Category: Uncategorized


Box, Uber and 29-cent Tacos

Posted on 16th July, by josh in Uncategorized. No Comments

My twitter is alive today with stories of Box, now offering *unlimited* file storage for just $35.  What a deal!  Consumers love the idea of getting storage, which we all know costs real money, for a low fixed price, right?

Almost as much as I like me some UberX for half the cost of a crappy taxi.  And given that the price drops a further 25% with every new fundraise, we are asymptotically approaching free car service.  Who doesn’t like free transportation?

Still, I’m reminded of my view when Taco Bell offers a value menu with 29 cent tacos:  beware buying ‘food’ at a price for far less than it would obviously cost to make food.  If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably not true.

What do I think on Box?   I think maybe they’ve designed … Read More »


What’s the Big Idea?

Posted on 11th July, by josh in Uncategorized. No Comments

“To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.” — Steve Jobs

 

Conventional wisdom in the entrepreneurial community says that ideas are not valuable.

Let me tell you, as a wannabe entrepreneur without an idea of what you want to do … it doesn’t feel easy. I’ve started two businesses, and in both cases it took about 18 months for me to get from “I wish I had a good idea for a business to start” to actually starting a business.

Part of the reason for the conventional wisdom is the higher success rate of businesses started by operating executives, who see an unmet need in their domain or a chasm their employer can’t cross, and they go start that business. As an investor, I would prefer to back a business started by an … Read More »


The Power of Preference

Posted on 18th June, by josh in Uncategorized. 1 Comment

Uber is getting a lot of attention for the eye-popping price of their lastest financing round ($17B, in case you missed it).  It’s amazing to me how many people criticize that it can’t possibly be worth that, while others insist the price is surely too low.  Benedict Evans said it well:  ”It’s hard enough to value a fast-growing company in an entirely new market when you have all the numbers. When you have nothing it’s idiotic.”

In this case, the number is so large that you might learn something from a rough, top-down approach, and I enjoyed this post by Aswath Damodaran on FiveThirtyEight trying to size the opportunity from the top down, and I thought he took a pretty good stab at it.  The HackerNews commenters don’t necessarily agree, primarily with his failure to give Uber … Read More »


On Keeping Notes as a Founder

Posted on 22nd May, by josh in Uncategorized. 1 Comment

 

When Vince Monical and I founded our first company, we had no idea what we were doing.  We knew something about strategy, but hiring, firing, managing, product design, engineering and software development were all pretty much blank slates.  Needless to say, I made a lot of mistakes, and learned more than I have than at any other point in my life.  ”Trial by fire” felt more literal than figurative at times.

Having moved to London to start the company, we had little network to rely upon for advice and guidance.  One figure that stood out was Vince’s father-in-law.  Neither of us were genetically driven to entrepreneurship, being the offspring of teachers and accountants.  But through marrying well, Vince had brought an honest to god entrepreneur, CEO and manager into the bloodline.

I can distinctly recall two pieces of very good … Read More »


Are Great Entrepreneurs Crazy?

Posted on 11th April, by josh in Uncategorized. No Comments

 

 I’ve been thinking a lot about this exchange between two successful investors that popped up in my Twitter feed last week.

To make money as an investor, must you back unreasonable, mercurial, irrational entrepreneurs? This feels on the surface like it has a grain of truth to it. And both these guys have generated spectacular returns in their investment portfolios, so they should know what they are talking about.

Chris is most notable for betting big on Twitter, by acquiring a ton of common stock from employees and former employees, both for himself and on behalf of other investors. I don’t know Ev, Jack or Biz well, so I can’t personally grade them, but given that is Chris’ primary investment, he is likely referring to that. And if you’ve read Hatching Twitter, the book about … Read More »


Regulation and Startups

Posted on 31st March, by josh in Uncategorized. No Comments

 

This post originally appeared in PandoDaily.

How should entrepreneurs (and investors) factor the risks and challenges of regulation into their decision to start a company or invest in one? It doesn’t come up very often — regulation rarely intrudes on the fate of startups. Even if you are in a regulated industry, generally you can fly below the radar for quite a while.

