As a venture capitalist, I have been privileged to work with some truly great entrepreneurial teams. Running a high-tech startup is one of the hardest jobs on the planet. I applaud entrepreneurs who are doing it and love that I get paid to spend my time helping them. More…
Recently, we hosted an IDG Ventures CIO Tech Demo Day to bring together founders, CEOs, and CIOs for discussions on technology and emerging trends. Attendees comprised a combination of founders from our portfolio companies, CEOs with whom we’ve had long-term relationships, and other VCs with whom we have co-invested. The founders and CEOs delivered presentations to CIOs from Akamai, Cox Communications, Credit Suisse, Hess, Gartner, IDG, Paypal, Vail Resorts, and Vertex. All that experience, leadership, and vision in the room made for engrossing and spirited conversations that led to some valuable insights.
In the last two decades as a venture capitalist, I’ve seen three primary styles of VCs working with startup founders. I found that one of them works best for me, and want to share the alternatives:
1. Mentor: This is a classic “old school” venture capital model. Think John Doerr and Michael Moritz working with Larry Page and Sergei Brin in the early days of Google. The VC is often older, sometimes a repeat entrepreneur, sometimes not. The VC provides lots of hands-on advice and coaching. The interactions between the VC and founder are frequent, and the VC spends much time regularly at the company.
I’ve heard too much hyperbolic talk in the valley of a “Series A Crunch,” meaning startups are currently hard-pressed to raise funding following a seed round. As the blog title suggests, I do not believe there is a Series A crunch.
It’s important to understand the data before being swayed by anecdotal information, on any topic. So let’s take a look at the data here.
The startup world — like any field — has its own lexicon. Living in this world, I am guilty of overusing industry jargon myself. But there are several buzzwords that have become overused and misused to the point they are useless.
Here are three of the most annoying terms I hope will disappear from the startup lexicon soon.
We live in a bubble in Silicon Valley. By this, I mean we often forget that outside of Silicon Valley, the larger population experiences technology differently from us and our neighbors. And this we need to remember when investing in new companies and when starting new businesses focused on consumers, particularly worldwide.
A recent reminder for me was a conversation with my sister-in-law. An East Coaster, quite intelligent, very educated, she asked if I still use that “Errand Bunny” service I previously recommended. After some confusion, I realized she was referring to Task Rabbit, a service for outsourcing small jobs to people in your neighborhood. Sure, Task Rabbit, like Uber, may be a part of our everyday language, but it’s not necessarily familiar to people outside the San Francisco-based tech industry.
Consumerization of IT is one of the areas I’m most excited about these days. The trend has two sides. First, there’s the consumerization of IT within an enterprise, in which employees access corporate data and business systems from their mobile devices. Second, there’s the “enterprise-ation” of IT among consumers, in which anyone with a smartphone can use apps with enterprise functionality.
Business productivity apps are examples of enterprise functionality in the hands of consumers. Here’s a sample of some of the more interesting ones I personally use: