Leadmego

Quotes by Brad Feld

Quotes by Brad Feld

‘Sunspring,’ the first known screenplay written by an AI, was produced recently. It is awesome. Awesomely awful. But it’s worth watching all ten minutes of it to get a taste of the gap between a great screenplay and something an AI can currently produce.
A lot of times, when I interact with someone for the first time, I don’t want to see the presentation.
A rite of passage in America when you turn 50 and have good health insurance is a colonoscopy.
A typical leader has – a natural tendency is to be defensive in the face of a crisis. The first reaction is to blame someone – or something – else. Often, the blame is aimed at something abstract or non-controllable, which often has nothing to do with the crisis but is adjacent to whatever is going on, so it’s an easy target.
Accepting that part of the process of writing is deleting a lot of what you write is soothing, at least to me.
America’s future as the global leader in innovation remains in the balance until our immigration system is fixed. A large portion of a reform package should focus on updating our system to better reflect the business landscape and market realities of the 21st century.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a strong advocate for diversity across all dimensions.
As I continue to believe that innovation and entrepreneurship are the key drivers to our economic future, it’s frustrating to hear such little cogent discussion around it.
As a company grows from 25 to 50 to 100 to 200 to 500 to 1000 people, the characteristics of who is the very best talent in leadership roles will change. It’s rarely the case that your leadership team at 1000 people is the same leadership team you had a 25 people.
As a teenager, my dad taught me about the idea of unintended consequences, and I’ve had the experience, and how to deal with it, pounded into my soul over the years.
As an investor, I’m always looking for the next great American company. Who will create tomorrow’s Twitter, Facebook, or Google?
At Foundry Group, we always look for companies that we think build magic into their products. Occipital has been one of those companies.
Both SOPA and PIPA are toxic. My view is that anyone who supports these bills either doesn’t understand what they are supporting or is simply no friend of innovation. And, if you are no friend of innovation, I can’t support you in any way, as innovation is the lifeblood of our economy, our country, and what I’ve dedicated my life to.
Boulder is a very smart community.
By 2002, I realized that what was classically called a rollup strategy was not generally effective, at least not for me.
By definition, as a company scales rapidly, it adds people quickly.
December used to be very difficult for me. For many years, I fought the transition to the new year, was generally exhausted at the end of the year, and just wanted to hide. I described myself as a ‘cranky Jewish kid who felt left out by Christmas.’
Don’t be afraid to have a big vision, but make sure it’s a clear one.
Ever since I learned about the concept of garbage collection in 6.001 at MIT in 1984 while using Scheme on HP Chipmunks, I’ve always thought of dreaming as the same as garbage collection for a computer.
For a long time, I’ve ranted against naming your startup community ‘Silicon Whatever.’ Instead, I believe every startup community already has a name. The Boulder startup community is called Boulder. The L.A. startup community is called L.A. The Washington D.C. startup community is called Washington D.C.
For those trying to protect the past, it is a way of retaining power, status, money, a way a life, predictability, comfort, control, and a bunch of other things like that. It is a struggle against the inevitability of change.
Governments spend all their time trying to get big companies to relocate their headquarters, and they end up subsidizing the move with tax breaks. And companies that relocate their headquarters are often not meaningful job creators.
Having read my share of tell-alls over the year, including some that were passed off as autobiographies, I mostly feel sad – sometimes for the writer and sometimes for all the people in his way. I hope that the process of writing the tell-all gives some release and closure on what clearly was an unpleasant and unfulfilling life experience.
I believe that all men and women are created equal, but it took our country until 1920 to acknowledge this for women. And then it took until 1964, the year before I was born, to outlaw discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. And same-sex marriage became the law of the land in 2015.
I can now check Oregon off the ‘marathon in every state list.’
I can’t tell you the number of people who pitched something and have no idea whom they are pitching it to. They don’t know the background of the investor.
I don’t read newspapers or watch the news on TV, deliberately to avoid the noise.
I especially love right-now sci-fi: stuff that happens in current time but incorporates a scientific breakthrough that is currently being explored.
I feel like an email cross-dresser – I use a Microsoft product on my Apple product to access my Google product.
I have a long history with Kansas City.
I have no idea what the economics of the movie business is, especially with all the new Amazon, Netflix, Showtime, AMC, SyFy, and HBO series. But I am intrigued with what feels like a new type of show – the six-to-eight-hour movie. It’s a little too long to watch in one setting, but you can watch it over a three- to five-day period.
I have several close friends who are insomniacs. Over the years, I’ve heard their stories about being up in the middle of the night, completely awake. I see them yawn at 11 A.M. and know that, regardless of what they are doing, they’d probably rather be in bed sleeping. I’ve always had sympathy for them, but I’ve never really understood it.