Lately regulation has been in the news with discussions around a number of industries. Drones have entrepreneurs salivating at the disruptive opportunity for unmanned flight to empower delivery of goods, aerial surveillance, and more. Yet, the FAA is concerned about flying objects weighing several pounds or more crashing and injuring people or property. In the automotive industry, Tesla wants to sell cars directly to consumers, arguably in violation of long-standing franchise laws. Finally, … Read More »


The Perfect Valentine

Posted on 15th February, by josh in Uncategorized. No Comments

I’ve found the perfect Valentine’s gift for that geek girl in your life.  Actually, it works fine for non-geeks but given that you are reading my blog, I’m pretty sure your wife or girlfriends is somewhat of a geek.

That gift is a subscription to RocksBox.  It’s an affordable subscription to great jewelry — have something new, fresh and beautiful to wear every day, all for less than $20/month.  Not cheap plastic stuff, but real high quality pieces, generally $100+ pieces with a lot of style.

On behalf of Matrix Partners, I have just led the company’s most recent round of funding, and I couldn’t be more delighted.  When I met the founder Meaghan Rose the first time, I was very impressed, but early stage commerce ideas are hard to evaluate in advance of market data other than … Read More »


In Defense of MBAs

Posted on 11th February, by josh in Uncategorized. No Comments

Dan Primack at Fortune re-started a discussion around whether MBAs make good entrepreneurial founders, based on Chamath’s remarks at an HBS event.

While I’ve commented on this on a Quora answer in the past, I’ll weigh in again… While an MBA certainly doesn’t mean you’re going to be a successful founder, it certainly won’t hurt and it might even help.

I went to Stanford GSB, and a great entrepreneur and professor, Irv Grousbeck, inspired me with the notion that I was qualified to be my own boss, and that the life of an entrepreneur was a virtuous choice.  I am certain that without his inspiration, I would not have chosen that path, and it was one of the most important decisions in my life.  So on your scorecard of MBAs not qualifying founders to start billion dollar companies, we can … Read More »


Q&A: Cold Email

Posted on 18th September, by josh in Uncategorized. 1 Comment

Question:  Will an investor consider an investment via cold email, if that email contains complete info about the business?

In a world of no scarcity, I would read every email from an entrepreneur and take every coffee with them.  I rarely fail to enjoy hearing about someone’s business.  And, if you could remove the financing agenda, I would probably enjoy all of them.  (What I mean is: since I turn down 99 out of 100 investment opportunities, and in general decide quite quickly, I enjoy the meeting itself but that enjoyment is reduced by thinking about having to say no the the entrepreneur, and by the fact that my financing agenda and their fundraising agenda dilutes the quality of discourse in the meeting: they don’t want to talk openly about the things that are likely to kill their … Read More »


Leaving iOS

Posted on 18th September, by josh in Uncategorized. No Comments

After 6 wonderful years, I’ve left iOS for Android.  Thanks Apple, it’s been fun, I have no complaints.   Well, except that you’ve turned the population of people I interact with into robots who stare at their devices for most of the day, but ultimately it’s hard to hold you accountable for that.

My partner @antrod predicted I would flip back within a couple weeks, but it’s not happening.  I inadvertently burned the boats when my wife’s phone got stolen this week, and I gave her my iPhone 5.  No easy way back.

I picked up one of Google’s very cheap, very good Nexus 4 phones ($250 with no contract) and off to the races.

Why switch?

Fingerprints be damned, I think the pace of hardware evolution of the iPhone is slow at this point.  I think Android is gaining steam … Read More »




From the Blog

Box, Uber and 29-cent Tacos

My twitter is alive today with stories of Box, now offering *unlimited* file storage for just $35.  What a deal!  Consumers love the...

What’s the Big Idea?

“To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.” — Steve Jobs

 

Conventional wisdom in the...

The Power of Preference

Uber is getting a lot of attention for the eye-popping price of their lastest financing round ($17B, in case you missed it).  It’s amazing...