Back in 2005, Meritech Capital Partners knew that it wanted to invest in a social networking company. So it entered into negotiations for a later-stage round in MySpace. Before the deal was closed, however, News Corp. swept in and bought Tom and all of his connections for $500 million.
So Meritech moved on to Plan B: An investment in Facebook. The firm and Greylock co-led a $27.5 million investment at a $500 million valuation (pegged to the MySpace acquisition figure). When Facebook went public in 2012, Meritech’s stake (which it later expanded) was valued at more than $1.5 billion. Right thesis, wrong pick and then a fortuitous turn of events. Proving that venture capital is always one part skill and one part luck.”
Richard Bracken on leadership.
McKinsey’s Insights & Publications: Leading in the 21st century: An interview with HCA CEO Richard Bracken
[Saw this on Twitter with no source. Republishing here because it is hilarious. Oh yeah, publishing this is not meant to represent any particular personal political view]
I recently asked my friends’ little girl what she wanted to be when she grows up. She said she wanted to be President of the United States. Both her parents, liberal democrats, were standing there. So I asked her, “if you were President, what you be the first thing you do?” She replied, “I’d give food and houses to all the homeless people.” Her parents beamed.
"Wow…what a worthy goal," I told her. "But you don’t have to wait until you’re President to do that. You can come over to my house and mow the lawn, pull weeds, and sweep my driveway, and I’ll pay you $50. Then I’ll take you over to the grocery store where the homeless guy hangs out, and you can give him the $50 to use toward food and a new house."
She thought that over for a few seconds, then she looked me straight in the eye and asked, “Why doesn’t the homeless guy come over and do the work, and you can just pay him the $50?” I said, “Welcome to the Republican Party.”
Her parents still aren’t speaking to me.
I met Roger Ehrenberg in December 2008 while still a student at Columbia Business School. I had discovered Roger through his blog and met him while serving as president of Columbia’s PEVC club at our annual conference. At the time Roger was a prolific angel investor with nearly 40 portfolio companies. Back in 2008 ‘super angels’ behaved much like today’s seed stage venture capitalists - leading deals, structuring syndicates, taking board seats.
After a few months and numerous annoying emails, Roger agreed to meet me for a lunch at which I proposed how I could bring support and organization to his angel investing as well as serve as an operational and business resource to his portfolio (as I had done previously during an internship with one of his angel investments). Our lunch catalyzed more discussions, eventually leading to contract work where I split my time heading up operations and finance for a company we were incubating as well as helping Roger with his angel investing. I moved to the investment side of the business full time when we launched IA Ventures in early 2010.
When I joined Roger in mid-2009, I could only dream of my month-to-month contract employment turning into a full time venture capital role. At the time, nothing seemed more exciting or appealing in the world. Four and a half years later, I’d be lying if I said the job of venture capitalist is anything but extraordinarily interesting and fun.
And yet, after four and a half life changing years, I’ve decided it is time to move on to my next adventure.
My wife recently gave birth to our second child and first son, Leo Henry. The birth of a child puts things into perspective and offers a unique opportunity to introspect and think about what is important. During my wife’s pregnancy I spent lots of time thinking about the long arc of my career. Since my days as a child, my parents always encouraged me to take the long-term perspective; to make decisions as if they were investments in my future. I’ve tried to live my life this way. My career is a marathon, not a sprint. Each step along the way provides new opportunities to amass skills and capacities; tools in a tool kit to do increasingly more productive and meaningful things.
After long deliberation, and in consultation with my partners, I’ve decided it is time for me to make a move. I’ll be leaving IA at the end of the month and taking some time to spend with my family and newborn son before starting my next opportunity. I am leaving on good terms and will be working closely with my colleagues over the next few weeks to ensure a smooth and seamless transition.
The decision to leave IA, while extremely difficult, came down to my strong desire to gain more line experience as an operator - experience I know I will enjoy immensely and will make me a stronger professional in the long-term. One of the hardest parts of being a VC is knowing that you influence and enable, but you don’t execute and build. I hope to spend the next few years executing and building.
My time at IA has been nothing short of remarkable. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in raising two venture funds, made over 35 initial investments, dozens of follow-on investments, and have served on the boards of nine companies (six as board representative, three as observer) which have raised tens of millions of dollars and employ hundreds of people working towards their goals of changing the world for the better.
I’m forever thankful to Roger, Brad and the entire IA family for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime to learn and grow as a person and professional in profound ways. I am also so incredibly thankful to the amazing entrepreneurs, colleagues and friends with whom I’ve had the privilege to work with over the past four and a half years. Words cannot describe the impact you have had, the lessons you have taught, and the happy moments you have inspired. It has truly been an honor and a pleasure.
And now I look to the future with a little bit of trepidation and a whole lot of excitement…