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The Changing Venture Landscape

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The world around us is being disrupted by the acceleration of technology into more industries and more consumer applications. Society is reorienting to a new post-pandemic norm?—?even even before the pandemic itself has been fully tamed.

Introducing Trust, and the Importance of Product-Founder Fit

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Photo by Vanna Phon on Unsplash Customer acquisition is the lifeblood of many startups from e-commerce to gaming to marketplace companies, among others.

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How I Gamified My Own Brain to Lose Weight & Improve Fitness

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Socially distant hiking in Sedona (we drove there) I recently wrote about my weight-loss journey over the past 18 months where I lost 65 pounds without a fad diet and returned to my college weight. If you want to get in better shape and haven’t read that you might start there.

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How I Lost 65 Pounds In 18 Months Without Any Fad Diets or Gimmicks

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June 2019 (left) and November 2020 (right) I’ve been reluctant to write this blog post because historically I don’t like talking about weight. But I’ve been promising to publish how I lost 65 pounds in the past 18 months without any fad diets or gimmicks to try and be helpful to others.

Can You Ask for Office Rent Relief? How to Manage Your Lease During COVID-19

Office leases are one of companies’ largest expenses, and if your whole team is working from home with no clear end in sight, you may be wondering what to do about your lease.

What Mistakes Do VCs Make When Fundraising?

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A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of talking to Samir Kaji on the Venture Unlocked podcast about a wide range of topics that we as venture capitalists think about everyday, including: How to build a generational firm?—?retaining

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Playing the Long Game in Venture Capital

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Silicon Valley and the media industry that surrounds it values youth. The culture is driven by the 20-something irreverent founder with huge technical chops who in a “David vs. Goliath” mythology take on the titans of industry and wins.

On Funding?—?The Denominator Effect

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On Funding?—?The The Denominator Effect I recently wrote a post about funding for investors to think about having a diversified portfolio , which I called “shots on goal.”

How You Can Achieve a Step Change in Your Fitness Before Summer

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Just 21 months ago I couldn’t have jogged 2 miles in under 20 minutes and now I can run 3 miles in 21 minutes or more to the point I can pretty easily run 7.5 miles in an hour.

On Funding?—?Shots on Goal

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On Funding?—?Shots

There’s Still Time to Commit to Your 2021 Health & Fitness Plan

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It’s March 1st as I write this*. The year is two months in. Seems like just a moment ago it was New Year’s Day and we were all committing to our better selves for 2021 as so many of us do.

What I Ate on My Weight Loss Journey of 2020

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Yesterday I wrote about my weight loss journey of the past 18 months where I lost 65 pounds in 18 months with no gimmicks or fads. No paleo, keto, intermittent fasting?—?just just sensible eating. If you didn’t read the post it might be worth clicking on the above link.

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Kara Nortman Was Just Promoted to Co-Managing Partner at Upfront Ventures. Here’s What it All Means

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Today we’re announcing that my partner Kara Nortman is becoming Co-Managing Partner at Upfront Ventures and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to welcome her to her new role.

How Valence Aims to Provide Better Access and Funding for Black Founders & Executives

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“I gotta say it was a good day.” I’m so fricking pumped today. Really, truly. Yeah, Valence announced > $5 million in funding led by GGV and Upfront. That IS a big deal, but I’ll get to that. But Kamala Harris was picked to be the Vice Presidential candidate for the Democratic Party.

Funding in the Time of Coronavirus

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I am due to speak at the SaaStr conference next week: Wednesday, March 11th at 10:45 AM. I had originally signed up to talk about the “VC Market Trends” overall but it seemed inauthentic to speak about VC funding without addressing the virus in the room.

How to Make Sense of the PPP Loan Program for VC-Backed Startups

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There is so much confusion and misinformation out there about the government sponsored “payroll protection plan” loans to companies that the heads of every small business CEO in the country must be spinning.

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My Thoughts on the Current Market: on 20-Minute VC

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Several years ago I made an appearance in a burgeoning new podcast called “20 Minute VC,” which by now needs no introduction. Harry was gracious enough to invite me back so this past week we recorded an episode discussing the current market environment.

A Bigger Truth About Restaurant Food Delivery

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Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash I was listening to Dan Primack’s podcast on Pro Rata and he was interviewing Senator Klobucher who is now publicly and vocally speaking out against Uber purchasing Grubhub and has tried to mobilize against this.

