Archive

Quickly Unpacking Nestle’s Majority Investment In Blue Bottle Coffee

Earlier this week, it was reported that Bay Area coffee roaster and coffee icon Blue Bottle received a massive investment from Nestle Corporation, giving it a majority stake in the company and, by some accounts, valuing it at or even above $700M (reports differ here but let’s assume […]

The Market Ignores Inputs

About a decade ago, when I was finishing grad school and picking up various consulting engagements to keep afloat, I was reminded recently of one of those engagements. In the pursuit of as many leads as I could find, I accepted a statistical modeling assignment that, in retrospect, […]

Seeing Through The Hangover “Fog” From 2014-2015

Earlier this week (on Monday the 11th), I wrote the following note to every CEO/founder I’ve invested in. I didn’t intend to write to write for it public consumption, but a bunch of them said it should be made public. So, I cleaned it up a bit and, […]

Three Founder Traits That Help Score Series As

I’ve written here quite often — perhaps too much — about what early-stage founders need to think about when graduating from seed stage to institutional Series A stage. I won’t go into that here, but another aspect of this journey has been highlighted in my mind that I […]

“Finishing The Work”

These days, it’s easy to start a company — and it’s hard to build one. And, we know 90% of new ventures don’t ultimately work out. We all focus on the growth and momentum, the outliers and the high-fliers, and for good reason — those outcomes end up […]

The Story Behind My Investment In Ironclad

Sometimes, picking a company to invest in is just easy. The hard part is getting in. About two years ago now, I met Jason Boehmig of Ironclad during YC’s Summer 2015 batch (before Demo Day). One of my founders who was in YC singled out Jason as outstanding. […]

The Story Behind My Investment In WorkRamp

About a year ago, a few ex-Box friends mentioned one of their colleagues “Ted” was starting a new company. That was enough for me to swing into action. I googled around and targeted “Ted Blosser,” found we had a few close friends in common, and a few email […]

The Story Behind My Investment In Pillow

As I began to raise my first fund back in early 2013, I reached out to my friend Satya to see if he’d like to make a small LP investment. We met up in The Mission and I walked him through what I was trying, and he said […]

The Story Behind My Investment In SkySafe

Back in Q1 of 2016, when the technology sector went through a sizable (but apparently now forgotten) correction fueled by sharp hits to public tech stocks, I was happily investing into the very early-stage ecosystem, and in particular, deeper technology opportunities. It was at that time when my […]

The “Summer Of Semil” Returns To StrictlyVC

It’s that time of year, when Connie Loizos of StrictlyVC takes off in search of east coast summers and long walks on the beach — leaving StrictlyVC’s readership without its veritable columnist and correspondent for a few weeks. While Connie’s work and voice cannot be substituted for, I […]

The Story Behind My Investment in Protocol Labs

Almost three years ago now (summer of 2014), a friend said I should spend some extra time looking at a new small company that had formed out of Stanford. I remembered seeing the company at Y Combinator’s Demo Day in August 2014. The presentation was memorable for the […]

The Story Behind My Investment In CARMERA

Years ago, when I was working at a startup, I made my first trip down to SXSW. It was a blast. That weekend, I happened to stay in a house along with a bunch of folks from Disqus. I knew Daniel, the founder, a bit from before, as […]

June 6, 2017: AMAx3

On June 6th, I may break an Internet record — or, at least, try to. Next Tuesday, I will participate in three (3) separate, live “AMAs,” also known as “Ask Me Anything.” I have done of few of these already, and as someone who loves good questions and […]

Guest Series On StrictlyVC: Q&A With Limited Partners In VC

** UPDATE ** I’ve added links to each specific interview posted on StrictlyVC with each of the LPs: -Sarah Anderson @ Cintrifuse – click here -Susan Chen @ UTIMCO – click here -Atul Rustgi @ Accolade – click here -Amit Tiwari @ INVESCO – click here -Hunter Somerville […]

The Story Behind My Investment In Remix

A little over two years ago, the founder of Chariot, a company I was involved very early with, told me about another founder in his YC batch that he liked. He wasn’t sure if it was a good business (at the time), but he really vouched for the […]

Recruiting A Board Member

Working with many seed-stage companies, a large component of my decision-making and work revolves around being helpful as the company approaches a “Series A investment.” This term can mean different things to different people, so I’ll simply state how I define it — To me, Series A is […]

Visualizing Haystack

Over here, I’m usually one to write about things, to use words, arguments, structure to share a point of view. Yet, after four years as a small investor (2013-2017), I wanted to examine some data and work with a designer to visualize it. Note, it’s not perfect data, […]

