Both Sides of the Table

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Understanding What’s Going on in #LATech

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Upfront Ventures was created 20 years ago as one of the original VC funds in Los Angeles. Back then only 15% of our dollars were invested locally whereas today 50% of our dollars are invested in LA.

Getting Your Head in the Game for Fund Raising

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When you run a startup you’re always on borrowed time. You have cash in the bank, a monthly burn rate and a “cash out” date that few in the company truly comprehend.

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Venture Capital is About Human Capital

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Gregg Johnson, CEO of Invoca For the first 5 years or so after I became a VC I didn’t talk much about what I thought a VC should be excellent at since frankly I wasn’t sure. I was mostly doing my job and trying to figure out how to be better every day.

Why You Can’t Search for a Job From a Remote Location

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I’ve had this conversation many times. A friend calls me up from: Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, wherever and says, “I’m thinking about moving to Los Angeles (or SF, NY, etc) and I’d love to start interviewing. Let me know if you hear of anything interesting.”

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And Then They Came for Me …

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Yesterday was Halloween in the United States where children dress up and try to scare people as they “trick-or-treat” for candy. Yet the only horror I experienced was watching Peter Thiel stand in front of a national media audience and re-endorse Donald Trump for President.

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How to Build a Startup & Understanding Venture Capital

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Many first-time founders seek advice when thinking about what ideas would be great for a startup company and receive the wrong advice that you need to focus on a billion-dollar idea. There are very few ideas that are obviously a billion-dollar idea from the start. So what should you do?

Why Misunderstanding Startup Metrics Can Cost You Your Business

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There has been a lot of public debate over the past several weeks about whether it’s a good thing to be “gross margin positive” or not and commentary always reminds me that some people at startups don’t quite understand financial metrics or even how to think about which ones are healthy.

What to Make of Andreessen Horowitz’s Returns?

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Rolf Winkler wrote a piece in the WSJ about A16Z’s returns in which he says they “lag behind Sequoia, Benchmark and Founders Fund.”

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Why I Backed a 24-Year-Old Trying to Assess Human Potential

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Today Upfront Ventures is announcing that we’ve backed Rebecca Kantar ’s startup Imbellus , a company designed to assess human potential and ultimately change the way we teach children. We led a $4 million investment along with Thrive Capital, GLG and Sound Ventures.

What Jonah @Peretti, CEO of BuzzFeed, Sees in the Future of Digital Media

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BuzzFeed. It conjures up a range of emotions anytime I’ve privately expressed my opinion to thought leaders in our industry that I believe it is one of the most innovative companies in digital media.

What Most People Don’t Understand About How Startup Companies are Valued

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There is much discussion online and also in small, private groups, about why the price of technology companies – public and private – are falling.

How to Stay in Control of Your Meetings

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Meetings. The bane of many of our existence. They suck up time and are often unproductive or don’t yield the results we expect. I want to talk about a specific type of meeting today — a Board Meeting — but this could easily apply more broadly.

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Lead, Follow or Get the F**k Out of the Way

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Lead — It’s hard to be a real leader. Decisions are never black or white, so most people fudge. The straddle middle grounds to keep everybody happy. They make compromises to try and hold together constituencies.

The Resetting of the Startup Industry

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Much has changed in the past four months of the technology startup world and how outsiders value the business. Of course it’s too early to predict whether this is a trend or an aberration but the smartest people I know in the industry are predicting the former.

The Corrosive Nature of Over-Introducers

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In modern society we’re all over-worked and over-loaded with information and tasks and to-dos and obligations. Nowhere is this more apparent than working in a startup where you are definitionally under-resourced and trying to make big accomplishments in compressed periods of time.

A Teachable Moment on Race

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Yesterday was the opening of the African American Museum in Washington DC, dedicated to the role that African Americans have played in building our country and our culture. It was signed into law 13 years ago by then president George W.

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The Full Dataset on What VCs are Thinking About Funding in 2016

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Every year at Upfront we try to analyze the venture markets. We try to look at the sources of capital, the valuations, exits and trends. We use this try to draw some context that informs our funding decisions. Of course we fund companies in good markets and bad.

Snapchat 101 for VCs and Old Folks

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As the human ear ages it loses its ability to hear high-pitched sound frequencies (above 15-16 kHz) through a condition known as presbycusis that starts at 18 years old.

How Do VCs Choose Their Investors (and should entrepreneurs care?)

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I recently read a blog post by Beezer Clarkson, Managing Director of Sapphire Ventures about why entrepreneurs should care about from whom their VC funds raise their capital. I spent a bunch of time thinking about this position — especially since Beezer is an investor in Upfront Ventures.

