Nivi · July 14th, 2007
Sorry we haven’t posted for a few days—we’ll get back to venture hacking this week. In the meantime, here are some hacks from the deep recesses of our personal blogs…
Microsoft bundles its Office applications. Record Labels and Game Publishers bundle cash and distribution. Silicon Valley Venture Capital bundles Advice, Control, and Money. In lean times, you, the entrepreneur, have to buy the bundled good.
Want Cash? It comes bundled with an Advisor on your Board of Directors, like it or not. And they take Control.
Want Advice? VCs won’t take Board seats without putting in Cash – it’s the only way to get enough leverage. And they take Control. Always the Control.
Smart entrepreneurs in times of plenty (like our current financing bubblet), serial entrepreneurs, and those with profitable businesses break apart these bundles. To un-bundle, you must have multiple bidders (that’s a longer entry), and you must have the ability to refuse capital (on Sand Hill Road, collusion is just a lunch away).
Watch out for the bait-and-switch – this is when you interview the gregarious, smart senior partner, who then swaps in the less popular, less experienced partner once you’ve signed them up. And the new person might be cheaper, but not much cheaper.
Put them on fixed-fee per job, especially for closing a financing, and especially for lawyers for the other side (one of the old great VC tricks is that startups pay for the VC’s attorneys in closings! A ridiculous practice justified as being “standard”)
Let’s get serious. Nobody works eighty hours a week. Not eighty real, productive hours. Look closely at workaholics (and I’ve been one, and worked with ones), and a lot of the time is spent idling, re-charging, cycling, switching gears, etc. In the old days this was water-cooler talk. In Silicon Valley, it’s gaming, email, IM, lunches, and idle meetings. Let’s drop the farce, ok?
“Because the process of securing funding forces many potentially disruptive ideas to get shaped instead as sustaining innovations that target large and obvious markets, the very process of getting the money to start a venture actually sends many of them on a march toward failure.”
“… failure to execute operationally is not the only source of risk [in startups]; every venture is also subject to volatility in the price and availability of capital due to the volatility of the stock market. After the collapse of the Internet Bubble, many promising companies foundered because their funding dried up.
… [Warburg Pincus has] supported the multi-year process of building a sustainable business by underwriting all of the capital needed to reach positive cash flow, thereby not only enabling management to focus full-time on the business but also insuring against the risks generated by a volatile stock market.”
“Morons! I know there’s nothing out there. That’s why I want to build the railroad!”