The Story Behind My Investment In Kubos

After investing in Saildrone a year ago, I tweeted something late at night about meeting founders with “oceanic” ambitions. A friend on Twitter (Jonathan Van) from Texas wrote back, emailed me, and said he’d put a bit of money in this company in Texas that had “oceanic” ambitions, […]

The Story Behind My Investment In Citizen

When one of your best friends and seed-stage co-investors texts you about a company “you’ve just got to meet,” that certainly gets my attention. Thanks to that good friend in NYC, I was able to meet Andrew, the CEO of a company called sp0n. Yes, that’s right — […]

Quickly Unpacking Intel’s Acquisition of Mobileye

Another day, another mega-acquisition of a technology company — this time, it was the iconic Silicon Valley company, Intel, which shelled out $15B for Israel’s Mobileye (also a public company) in the high stakes battle to win the war in the shift to autonomous vehicles. In the Valley, […]

The Story Behind My Investment In Cobalt Robotics

Earlier this week, Cobalt Robotics came out of stealth mode. The idea behind Cobalt is to create security robots which patrol places of work, like financial institutions, hospitals, data centers, operational plants, and other secure infrastructure. What is today typically done by a mix of humans (security guards) and […]

In Conversation With Brad Feld (StrictlyVC Insider Series 2017)

Earlier this month, Connie Loizos of StrictlyVC and TechCrunch gave me the opportunity to sit down with Brad Feld from Foundry Group at her latest “Insider Series” event. I love these events because everyone attending is genuinely interested in investing in startups and everyone has a genuine desire […]

Investing Notes From The Upfront Summit (2017)

How many years now — three? I had to check my back catalog, and lo and behold, I just wrapped up my third Upfront Summit. Every year, it’s an absolute blast, and each year becomes more memorable than the last. After two full days on the ground in […]

Unpacking Cisco’s Last-Minute Acquisition Of AppDynamics

It’s like a trick play in sports, like a flea flicker, or fake field goal kick, or a surprise bunt and suicide squeeze — the list goes on and on, but for AppDynamics, the dramatic sports analogies are plentiful. Set to IPO this week and begin trading at […]

Unpacking Atlassian’s Acquisition Of Trello

Wrapping up my first CES/Vegas retreat, I boarded the plane to check Twitter to see — lo and behold — that Trello had been acquired by Atlassian for $425M in a great, quick early-stage venture outcome. There’s quite a bit to unpack here, so I’ll just leave a […]

Looking Ahead To 2017

It’s that time of year, a time to look ahead to the next year and wonder what it may bring. Earlier this week, I reflected on what I’ll remember from 2016. If this past year taught us anything, it’s that crafting precise predictions is a difficult, if not impossible, […]

Trying To Stay Grounded As A Writer And Investor

If you’ve read this blog over the years, you may have noticed a slight shift in topics discussed, mainly from technology products, services, and markets to eventually include my half-baked views on the financing environment for startups. I just scrolled through my archive in reverse-chronological order and noticed […]

Entrepreneurial Resilience And Creative Metamorphosis

Back in early 2015, mobile live-streaming hit the scene, with products Meerkat and Periscope taking different paths — Meerkat hit the market, raised a big seed followed by a Series A led by Greylock, while Periscope was scooped up by Twitter to be integrated into its platform as […]

Transcript: Chamath Palihapitiya @ Post Seed 2016

(Below is the full transcript from my fireside chat with Chamath on Dec 1, 2016 in San Francisco. Below is the full transcript, including audience questions. We covered topics related to the election, how the Bay Area may be treated by a new administration, changes in healthcare, the […]

Myriad Money Motivations

If you still follow me on Twitter (sorry if you still do), you may have noticed that I’ve been working out some thoughts related to the impact of how much money is not only in the Bay Area today, but how much more may come in. Yes, I […]

Quick Notes From Laguna Beach (WSJ Live 2016)

As if working in venture capital wasn’t already a great job, my colleagues from my venture partner role at GGV Capital surprised me with an extra ticket to this week’s WSJ Live event down in Laguna Beach. It was also great to see some of my WSJ reporter-friends […]

Save The Date: The Post Seed Conference, 2017 (Dec 1st in SF)

As you know, each December a small group of investors (which includes me, Bullpen, Vator) produce a conference, “Post Seed.” I’m excited to announce and share that the 2016 version of this conference will take place in San Francisco on December 1st. For more information here: www.postseed.co I […]