Why 2017 Should be a Great Year to Raise Venture Capital

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Recently Upfront Ventures published its outlook for the technology startup world and venture capital overall titled it “ WTF Happened to Winter ?” The conclusion of our report was that winter did come, but it was mild and short.

What I’ve Learned About Venture Funding

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VC funding. Our perspectives on the topic wax and wane with market cycles.

Venture Outlook 2016

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There is a lot of uncertainty about the state of the private, high-growth technology markets and the venture capital markets that underpin them.

Half Lives. Social Media. And Snapchat Stories.

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I’ve been online for nearly 30 years (yes, there was CompuServe and Prodigy before the www), blogging for 10 and using social media tools since the earliest days. I love to watch networks evolve, see how crowds gather and communicate and curate and share.

Why Successful People Focus on the Bottom End of the Funnel

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Business leaders have many tasks to accomplish and prioritizing stuff can be hard.

Why the LP Outlook is Good for Venture and Startups in 2017–2020

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Every year Upfront Ventures surveys Limited Partners (LPs) who are the main source of capital that invests in VC funds and thus the main source of capital that goes to startups to get an early-warning sense of the year ahead, leaving aside any Black Swans.

Why Great Executives Avoid Shiny Objects

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The modern world is filled with constant distractions. Only those with maniacal focus on results and a willingness not to engage in every activity achieve extraordinary results. As executives we’re all seemingly accessible at any moment to anybody via email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Text. We are over-intro’d and at the same time under-resourced in terms of staff to handle the barrage of in-bound requests.

Making Sense of the Stock Market Drops in Relation to Venture Financing

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If you didn’t notice that the stock markets in the US dropped nearly 4% today (after falling last Thursday and Friday) then you were probably completely off-the-grid and on vacation. It was a nerve racking morning. My favorite Tweet of the morning came from Hunter Walk.

Why Computer Vision Tracking the Flow of People Will be a Huge Market

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Density laser tracking above a doorway As I’ve written before I believe Computer Vision will become a major factor as a Human-Computer Interface (1) as sensors and cameras help us make sense of our physical world.

What Do LPs Think of the Venture Capital Markets for 2016?

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At the Upfront Summit in early February, we had a chance to have many off-the-record conversations with Limited Partners (LPs) who fund Venture Capital (VC) funds about their views of the market.

What Everyone Should Take Away from Twitter’s 8% Staff Reductions

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Today Twitter announced it had laid off around 336 jobs or 8% of its workforce. Nobody should celebrate, cheer or shout, “it’s about time.”

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What is The Best Way to Explain Your Startup?

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Anybody who reads the blog regularly will know that I’m long video. I’ve made 5 investments in the sector and I hope to make 5 more. Between the US & Europe alone the video sector is worth around $500 billion.

How I Promise You One of the Most Meaningful Days of Your Life

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I know the title “I promise you one of the most meaningful days of your life” sounds grandiose but I mean it and I hope you’ll read through to the end and choose to take one small, totally free action, that will change your life and likely those of others.

How the Hell do I Prioritize Work, Blog & Find Balance?

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I noticed this post today from Ezra Galston titled “ Dear Brad, Fred & Mark: How The Hell Do You Do It?

The Most Misunderstood Facts About Building a Business on YouTube

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Any reader of this blog for a period of time will know that I’ve been long YouTube for years.

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The Coming Shift in Enterprise Software

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How to Decrease the Odds That Your Startup Fails

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Many startup businesses – tech or otherwise – fail. In our industry we applaud the efforts for entrepreneurs to have tried and we know that today’s failure can bring the experience for tomorrow’s success.

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Why Most Online Video Companies Will Fail

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I live in LA and fund startups. So you can imagine that I see a lot of video startups. Most will fail. I repeat the same mantra to every one I see. “You can’t build a large online video company. You have to build a large online tech company that distributes video.”

The Silent Benefits of PR

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I’ve been having this PR discussion with three separate portfolio companies at once so I thought I’d just publish my thoughts more broadly. I have written many times about PR so if you want a deep dive on the “how” of PR you may enjoy reading some of these posts.

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The Very First Startup Founder You Need to Invest in is You

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This week I wrote about obsessive and competitive founders and how this forms the basis of what I look for when I invest. I had been thinking a lot about this recently because I’m often asked the question of “what I look for in an entrepreneur when I want to invest?”

Invest 151

Doing the Right Thing > Doing Things Right

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It’s easy to find yourself caught in the trap of just GSD (getting s**t done) and not stepping back to be thoughtful about whether you’d benefit from doing fewer things but doing those things truly well.