Fun Friday: The Story Of My Avatar

I got this tweet today:

The answer is yes I have but it was eight years ago. I thought it would be fun to re-run that post.

Here is is:

 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.


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. Vendita Auto

    Liked it when I first saw it. Like the idea that it is now your “reality”

  2. William Mougayar

    Aside from you, Brad and Howard who still use them, who else had their avatar done that way who is still using them?

    1. LE

      Google image search doesn’t think there are any avatars that are similar so it doesn’t recognize the art style. It does bring up a metric s-ton of places where it appears though. I didn’t search for ‘fred wilson vc’ which is what shows in the box. I dropped the avatar into btw. The URL is really long hopefully disqus can handle this.…… https://uploads.disquscdn.c

      1. William Mougayar

        Interesting. Thanks

    2. daryn

      Mine was “inspired” by Fred’s, but from a portland artist named Ashley Goldberg. She had a series of “Bearded Guy” portraits, so it just made sense :)Full Portrait: https://uploads.disquscdn.c

    3. howardlindzon

      @maoxian uses it still others for whatever reason stopped. There were some great ones…

      1. pointsnfigures

        time for you to add some gray hair to yours

        1. Mark Essel

          They’re there if you look close enough

  3. K_Berger

    Slightly off topic, but it seems that once posts are about a month old the comments are no longer available, at least from the blog post. I don’t remember that always being the case. Is that something new?

  4. Mike Zamansky

    “this was not planned. It just happened” — honest organic growth — always the best.

  5. awaldstein

    Nice–considering redoing all my sites and blogs and yes, my avatar.We shall see….

    1. Vasudev Ram

      Startup Idea: AaaS – Avatar as a Service

  6. karen_e

    Then there was the time you told us about the blog overhaul and how you changed the avatar’s background to blue, which reduced the painterly quality of the original avatar. Extremely disappointing! [cheeky grin]

  7. Twain Twain

    I like the AVC logo because it looks like Fred watching out of a plane window. That shade of green has connotations of “The grass is green here.”

  8. howardlindzon

    we collect a LOT of Jenny’s work

  9. jason wright

    Reminds me of Picasso. Those big buggy eyes set out wide.

  10. Tom Labus

    It still works and looks fresh too!!

  11. PhilipSugar

    I got mine done because I liked yours. I used an online service to to it and I forget who. I like blue

  12. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:The blog topic landed on our efforts to encourage (bully) howardlinzon to use a live photo of Fred consistent with all the other speech and contributors of the upcoming Stocktoberfest event like a building falling on wild coyote.Our Apologies to howardlinzon.We had missed howardlinzon when he lived in Phoenix and Fred….We still feel this avatar of Fred should be used in a professional setting. https://uploads.disquscdn.c…The Green background. Ther color green as a favorite color is shared.

  13. JamesHRH

    I got a local window sign painter to do mine.

  14. Satish Mummareddy

    This post made me realize Ive been visiting this blog for 12+ years now!!!!!!!

  15. Semil Shah

    love the ending of this one.

  16. Mark Essel

    This reminds me to update my disqus avatar with a artistic sketch Michelle and I had done at Phoenix Commicon

  17. Anne Libby

    I’ll never forget meeting you on Amtrak, wow maybe 5-6 years ago? and recognizing you from your avatar.