The Future of VC and Lessons from Village Global

I was delighted to chat with Samir Kaji on his podcast Venture Unlocked about the history and strategy of Village Global, and a range of other inside baseball VC topics like portfolio construction. We launched the firm a few years ago; it’s been an amazing journey. Here’s the Spotify link or in Apple Podcasts. And embedded below.

By the way, if you’re starting a company this summer, apply to our Accelerator for a personalized, white glove experience alongside our investment. And also: A few months ago, we announced a $125 million Fund II.

Disclaimer: This presentation does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any security. No representation is being made that any investor or portfolio will, or is likely to, achieve profits or losses similar to those discussed. Targets discussed have been established based on several assumptions that may vary depending on the type of investment.  There is no guarantee that the conditions on which such assumptions are based will materialize as anticipated and will be applicable to Village Global’s portfolio investments.

Two Podcast Interviews: Michael Balaoing (Public Speaking Coach) and Elliot Shmukler (Legendary PM)

I recently interviewed two interesting people on the Village Global podcast (you can find it in any podcast player).

Michael Balaoing, founder of Candlelion, is an A+ public speaking and oral communications coach who’s helped me a great deal. Few people have been as instrumental to my ability to deliver speeches or presentations at a high level. In the conversation we discuss:

– The importance of the acronym WTF (what’s the feeling?) when you’re giving a presentation.
– The four roles that you take on as a speaker: captain, pilot, guide, and game show host.
– The five questions to ask when seeking feedback on a presentation.
– How to keep the audience engaged throughout a talk, not just during the Q&A at the end.
– How to bake stories into your presentations and remix your talks for different audiences.
– The keys to virtual communication in the COVID era.

I also led a conversation with Elliot Shmukler, a legendary product management exec in Silicon Valley who’s helped build LinkedIn, Instacart, and Wealthfront. When I was working at LinkedIn, I recall noticing that Elliot was frequently the smartest person in the room (or so it seemed to me). We’re thrilled to be investors in his new company, Anomalo, and in the conversation we discuss:

– How growth marketing has evolved over the last decade or so since he was an early pioneer of the field at LinkedIn in 2008.
– What people misunderstand about A/B testing, and the right way to go about it.
– Why he doesn’t like the term “growth hacking.”
– Why people should both be more humble and more ambitious with their growth marketing program.
– Lessons from his time at LinkedIn, eBay, Wealthfront, and Instacart.
– Finding a co-founder before finding the idea that became Anomalo.
– The perils of bad data and how Anomalo is helping to fix that problem.

Podcast Interview on the Full Ratchet About Village Global

I recently did an interview on The Full Ratchet podcast and described the story of Village Global and got into a bunch of detail on our strategy and thesis.

My Fireside Chat with Mark Pincus

We’re honored to have Mark Pincus back us at Village Global. He’s one of the most creative and energetic founders in the Valley. I’ve known Mark for a long time. I really enjoyed the opportunity to chat with him in this fireside chat (embedded below) where he covers his entrepreneurial career to date and lessons learned, the founding of Zynga, his philosophies on product management, and more.

Most VC Firms Are Fragile Partnerships, Not Institutions

A tweetstorm I published last week…

Marketing people at venture firms are always trying to figure out if they should be promoting the firm brand or the personal brands of the individual GP partners. Are there venture firm brands that are “bigger” than the individual GPs’ personal brands?

Brands that are arguably bigger than any one person include Sequoia, Greylock, Accel, Kleiner, etc. Multi-generational performance over 40+ years. But will newer VC firm brands ever outshine the underlying individual personal GP brands in a shorter period of time?

It’s rare because the VC business model is so individualistic: individual GPs, masters of the universe, eating what they kill, serving on boards solo, etc. VC firm “partnerships” are often collections of individuals more than a team (despite what they say).

This dynamic has been compounded by a modern media environment that amplifies *individual voices*. Corporate Twitter accounts suck. Authentic, personal, human voices rule. I doubt there’s a venture firm corporate Twitter account with more followers than any popular GP.

To be sure, VCs themselves tend to know all the firm brands and the associated inside baseball. But founders I speak to often know the names of human GPs first, and firm names second (if at all). “I want to pitch @rabois” more than “I want to pitch Founders Fund”

If you’re creating a new VC firm today, should you just do away with the notion of building a firm brand altogether? Look at what @toddg777 and @rahulvohra named their new venture firm: The Todd and Rahul Angel Fund Should more venture firm names simply be the names of the GPs?

The firm-wide brands that endure and outshine personal GP brands have to, in substance, operate as an institution greater than the sum of the parts (i.e. not driven by individual star GPs). Example “institutions” would be @ycombinator, @villageglobal, @join_ef, @JoinAtomic.

For LPs who want to invest in venture, in a concentrated set of relationships over a long period of time, this means they’re often investing in either a) fragile large firms, or b) stable small firms run by the founding GPs.

Large firms are fragile because GPs take their value with them when they leave. Startup founders follow human GPs. The firm brand is weak. There’s no *organization* for the LP to invest in for years and years that has a moat independent of specific GPs.

Small firms run by the founding GPs are stable because the founders won’t move/leave (usually). So the personal brand capital accrues entirely and permanently to the firm. But some larger LPs struggle with this option because it’s hard to deploy large dollar amounts into small funds.

It’s for this reason that I’m bullish (and admittedly biased) in favor of the new firms formed as “institutions” not only because of how they can add value to founders, but also for how they can serve as more reliable long term stewards of LP capital.