investment stakes

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after about one year on sand hill road, there are a series of learnings that i would like to share with founders. 2012 has been a terrific, fun year. the valley and platforms are changing really quickly. at times, it feels hard to keep up with it. everyday, i get to meet people who are trying to do new things, or trying to make subtle improvements on existing things. it’s all really inspiring, i’m very lucky, and i’m having a blast.

and now, as 2012 closes, and i’ve led a few investments at kp now, i wanted to write this post to share a bit more about what my investment style is. of course, it can change over time, but knowing me, i’m sure it will stay roughly the same. people often ask me: “what do you like to invest in?” usually, that’s a hard question to answer, given my range of interests. and yet, i find myself thinking about it over and over again as the year ends, perhaps because i may finally have an answer.

here’s how i’d describe myself as an investor: “i’m a stage agnostic investor. for the right person (usually a former colleague), i’ll make a seed investment. for a later stage deal, i’ll get involved in a growth investment, especially if i can help the company or team scale faster. and, of course, my natural preference is to play around the edges of series A, because this is where i like to apply leverage, lead the round, and help the founders cross the first big divide.”

i’ll briefly explain this, as i think it will better help entrepreneurs understand what i’m looking for.

in series a, i like to lead. by nature, i want to find investments and founders where i can effectively lead a deal, participate on the board in some way, and really put my muscle into recruiting, technology development, and other key considerations. this means that you’ve already been working on something for a while, perhaps taken seed funding to begin with, and now are looking for a real investment partner. i’m lucky to be at kp, with a wealth of resources the firm as to offer, as well. basically, i want to find situations where my presence and kp’s presence could lead to outsized success and possible breakthroughs.

there are exceptions, always, right? at the seed stage, i will definitely consider outstanding individuals, especially those i have worked with and/or managed or recruited in the past. this is what i did with apcera, led by a brilliant technologist who i am privileged to support in this small and special way. i’m always happy to meet folks just starting out, especially if there’s a connection between us, but generally, i’m more likely to intro you to seed investors i respect that may fit. of course, i’m an email away, and if you’re building something great, chances are i’ll find you, too :)

 

this is who i am. it’s pretty simple. looking back a year ago, when i wrote a letter to my future self, i think largely i’ve kept true to that ethos. i hope so. and, from an investment point of view, whether it was gumroad or more recently, clearstory data, (and one coming soon, stay tuned), i find myself leaning in most at the series a investment level, and generally the question is simple — does it make sense for me to join this board, and would the founder benefit from it? in the rare cases where the answer is yes on both sides, i lean in, bring out the pen, and partner up to go to war. that’s the only way i know.

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