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Bevy is Emerging as a Leader in Software for Building Virtual Communities???with $15 million to?

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Bevy is Emerging as a Leader in Software for Building Virtual Communities?—?with

Why Has Seed Investing Declined? And What Does this Mean for the Future?

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Seed investments are down by any measure (funds, deals, dollars) over the past 3 years in deals < $1 million AND in deals between $1–5 million. What gives? Over the past month a colleague ( Chang Xu ) and I sifted through data on the venture capital industry (as we do every year) and made a bunch of calls to VCs and LPs to confirm our hypotheses.

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Why Meg Whitman is Betting on Quibi as“The Da Vinci Code of Content”

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Every year, a personal Upfront Summit highlight is getting to sit down with experts in a field I care about.

Remind Me Why I Love You? (Why “In Person” is Everything)

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You had an amazing meeting with an investor. Your product demo crushed. The dialog was great. They told you how much they loved your space. The meeting was only supposed to last 45 minutes but you ran 90. The assistant tried to end the meeting twice but was shoooshed away. You race back to the office to tell everybody how well it went and you wait for the follow-up call to have a partners’ meeting or talk about term sheets or at least dip into due diligence. One week. Two weeks. Oh, fork.

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Why you should never have a data room — the most counter-intuitive fund-raising advice you’ll ever…

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Why you should never have a data room?—?the the most counter-intuitive fund-raising advice you’ll ever get I’m about to offer you some fund-raising advice that flies directly in the face of what most conventional wisdom will tell you. If you stick through to the end I’m guessing I can persuade most of you. Let me start out with my premise: “Data rooms are where fund-raising processes go to die.” I have to back up and give you more context.

A Deep Dive into What Has Really Changed in Venture Capital

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I’ve heard a lot of people question whether there is too much money in venture capital chasing too few great deals. “We’re We’re in a new tech bubble!” some have pronounced. Valuations are out of control” is the mantra of others. Others believe that new business models are emerging that could replace venture capital all together.

Hard Decisions Require Empathy

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In the past two weeks we have entered perhaps to most surreal experience in any of our lives. I think intuitively many of us believe it may be a more lasting impact than just “60 days at home,” which is why we almost have a nervous laughter when we call (Zoom!) somebody we haven’t spoken to since before the crisis and acknowledge how bizarre we all feel right now.

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How to Improve Your Odds of Getting to Yes with a VC — “Land and Expand”

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If you’ve read any of my ongoing series on fund raising from venture capitalist (episode 1?— ?controlling controlling your psychology ) you no doubt have heard me say that raising capital is a sales & marketing process.

How to Talk About Valuation When a VC Asks

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One of the hardest things about the fund-raising process for entrepreneurs is that you’re trying to raise money from people who have “asymmetric information.” VC firms see thousands of deals and have a refined sense of how the market is valuing deals because they get price signals across all of these deals. As an entrepreneur it can feel as intimidating as going to buy a car where the dealer knows the price of every make & model of a car and you’re guessing at how much to pay.

High Functioning vs. Low Functioning Startup Boards

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I’ve sat on many boards over the past 2 decades and seen my share of high-functioning boards and low-functioning boards. Here are some observations I have from this exposure: If a company moves from strength-to-strength with predictable outcomes, easy financings, low staff turn-over, limited competitive threats then the composition of the board probably doesn’t matter as much.

How Many Investors Should You Talk to in a VC Fund Raise? And How Do You Prioritize?

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This is part of a series of advice for founders who need to raise money from venture capitalists. The first in the series is “ Lemons Ripen Early ,” which also has a link to other posts. The most important advice I could give you before you set out in fund raising mode is to understand that fund-raising a sales & marketing process and needs to be managed. Somehow many first-time founders equate “sales” with something that is beneath them.

One Simple Way to Eliminate Distractions in a Board Meeting

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Photo by ROBIN WORRALL on Unsplash Several members of your executive taken hours to prepare board materials so that you can inform your board of how things have gone since you last met 3 months ago and you have 3 hours together to make sure they have an accurate picture and to make sure you have their input into how to proceed in the months ahead. Given how seldom you come together you’d imagine you’d have the boards’ full attention during this time. Most likely you’d be wrong.