I have shifted my mindset in terms of how companies should… focus on building amazing products. If you have amazing products, the marketing of those products is trivial.
I have trouble sleeping maybe one night a year. On that special night, I get up and read on the couch until I fall asleep.
I hear entrepreneurs use the word ‘disruption’ on a daily basis and continuously hear the cliche change the world.
I hope more cities engage with immigrant entrepreneurs the way St. Louis has – it’s a great model.
I know a lot of companies that have a very well defined post-acquisition process. However, many of them don’t take into consideration the dynamics and personalities of the acquiree. Instead, they assume that everyone will happily be assimilated.
I love dreams.
I love near-term sci-fi. I especially love right-now sci-fi: stuff that happens in current time but incorporates a scientific breakthrough that is currently being explored.
I love using a targeted acquisition approach in conjunction with a business that has a clear strategy and strong organic growth.
I often get asked how I write so much. As any writer knows, the answer is to write a lot more than you actually publish.
I read a lot of science fiction and biography – these are my two favorite genres. My favorite science fiction writers are Hertling, Suarez, Gibson and Stephenson, but I enjoy many others. I dislike reading business books, although I skim a lot of them.
I regularly see leaders change what they say because they get bored of saying the same thing over and over again. It’s not that they vary a few words or change examples, but they change the message.
I separate the world of startup communities into two constituencies – leaders and feeders. The leaders are entrepreneurs and the feeders everyone else.
I talk often about being intrinsically motivated by learning. It’s the primary driver of most of my activity.
I think ‘Shoe Dog’ by Phil Knight is the best memoir I’ve ever read by a business person.
I think one of the brilliant parts of our democracy is how resilient it is. We are each allowed to have our own beliefs and, as long as we follow the rule of law, we can express them however we’d like. This is a unique characteristic of the best democracies and one I value tremendously.
I was afraid people wouldn’t take me seriously, or would stop respecting me, if I talked about how bad I was feeling. The only people I talked openly about it with was my business partner, Dave Jilk, and my girlfriend – now wife – Amy Batchelor. They were amazingly supportive, but even then, I was deeply ashamed about my weaknesses.
I watched my parents act as completely equal partners in their relationship, and as a son to a woman I respect immensely, I never thought of gender inequality as a child.
I wish more LPs would blog to help VCs and entrepreneurs understand them better.
I wonder if, as the tech to deliver content continues to evolve, we will start seeing the one season / 6-8 hour show that ends at a peak moment rather than is cancelled because it sucks.
I would say my whole universe is probably categorized as guerilla marketing. For a long time, I had a line which was, ‘Whenever I hear the word ‘marketing,’ it makes me throw up a little bit in my mouth.’
I’m a huge believer in the importance of vacations for leaders, entrepreneurs, and everyone else. I work extremely hard – usually 70+ hours a week.
I’m a strong believer that you can build great companies in time of both greed and fear. But you have to be paying attention and operating under the right assumptions. You don’t have to believe history repeats itself, but you should accept that history rhymes.
I’m a venture capitalist. I like to say my job is to help and support entrepreneurs. I can play a leadership role, but my organization can’t be the leader.
I’m always fascinated by the dedicated monitors in a hospital. Non-standard cables, funny button shapes, odd LED colors, and lots of extra controls.
I’m an optimistic person, and I tend to bury my cynicism in what I read and the movies I watch. My optimism holds that the good guys eventually come out on top.
I’m glad I get to live in the United States of America.
I’m hugely intrinsically motivated and have always believed that I’m fueled and motivated by learning.
I’m not deeply involved in politics, but about 25% of the people I interact with in politics went to law school.
I’m usually an excruciatingly happy person.
I’m very comfortable in the U.S. and Europe, but I feel completely out of place in the rest of the world, mostly because I never spent time outside the U.S. and Europe until I was in my 30s.
I’ve been traveling more and feel like I’ve figured out a comfortable way to do it. The biggest shift is that I spend my traveling time ‘in the moment,’ I don’t over-schedule when I’m somewhere and instead focus on longer time with less people. I also give myself plenty of me time on the road.
I’ve been using email since 1983. I started with MH and Rmail, then cc:Mail, then Microsoft Mail, with Compuserve mixed in. Eventually, I ended up using Pine for non-Windows stuff and Outlook for Windows stuff. For a while.
If I have a golden touch, I’d also say that I have the opposite of whatever a golden touch is, because I’ve had a lot of things fail. I think part of the experience of being successful is that you have to have a lot of stuff not work.
If the crisis lasts moments, rapid action is critical. But if it’s simply the beginning of a broader issue, especially one where the root cause isn’t known yet, the worst thing a leader can do is act immediately.