Throttling

One of many reason LPs (rightfully) prefer to invest in new firms with “spinouts” (investors who have already been inside a VC firm) is because there is no Khan Academy online course for Fund Management. I am lucky because I have been at least exposed to how a […]

A Local Fragmentation Tax: Labor, Capital, and Attention

As I’ve been musing about on Twitter, oftentimes in the current Bay Area ecosystem, I don’t understand how very early-stage companies recruit teams to join them because there are so many opportunities (which is great) and so much capital in the ecosystem. At the seed-stage, when investing in […]

The Story Behind My Investment In Joymode

On occasion, I have had the good fortune of purely investing in a person, usually someone I know well, usually someone I call a friend. I have happily done this with companies like Trusted and EaseCentral. And, I did the same thing with Joe Fernandez and his new […]

Make Series A’s Great Again

Over the past few weeks, I’ve caught up with and hung out with some of the larger investors on Sand Hill and beyond. At the same time, I am helping lots of seeded companies begin to think about and/or prepare for their Series A. As every seed investor […]

Quick Thoughts On Mixing Up The Demo Day Model

The “seed accelerator” model for early-stage investing can and does work well for those running and participating in an accelerator. Yet, the format can frustrate investors who attend. While they are good social events for investors to show up to, the information-overload and herd behavior can make it […]

The Mood Among GPs and LPs (Fall 2016 Version)

This past week was a busy week for LPs (those who invest in VC funds) and GPs (those who deploy said funds) to meet and mingle in the Bay Area with a few big events going on. I like to write about what I learn from the LP […]

Venturing Along With GGV Capital

As many of you know, I have been a venture partner to GGV Capital. Today, GGV Capital announced me, along with another Venture Partner (Denise Peng, formerly of Qunar) and a new EIR (and and my old friend), Jason Costa. More precisely, I have been a Venture Partner with […]

Reflecting On My Investment In Chariot (Acquired By Ford Motors)

I woke up on Friday ready for a day of back-to-back to meetings. Scanning my email, a few reporters had sent short emails asking about some embargo related to Chariot. I texted Ali, the CEO of Chariot, with a casual “Hey man, what the…?” Then around 10am, my […]

The Story Behind My Investment In Saildrone

Years ago, I used to work in Oakland, commuting downtown daily while living off Dolores Park. That seems like a lifetime ago. Now, entrenched with work and family in the Valley, I rarely get to make it over to the East Bay — I wish that wasn’t the […]

The Story Behind My Investment In Mux

Earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg stood in front of a deceptively simple and elegant slide that laid out the future of what Facebook will focus on. In that slide, we see everything from satellites to artificial intelligence, and beyond. In addition to far-out technologies, we also see a […]

The Story Behind My Investment In Shaper Tools

Earlier this year, a seed investor I co-invest with frequently offered to introduce me to one of his favorite companies. This startup raised a small seed round a year ago, and in that time, they brought in a new CEO, sharpened their focus, and — lucky for me […]

Jerry Colonna Breaks Me Down On The Reboot Podcast

A few summers ago, I was driving from mid-Connecticut to JFK to pick up my brother-in-law. On that long drive down, I stumbled upon a podcast where Jason Calacanis and Jerry Colonna were chatting. I loved the discussion, listed to the entire podcast again, and wrote about it […]

Light Blog Housekeeping

Every summer, I try to revamp or clean-up this blog. For this summer, it was more about clean-up. There are still some loose ends to be polished up, but briefly, here’s what changed: 1/ The “Haystack” Name: For some reason, I named my site “Haywire,” and that name […]

Five Takeaways From Walmart’s Acquisition of Jet.com

Jet.com, once laughed at — or, should I say, often laughed at — will now have the final laugh. Walmart will announce tomorrow that it has acquired Jet.com, which has raised upwards of $565M of venture capital from some of the best funds in the world, for $3.3 […]

Five Quick Takeaways From Salesforce’s $750M Acquisition of Quip

These big deals are cutting into my sleep! Another day, another interesting deal in startup-land. This one wasn’t quite as big as the $35b Uber-Didi deal, but it’s still big. Quip was just acquired by Salesforce, reportedly for $750m. Quip raised two rounds of VC totally $45m (per […]

My Five Quick Takeaways From The Uber-Didi Deal

It is late (for me) on a Sunday night and my Monday is packed, so I’m going to forego some sleep and quickly jot down my thoughts and reactions to the news that Uber is leaving China, taking investment from its Chinese rival, Didi, and taking a 20% […]

Haystack is written by Semil Shah, and is published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. Copyright © 2017 Semil Shah.

“I write this not for the many, but for you; each of us is enough of an audience for the other.”— Epicurus