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My Commencement Speech?—?Life at Your Crossroads

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My Commencement Speech?—?Life Life at Your Crossroads Photo by Justin Luebke on Unsplash Crossroads Cal Poly Pomona! What’s up!?! I’m so grateful to be up here addressing you today. Today you’re either here to graduate or support somebody graduating. A graduate is at his or her first major crossroad in life. You are faced with decisions about which road to take. That is the theme of my speech today. My 8 tips for the crossroads you will face.

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Three Bitcoin Billionaires Share Their Story of How They Moved Early into the Asset Class

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At the recent Upfront Summit my partner Stuart Lander had the opportunity to show some California Love and interview three of the wealthiest Bitcoin owners, each of whom were some of the earliest owners in the asset class and who haven’t sold any of their holdings. It’s an extraordinary story ranging from Jaime who studies cryptography in college to Bryan who was early in selling products on Silk Road to Steven owns 179,000 Bitcoin worth more than $2 billion.

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How to Out Amazon, Amazon

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There has always been tension between CPG (consumer packaged goods) companies and the retailers who sell their products to consumers. If a consumer will pay a fixed price for a product or service then the battle over who gets the margin in any sale is between the person who merchandises a product and the person who manufactures it. This is an age-old marketplace tension where leverage often determines the value captured. This is true whether it’s physical products or media products.

What Did I Learn From the First VC Check I Ever Wrote?

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I became a VC 12 years ago in 2007 when the pace of deals was much slower. I had just left Salesforce.com where I was VP, Products, after they had acquired my second startup. As I was trying to figure out the role I wanted to play in the VC world I decided I wanted to focus on businesses that were building deeply technical products to solve problems for business users.

The One Thing That Great Leaders Understand

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One Thing That Great Leaders Understand I was scanning Twitter this past week and I came across these great Tweets by Michael Seibel at Y Combinator. When I was young I thought management was about distribution/delegation of responsibilities. I now realize it is truly about the maintenance of morale and motivation. Morale and motivation are moving targets that require consistent and proactive effort to maintain.

How to Run an Effective Networking Dinner

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Photo by Juliette F on Unsplash Networking is a critical part of relationship building and there is no event more valuable to building relationships than the proverbial “breaking of bread” with people. I personally run many group lunches & dinners and I attend even more so I’ve developed a set of tips I often pass along in how to make these the most effective they can be.

How to Be a Good Board Member

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I have been writing a series on how startup boards get selected, who sits on them and what to avoid. I will also delve into how to prepare for them, how to make the meeting effective and how to best follow up to make sure people take action. Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash In response to one of my posts I saw this great Tweet by Bilal Zuberi and it resonated.

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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.

Managing Your Startup Board?—?A Short Presentation

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Managing Your Startup Board?—?A A Short Presentation I was invited to do a keynote presentation at the Khosla Ventures CEO Summit this week in Sausalito. It was an amazing gathering of some of the most ambitious early-stage CEO’s looking to make a dent in fields related to healthcare, biology, AI and other transformative fields. It’s encouraging to know that there are still great VC firms like KV that are looking to make these short of big bets on shaping the future.

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The Truth About the Scooter Economy?—?An Insider’s Perspective

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The Truth About the Scooter Economy?—?An An Insider’s Perspective “Bird Zero” that are custom designed by the company There is a story arc of the electric scooter market that took the world by storm in 2018, was second-guessed late in the year and has quietly re-emerged as a powerful force of growth where few really appreciate the speed and scale of what has happened. I’d like to share some insights with you.

The VC Inclusion Clause #MovingForward

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Upfront Ventures has a deep-seated commitment to equality in funding & building diverse teams across all ethnicities, nationalities and genders. We do this not just because it’s the right thing to do but also we believe it will help drive large and differentiated returns. In 2017 we began inserting an “Inclusion Clause” into our term sheets because we believe that the culture one establishes at the earliest stages of one’s business will set out the course of how it will grow and develop.

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. 10 years ago we found ourselves trying to persuade LPs and VCs that it was worth spending more time getting to know the LA market and now the most common refrain that I hear from them is “there really is something going on in LA.” Don’t we know it. It’s not just Snapchat, although there’s that.

This is the Dumbest Op Ed I’ve Read in a While

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I understand that Adam Grant is a fairly popular professor at Wharton and has a book that some people loved called “Originals” (for me it interesting but not mind blowing, and I have some first-hand knowledge of some of its inaccuracies). Having read his latest op-ed on email I know why I erred towards the side of of not loving his book as much as some did. I think his advice is this op-ed is bananas.