If you are feeling some December blues, or even depression, don’t fight it. Instead, do something for yourself. Be reflective. Let the emotions exist. And be encouraged that, like me, you can get to a better place, but it can take time.
If you aren’t going to make your revenue plan, it’s unlikely you’ll make your EBITDA or Net Income plan. You don’t even have to get complicated and look at Gross Margin or more derivative metrics – if you are off in Q1 and have any sort of growth expectations , you are going to miss for the year.
If you don’t have a VP Finance on your team reporting to you, do yourself, your team, and your investors a favor and go hire one right now.
If you sell a physical product, you have a lot of Q4 upside and unpredictability, but now you have to manage your cash to get to Q4 so that you can invest in building inventory to over-perform.
If you’re in a city where there’s no clear startup community, the goal is not raise a bunch of money to fund a nonprofit; the goal is not get your government involved. The goal is start finding the other entrepreneurial leaders who are committed to being in your city over the next 20 years.
Immigrants have historically been an entrepreneurial bunch.
In 2013, when Google announced that Kansas City would be the first city in the country to have Google Fiber, I bought a house in the first neighborhood that was being wired up with Google’s gigabit Internet.
In 2016, you no longer have to be in Silicon Valley to launch a successful startup. Colorado is home to many.
In entrepreneurial circles, it’s clear to me that violence, hatred, and discrimination – or whatever you want to label it – is another category where we need to pay attention to disruption before it changes the world in ways we don’t want it to.
In my world, historical revenue is the least interesting thing to consider in an acquisition strategy.
In my world, historical revenue is the least interesting thing to consider in an acquisition strategy. The goal is to acquire technology that is on your product roadmap or people that fit culturally within your organization and help you execute on your roadmap faster.
In the mid-to-late 1990s, I was an entrepreneur-in-residence at the Kauffman Foundation working with Jana Matthews on ‘learning programs for high growth entrepreneurs.’
It’s much easier to get a reception from someone if there is an introduction versus randomly trying to get in front of people.
It’s time to focus on what I care about and not let the noise take over my brain.
Kauffman Fellows is not necessarily for people just entering the venture industry but for experienced VCs looking to accelerate their growth. The program is centered around established innovation leaders – if you are looking to grow and become a better investor, you should think about doing this program.
Lots of entrepreneurs don’t want to be hassled by a board of directors early on. The entrepreneurs want to control the company, don’t want to be responsible to a board, or don’t want to waste time communicating with board members. This is a classic error of thinking about the early stage board incorrectly.
Many people, companies, and organizations are trying to protect the past at any cost. We see this regularly in business as the incumbent vs. innovator fight, but I think it’s more profound than that. It’s literally a difference in point of view.
My initial desire to blog came from something that’s always been my approach to investing – I’m a nerd, and I love to play with the technology, and part of my approach has really been to understand things both at a user level and at a reasonably deep tentacle level.
My optimism holds that the good guys eventually come out on top.
My view was, if I didn’t like Boulder, I’d keep going west, except I never really wanted to live in the Bay Area.
My weight fluctuates between 205 and 220, depending on how much I pay attention to it.
My wife is a writer. She grew up in Alaska. She told me she was moving to Boulder and that I could come with her if I wanted to. We were married at the time, so I chose to come with her.
Often, entrepreneurs don’t build a board until they are forced to by their VCs when they raise their first financing round. This is dumb, as you are missing the opportunity to add at least one person to the team who – as a board member – can help you navigate the early process of building your company and raising that first round.
On a daily basis, I pay almost no attention to the macro.
One of my core values is diversity of everything.
One of the consistent characteristics of the tech industry is an endless labelling of technology and approaches.
Over the years, I’ve been involved in many business crises. I qualify this, since my crises have never involved life and death or the survival of the human race. But they are still crises.
Part of the power of having startup communities is it continues to challenge the status quo. So for many of these cities that were once very important and powerful that today are struggling, startup communities are a way for them to rejuvenate themselves.
Periodically, at the end of a conversation, someone will ask me, ‘Is there something I can do for you?’ I used to answer with ‘Do something that is helpful to something or someone in my world.’
Q1 is the easiest quarter to make. If you miss your Q1, regardless of the type of revenue you have, you aren’t going to make your revenue plan for the year because your budget process isn’t accurate.
Repeat after me: ‘There is a very limited amount of easy money.’
Silicon Valley has been developing as a startup community for over 60-70 years. This notion that you can create something in two or five years is foolish.
So many companies talk about increasing the number of prospects at the top of the funnel, but they spend remarkably little time making sure actions are taken – on a daily basis – to make sure these prospects convert into paid users.
