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Deals I Regret Losing or Turning Down

January 28, 2014 - Author: admin

Even us VCs make mistakes sometimes.  In fact, we make them all the time.  There are companies I wish I would have invested in but didn’t.  And sometimes, the entrepreneurs didn’t want our money.  (yes, that happens).  There have been plenty of times when I’ve begged the entrepreneur to take our money, and sometimes they still go with another VC.  We have our share of rejection too, believe it or not.

This video highlights some of the deals I regret losing or turning down.

 

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Pivoting for Success

January 15, 2014 - Author: admin

 

 

A full house at the UW Foster School Panel on Adapting for Growth

A full house at the UW Foster School Panel on Adapting for Growth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just before the holidays began, I was fortunate to host a panel at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business on pivoting a company.  The discussion was about facing hard changes when the plans you had for your start-up aren’t working out as well as you’d hoped.  Every start-up I know has faced this issue.  Google pivoted many times.  So did Microsoft and Apple.  Every successful company has pivoted and if they’re smart, they continue to change as the market demands. It’s the only way to stay alive.  Learning the art of change and pivoting is critical to any company’s success.

The University of Washington was kind enough to record the session, so I wanted to share it here.  My other panelists are:

  • Chet Kapoor, CEO of Apigee
  • Joe Ruck, CEO of BoardVantage
  • Christopher Cabrera, Founder and CEO of Xactly
  • Professor Charles Hill of the Foster School of Business – moderator

If you’re facing a challenging time with your company and want to know how to successfully pivot, have a look.  I hope it’s helpful.  But let me know how you managed to turn things around in your company.  I’d love to hear it.

University of Washington Panel – Adapting for Growth

Prof. Charles Hill moderates the "Adapting for Growth" panel at the University of Foster Business School.

Prof. Charles Hill moderates the “Adapting for Growth” panel at the University of Foster Business School.

 

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Reflections on 2013

January 4, 2014 - Author: admin

I met many entrepreneurs this year, all struggling to do their best.  So, while I thought I might highlight some of the best and worst products I saw this year, I decided that was not helpful to anyone.  And I’m often wrong anyway.  After all, I thought Google was a bad idea when I first met them.  There were already too many search engines on the market and I didn’t think there was room for another.  So much for what I think is best and worst.

Instead, I’ll share some of my favorite experiences of 2013.

David Boies at Aspen Ideas Fest

On the business side of things, I truly enjoyed going to the Aspen Ideas Fest this summer.  The conference gathers some of the greatest minds in the world into one place and it is always such a thought-provoking and inspiring experience.  This year, things were especially exciting as the event came on the heels of the DOMA and Prop 8 rulings by the Supreme Court.  We were fortunate to hear from the four Justices that formed the majority opinion for both decisions as well as David Boies, the lawyer who argued the Prop 8 case. I’ve never heard a lawyer speak in such a way that would practically move me to tears, but Mr. Boies passion for the rights of those he represented was as inspiring a speech as I’ve ever heard.  You can reach my blog post about it here for further details.

For Bay Partners, it was a banner year.  Eloqua, one of our portfolio companies, went public in August of 2012 and then was purchased by Oracle in January of 2013, setting the year off right for our firm.  After all the years in the VC business, I finally broke into the Forbes Midas list for Bay’s successes in 2012.  It was quite an honor.  Let’s hope I can make it again before the next 100 years is up.

I also had a great time at the White Bull conference in Barcelona.  The conference gathers some of the best entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers in Europe.  This year, it inspired my video blog series on the most common questions I get from entrepreneurs.

From a personal standpoint, I had many highlights this year, starting with running the Boston Marathon.  While it was a tragic event, in the end, people came together to support each other and I was proud to be part of the race and personally witness what it means to be Boston Strong.

UW Foster School Commencement Address 2013

UW Foster School Commencement Address 2013

I was also honored to give the commencement speech for this year’s Foster School of Business undergraduate class at the University of Washington.  I’m amazed at the entrepreneurship and innovation that is taking place even with undergraduate students today.  It was a real treat to meet so many of the graduating class and be inspired by their actions.

The University of Washington’s Foster School of Business also asked me to serve as the Fritzky Chair this year.  Being the Fritzky Chair is a great honor and allows me to share my experiences with both the graduate and undergraduate students at the school.  But as it turns out, I’m learning a lot from the very smart and savvy students there who are all doing amazing things, including starting and running their own businesses while going to school and bringing ground-breaking ideas to local Seattle companies like Amazon and Boeing.  My work there continues into 2014, and I’m looking forward to spending more time with the students in Seattle this year.

Harvesting the grapes in Italy.

Harvesting the grapes in Italy.

And we end with Italy.  My family has a vineyard there and we hosted a Vendemmia party this year to harvest the grapes.  I’m looking forward to some great wine in the future from all our harvest and crushing efforts.

However, next year, I’m taking on a “bucket list” challenge with my best friend.  We have signed up to

drive the famous Mille Miglia race in Italy this coming May. We have not yet been given final permission to race, but I hope at the end of 2014, I’ll be writing about driving an antique Fiat through the back roads of Italy as one of the highlights of the year.

I wish you all a happy new year full of exciting adventures and some dreams-come-true in 2014.  Thank you for your support and engagement in 2013.  I’ve enjoyed hearing from you all.

Mille Miglia car

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