremy Robinson

    Liked Andy’s comments about USV being a “services business.” I like the idea that that relationship is key and the trust being built is the biggest return on investment. Maybe ROT as well as ROI? All towards a saner world, one hopes…..perhaps idealistically.

  6. William Mougayar

    Great questions and Andy’s answers were insightful. I liked the metaphor, “going with them through the high highs and low lows”.

  7. Lawrence Brass

    Interesting questions and honest answers.I liked the one at 00:47:32DRT / William Chandler: “When should entrepreneurs consider raising (VC) money and not?”USV / Andy Weissman: “I think there is a couple of times when they do, I think one is when they really have conviction and can articulate a narrative for how the idea becomes a very very big business and how they are comfortable with attempting to build that business such that it can deliver really huge returns to their investors, and that means there is a set of decisions that, you know, if you take money from a venture capitalist the way the economics of the VC world work are an investor like me need to make lets say 10 or 100 X, some huge multiple on our money which means we need these companies to be really large businesses for us to return money to our investors, and if they are not those returns makes less sense to us. So I think the times to take venture money is when you think your incentives are completely aligned with that, which means you have to believe that it is a big business, you are comfortable taking big risks, including existential risks around managing that business and how are you going to operate that business such that you align with the expectations and the desires of your investors. And that doesn’t happen in every case, in some cases it may take years to get to that point, sometimes you may know that right away, right at the beginning.”

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