Some Sundays, I read it quickly – other Sundays, I savor it. I generally spend most of my time in ‘The New York Times Book Review,’ ‘Sunday Business,’ ‘Sunday Review,’ and ‘The New York Times Magazine.’ I turn all the other pages, only stopping when I find a headline that interests me.
St. Louis has a great startup scene and a vibrant business community.
St. Louis is a good example of a vibrant city. Having stayed in a hotel in 2011 overlooking Cardinals stadium when they won the World Series, their fans definitely show up loud and proud.
Stress on fast growing companies comes from a lot of different places. The one that is often the largest, and creates the most second-order issues, is the composition of the leadership team. More specifically, it’s specific people on the leadership who don’t have the scale experience their role requires at a particular moment in time.
Taking a great new idea with an entrepreneurial team that wants to create something significant and trying to build a real company is what is interesting.
Technology doesn’t address everything – for example, air travel still sucks.
That’s the problem with so many organizations around entrepreneurship. They’re driven by metrics that don’t matter.
The first thing that any city that’s trying to create a startup community or an entrepreneurial ecosystem that’s vibrant should do is get rid of the idea that they’re trying to be like Silicon Valley.
The pitch should be very clear about what you are doing, why you are doing it, and why I should care. If you can cover those things quickly and precisely, it’s easy for me to decide whether I want to spend more time with you or not.
The super awesomeness would be a portable teleportation machine that I could take with me. I go wherever I want, and then I can go from there to wherever I want. Instantly. Without having to go through TSA. One can wish.
There are two great fictional TV series about technology and the computer industry that each have now had three seasons. The one everyone knows about is ‘Silicon Valley.’ The lesser-known one is ‘Halt and Catch Fire.’
Think about it for a brief moment. Suspend disbelief. Wind the clock forward 100 years. Do you think, as a species, we will still be struggling with the things that vex us today? Will we still be arguing about the same stuff? We will still be eating Cocoa Puffs? We are at the end of the beginning.
This is something I’ve struggled with a lot: how to relate to the fear in a constructive way. It’s not that you eliminate the fear. We have all the fears. That’s natural; that’s human beings. But how do you deal with the fears, how do you engage with your fears in a way that’s productive?
Twitter has always been that refreshing place where I can quickly find out what is going on in my tech world. I follow mostly entrepreneurs and VCs – some who I know and some who I don’t know. I have a few companies in my feed. But no newspapers, no magazines, and no mainstream media.
Ultimately, the goal is to use acquisitions to compress time on product development and get people on the team, especially in senior roles, who can help build out areas of the company they have experience in.
Usually, the first three months post acquisition are up and down. The acquirer and the acquiree are trying to figure out how to interact. The founders of the acquiree are usually tired from the deal process and adjusting to their new reality.
We should explore ways to make us a more amazing species. A more fascinating society. We should embrace our innovations and evolve with them.
What I’m looking for in my interaction is critical thinking on the part of the person pitching to me.
When I struggled with a depressive episode in 2013, I realized that I had a glitch in my thinking about my own motivation. I had separated learning and teaching into different concepts.
When I think about the books I’ve written, it probably takes 150,000-200,000 words to get a 50,000 page book. Highlighting something and hitting Cmd-X is second nature.
When I was in my mid-20s, running a successful company and clinically depressed, I was afraid to talk to anyone other than my psychiatrist about it. I was ashamed that I was even seeing a psychiatrist.
When the entrepreneur is obsessed with the product and the company has organized all of its activities around that, it’s very powerful.
When we raised the first Foundry Group fund in 2007, we took over 100 first meetings. We told our story several hundred times. As part of it was a slide called ‘Strategy.’ I still repeat the elements of that slide regularly, a decade later, as our core strategy has not changed.
While I live a busy life, the pace ebbs and flows.
While I’d like to be able to simply do all of my financings with a handshake or, possibly, on a napkin written in crayon, I also wish I had a herd of unicorns surrounded by rainbows, a balanced U.S. government budget, and agreement on how to address the debt ceiling issue.
While I’m a venture capitalist who invests in early-stage tech companies, I often feel like a professional emailer and conference call maker.
While I’ve had plenty of ups and downs, dealt with my share of failure, and struggled through emotionally difficult periods, I’m fundamentally an optimist.
While it’s trendy to outsource your accounting to a third party, once you hit a certain size, it’s dangerous.
While the line between stress, deep anxiety, and depression often blurs, most entrepreneurs struggle with broad mental health issues at various points in their lives.
While we should certainly be investing in our own STEM education, we should take advantage of the thousands of international students who come here to study and are ready to fill these gaps immediately upon graduation.

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