In this week’s episode of Ask A VC, we have Greylock’s newest partner, Simon Rothman, joining us in the studio. You can submit questions for our guests either in the comments or here and we’ll ask them during the show…
Now’s your chance to ask Marketplace Whisperer, Simon Rothman, your questions. He’ll be answering them on TechCrunch’s Ask a VC later this week!
The best early-stage venture capital investments appear obvious in retrospect, however very few of them are actually obvious when you make them. In fact, we reviewed our process at Greylock and discovered that the best investments are non-obvious enough that they result in a mixed vote by our partnership. Such was the case with LinkedIn nine years ago.
The Context of the Investment
In October 2004, when Greylock invested in LinkedIn, it was strange times for the pioneers of what would become social networks.
The signs of Friendster’s decline into irrelevance were already evident. Though it would limp on for a number of years more, Friendster was clearly destined to be a tale like Icarus, not Sir Edmund Hillary. Its investors licked their wounds and those that hadn’t been investors counted themselves lucky, given how white-hot the investment had been. One thing that both groups had in common is that they vowed to learn from history.
MySpace was the new upstart. Founded in August, 2003, MySpace would go on to be the most visited social networking site in the world from 2005 until early 2008. In June 2006, it would pass Google as the most visited website in the United States. But in October, 2004, though growing rapidly, it was still relatively tiny — seeing roughly 5m users per month. Obviously, it too would have an Icarus-like ending, but that’s a different story.
And what of Facebook? Well, it had just been founded in February, 2004 by an unknown kid named Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard. It was called “thefacebook” (onewordalllowercase) and It was a small, closed college network at Harvard, Yale and Stanford with members numbering in the low thousands. In fact, at that time, the next biggest social networking site after MySpace and Friendster was likely Orkut, an internal passion-project launched by Google in January, 2004.
And it was on a Monday in August of that same year that LinkedIn co-founder and CEO, Reid Hoffman, visited Greylock to present to the team. You may think LinkedIn was an obvious investment in 2004. At the time, however, there were legitimate concerns:
Earlier this week, we had a chance to sit in on an event that brought together hundreds of product managers in the technology space under the auspices of building a strong network to share experiences and grow the profession. It was organized by Google Ventures‘ Ken Norton and Greylock Partners‘ Josh Elman — two individuals who are well-regarded in the space.
Last week, Greylock Partner, Josh Elman, hosted his second, successful #productmeetup event. Read on for tips on skills that every PM should incorporate to be more effective, video & much more.
In our next Behind the Investment series, we sit down with John Hering, co-founder & CEO of Lookout and Joseph Ansanelli, Greylock Partner.
John & Joseph reflect together on their 4 year partnership & how they met, when Lookout first felt like a real company (Spoiler: aside from today’s news, it was when Joseph’s Mom called him) & share lots of perspective and advice to entrepreneurs.
“The amount of time people spend on a traditional computer outside of work is about to drastically decline. I predict that if you can’t do it on mobile, you won’t do it. But this shift to mobile, social and data-aware means there is ample opportunity for the many existing ways of currently doing things to be transformed — and we’re already starting to see that today.”
And that’s the thing. The best founders, they keep sight of what they think the world should be — what they know it can be. And they keep moving.
John Lilly on founders going where no one has gone before…
Josh Elman’s career looks like a veritable collect ‘em all of hot startups: Over the past decade, the Stanford graduate been an early employee at LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Now he’s a venture capitalist, having followed his friend and mentor Reid Hoffman to Greylock Partners. In this week’s installment of Elevator Pitch, we ask Elman about the future of social media.
Want to learn more about what how to pitch one of our newest partners? Read on for a Q&A with Josh Elman on the tech & trends that excites him most.
“There are a couple of observations [the Greylock team has] found when we look at our deals: if everyone hates the deal, it’s probably not a great deal. That tends to be pretty predictive. If everyone loves it: that’s actually not the best result either. The best result actually comes from where there is a strong advocate and a set of domain experts that are pushing for it. The deals that have that dynamic are the investments that actually end up being the best.”
"Sze doesn’t talk publicly often, so this is a rare treat to hear about his career in his own words. It’s a long discussion, but if you’re serious about understanding the the venture capital game in Silicon Valley, this is a must-read."
Semil Shah shares his transcribed interview with our own David Sze on his career (including pre-Greylock), investing & his advice for aspiring operators and aspiring VCs.
"At Greylock, we like to say that the ultimate determinant of fit between an executive and a company should be based heavily on reference checking."
Our Talent Partner, Jeff Markowitz, shares why a thorough reference check can be the difference between a successful hire, a bust or even a missed opportunity — as well as his three essential tips for how to get it right.
Ten years ago, young adults and those in their late teens were among the fastest and earliest adopters of new social networks — Friendster, Myspace, and ultimately Facebook — and many other products that define us today. So we should be looking to today’s generation, who people often refer to as Millennials, to predict how we will all live and connect 10+ years from now.
Josh Elman shared some of his thoughts on how touch-first and privacy-first are shifting consumer technology with TechCrunch.
Do you think “Generation Touch” will have such a strong influence on the technology & products we see in the near future?