Hello From Barcelona...and Some Thoughts on the Venture and Seed Landscape
Good morning from Barcelona…
I am here for a couple days before heading into the Pyrenees for a week cycling with friends.
This afternoon, I will be catching up on the startup scene here in Barcelona with my friend John Laramie who we backed way back in 2009 at Adstruc and moved here from the US with his family last year to see how the Spanish live.
The last few days in Manhattan were steamy hot, hectic and fun. New York is really really busy and alive.
Rachel and I went to The Comedy Cellar and while we were grabbing a bite at their upstairs restaurant with friends, Aziz Ansari walked in. Rachel’s second favorite show is Parks and Recreation (after The Office), but we chickened out and did not bug him for a photo.
I had a great strategy meeting with Rishi our Stocktwits CEO Rishi and caught up with Watchbox CEO Justin Reiss who is a founder of Watchbox. I have had Justin on my ‘Panic’ podcast a few times and if you are a watch fan/collector, you will love Watchbox the company.
I spent a lot of time meeting with our NYC founders and emerging managers to try and get a better feel for the seed stage atmosphere. My own eyes and ears continue to give me an uneasy feeling. There continues to be a large disconnect between the reality and expectations all through the venture stack, not just the seed stage.
There are a lot of ‘growth’ layoffs (companies and vc firms) but I still do not grok the size of these large VC ‘helicopter’ firms. The term ‘helicopter’ parents was coined as parents - like helicopters - hovered overhead overseeing every aspect of their child’s life. These large VC growth firms I call helicopter firms that raised big funds created large teams with the large fees from the ridiculously supersized growth funds to ‘oversee’ every aspect of their ‘growth’ companies. Maybe most of this should just fall back on the founding teams that you gave such generous terms?
The easy money, COVID years and long boom created a venture landscape that was sloppy on diligence and flawed in their oversight and support.
Zoom venture investing was a lovely ‘idea’ ( I made many COVID mistakes but never bought into Zoom investing). Speed was a ‘bug’ not a feature’ of easy money and COVID. Even if you moved fast and picked the right founders and sector, that speed extrapolated through the whole ecosystem - hiring, growth hacks, spending, created all sorts of bad habits and false signals that are still wreaking havoc and are creating many unintended circumstances.
BUT…as I always say to the people I share my opinions with on this topic…‘I hope I am wrong’.
Maybe ‘organic growth’ channels show up once again.
Maybe interest rates start drifting down around the world.
Maybe Apple, Google, FaceMeta, and Microsoft decide to not act like monopolistic throttles on growth for startups so network effects can begin anew.
Maybe a leader or two shows up on the political stage that understands technology and growth.
Maybe Ozempic really is a miracle drug.
In the meantime, stay disciplined.
Have a great day.