Friday, September 02, 2011

Reverse Demo Day (Thursday, September 29)

By now the rituals of Demo Day are familiar. The opportunities are great both for startups to tell their story, and for investors to see a lot of deals in a very short time. So why wouldn't the reverse be true?

Introducing the Valley's first Reverse Demo Day, where the investors sell themselves to entrepreneurs. Inspired by Betaworks' and AOL's New York VC Demo Day, I'm working with Orrick’s TOTAL ACCESS program to hold a Reverse Demo Day.

This event puts angel investors on stage and gives them two minutes to deliver their elevator pitch to entrepreneurs.

For startups, it's the perfect opportunity to get a better sense of some of the names you always see on AngelList. Remember, you can fire employees, but you can't fire your investors.

If you're an angel investor and want to be one of the speaker, please see below for details.

Date: Thursday, September 29, 2011
Time: 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Location: Orrick’s Silicon Valley Office (1100 Marsh Road, Menlo Park, CA)

To apply

Please email Joyce Chuang at with your answers to the following questions:

1. I am an active and accredited investor: Yes or No

2. List at least two angel or venture capital investments you’ve made in the past

3. Where are you located?

4. Do you invest your own money, or a fund’s?

5. Link to your biography, Twitter handle, LinkedIn page, and AngelList profile that we can use if chosen

If you have any questions regarding the event, please feel free to contact Chad Lynch at

UPDATE: The event is free for both investors and entrepreneurs. I'll be posting a link that let's entrepreneurs sign up for the event once it's available.

UPDATE: To register as an entrepreneur, click here.

There are no shortcuts (but there are optimal paths)

We love shortcuts, especially here in America. Why diet when you can cleanse? Why exercise when you've got the Shake Weight?

The truth is there are no shortcuts. My daughter Marissa once tried to use her Magic 8-Ball as a wishing machine. She would say something like, "Will I have a playdate with Anna this weekend?" But she quickly learned that the results didn't always come true.

However, there are optimal paths. Eating a low-carb diet can reduce your hunger and lead to gradual weight loss. A well-designed workout will deliver better results than randomly exercising.

You can't get out of doing the work, but you can figure out the smartest way to work.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Why Politics Isn't Sports

With the presidential election in 2012 just around the corner, the media frenzy will soon be in full swing. If it's anything like 2008, the media will cover the election like a sporting event.

In a lot of ways, this makes sense. Sports may very well be the world's most successful form of entertainment, and the techniques it has pioneered (play-by-play, color commentary, talk radio, highlight films, etc.) are an integral part of how we view the world.

When CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News rolls out a lineup of "experts" and spin doctors to analyze a recently concluded debate, it resembles nothing so much as the in-studio postgame show after a sporting competition. (By the way, in this analogy, which talking head is Charles Barkley? James Carville?)

Yet there is one crucial way in which politics isn't sports. Sports, with a few exceptions, is morally neutral. Each team has fans and haters, but the teams and players aren't actually evil (unless we're talking about scumbags like Bill Romanowski) and who wins and loses ultimately doesn't matter to anyone but the fans.

Like sports journalism, media coverage of politics will often focus on the virtuosity of technique. We admire "consummate politicians" like Bill Clinton for their remarkable abilities on the field. But it's one thing to admire LeBron James for his ability to lead the Miami Heat to victory (or not...zing!). It's another to admire Dick Cheney for his ability to subvert the Constitution.

Unlike in sports, in politics, you can't admire the player if the cause is unjust.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Speed Has a Momentum All Its Own

(one of these people won an Oscar. Guess which one.)

While we all understand the obvious benefits of speed, we often overlook the subtle power of momentum.

Often, doing something fast delivers better results than doing something slowly, simply because we reduce the chances of something going wrong.

Lost was one of the most successful television shows of the past decade. It revived the hour-long drama, and spawned a host of imitators.

Co-creator Damon Lindelof attributes much of that success to speed. The original set of episodes were shot in just 11 weeks. This meant there wasn't enough time for the network to dumb it down.

The same thing can hold true in the startup world, hence the popularity of the hackathon.

Learn to keep up the pace, and you'll be able to get the power of momentum on your side.