Last thought first: How do we follow all of these great mentors and writers? Here’s a Twitter List to Follow <- Subscribe there and you’ll get all of their posts
I’ve spent years, week after week, dropping to entrepreneurs some of the names of VC blogs and bloggers I love. In every Incubator and session I support, Tonguz, Mark Suster, Paul Graham, and Greylock roll off my tongue easier than how you might pronounce Tomasz’s name.
It finally dawned on me to write-up a list only discover that one of my favorite articles, the reason I cite Greylock Partners, isn’t actually an article written by Greylock.
Glenn Kelman, mea culpa; I love the idea of the Maximum Viable Product and, dear readers, so should you. In my defense, the Editor’s Note in your 2016 introduction of the idea on Techcrunch mentions Greylock Partners so… there you go.
Let me start in Texas with Michael Girdley. Managing director of the Geekdom Fund, an early stage venture capital firm focusing on tech. Michael also sits on the boards of multiple companies including Codeup, the RealCo Seed Fund Program, Grok and Alamo Fireworks. Previously, his career spanned engineering and marketing roles at RSA Security, BEA WebLogic and Codeup. I’ve had some great discussions with Michael, good perspective and insight; he’s gracious with his time and experience but what I love about him is that his insight is bite sized and, in particular, conscientious of the value of time. For example: Want that meeting? Give. Don’t take.
I had the pleasure of sharing a few coffees with Tomasz Tunguz early in our respective careers. He’s with Red Point Ventures, write frequently, and tends to be data-driven about the challenges founders face. Case in point? Apparently Series A rounds are much easier to raise than they’ve been in the past few years. Agree?
First Round Capital’s The Review is like a media brand for startups; which is, frankly, why I like it so much… that, and the fact that Rob Hayes was so influential in my early perspective of startups. They tell stories. This is really a blog to which you should subscribe just for the experience of the quality content and the way in which they expose and explore so many people, brands, and narratives. Evidence of that that’s a reflection of my own passion for culture in entrepreneurship? Start with how the culture of your venture is almost entirely a result of the founder.
Intel Capital’s Christine Herron shares great thoughts about once a year (she’s far more active on Twitter) but when she does, such as on how changing the ratio in angel investing can drive gender balance in entrepreneurs or whether streaming music is a gateway drug for the music industry, she sparks serious consideration.
Mark Suster joined Upfront Ventures in 2007 and since then has been well-known for Both Sides of the Table. A must-subscribe as it tends to be just that: perspective for readers on the point of view of investors and founders. Notably and recently, I needed some grounding on how Bird Scooters was really worth putting $300MM into. Question answered.
Fred Wilson is A VC at Union Square Ventures. Best I recall, he’s been writing longer than any and I’m amused to note that we both started tweeting about the same time. His style is that of the traditional blogger as he’ll interweave personal posts with news and guides. The pragmatic and mathematical way in which he explores employee equity grants led me to treat equity as merely currency, not ownership, of a company.
Benedict Evans is a VC with Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and I look at his voice as a bit of the more bleeding edge of technology. Sorry to use the buzzword, you get my meaning. Andreessen Horowitz focused on technology startups so it seems he’s always looking at the future: Smart Homes, LIDAR, Machine Learning… Practically speaking? I like how he uses real world examples to explore tangible issues founders face, such as how to really think about market size (reminds me of my golf analogy).
Jalak Jobanputra’s The Barefoot VC really dove in early on inclusion and in depth on blockchain and ICOs. Jalak is the founding partner of FuturePerfect Ventures and I’m hoping she comes back the keyboard as the blog has been dark since the new year. Keep an eye.
I stood in a room of about 40 startup students recently and introduced Why Startups Fail; no, How Startup Fail. And as I’ve done a million times, I referred to some of Graham’s great work on the issue. The facilitator of the program appropriately interjected, “Who’s Paul Graham? I wouldn’t think we all know,” and I had a brain fart. Um… you know… that guy. Paul Graham – founder and former president of Y Combinator. Y Combinator which launched such companies as Airbnb and Dropbox… yeah, that guy. If you’re like me in that you’ve been working on the internet since the 90s, you’ll appreciate that his site is a reminder of how things like Craigslist and Reddit are so explosively powerful – the compelling experience is more important than that it looks designed to the nines. I’ve read his work a few times through that I often don’t even realize how much I’m influenced by him: “A startup is a company designed to grow fast.”
Bill Gurley has been with Benchmark Capital, often in the most complicated of new ventures – two-sided marketplaces. He too uses data and perspective (perhaps you’re seeing a trend in why I like so many of these authors) but the bottom line is that if you’re a market oriented ventures, follow, Above the Crowd.
Gotham Gal Joanne Wilson is an angel focused on female founded/led companies. She’s also the founder of the Women’s Entrepreneur Festival and has been a bit of an inspiration about the convergence of media. Podcasting (Producing is Problem Solving touching on the film industry) and writing (Your Name Should Not Be Your Company Name or Do Investors Do More than Just Give Capital?), Wilson is leading the ways in which investors and entrepreneurs engage.
Techstars’ founder Brad Feld shares his Thoughts about his interests in education and books as well as what’s pertinent here, our interest in startups. He’s a friend and frequent voice added to the thoughts of others such as his recent reinforcement of Fred Wilson’s observation about Capital and Talent, or a study of some of Ben Horowitz’s thoughts:
“Every time you work on something new, whether it’s a new feature, a new product, or a new product line,” he notes in The Illusion of Product/Market Fit For Saas Companies, “recognize that you are searching for incremental product/market fit. The search is a continuous and never-ending quest. Don’t confuse illusion with reality.”
I don’t want to overlook someone who used to blog a lot but doesn’t much anymore, particularly because he was a big thinker who inspired the way in which I do the same. Chris Dixon last wrote on his blog, The Babe Ruth Effect in Venture Capital, an important perspective on Venture Capital Firms in which he notes, “Great funds not only have more home runs, they have home runs of greater magnitude.” Today, Chris is a good follow on Twitter, also a way I’m going to wrap up this list for you and make it easy to follow everyone.
Before I wrap, a few that don’t write frequently but might catch your attention, David Cowan from Bessemer with Who Has Time for This, David Skok writes For Entrepreneurs and he should probably appear in my more in-depth list about but I haven’t read him enough to have perspective, Ben Horowitz (mentioned above) doesn’t write frequently with his last being about Sales people and commissions, but he’s the author of The Hard Thing about Hard Things and that’s something you should read.
Back home to my neck of the woods in Texas, in Austin, Gordon Daugherty’s Shockwave Innovations is an always exceptional dive into questions weighing entrepreneurs and investors. A few of note: A Series A Isn’t Just a Large Seed Round, The 8 Personas of Successful Entrepreneurs – Which Are You? (a question I think my team and I should explore), and Preparing for a Pitch.
As of July 2018, that’s my list. I’ll likely evolve the post, I encourage your suggestions if I’ve missed anyone, and you can rest assured this footnote will update as I make revisions.
Last thought: How do we follow all of these great mentors and writers? Here’s a Twitter List to Follow <- Subscribe there and you’ll get all of their posts