Archive

The UberEATS Test Arrives In San Francisco

We will talk about this topic among others at The On Demand Conference in NYC on September 15, Register Here. Uber has been testing its food delivery service, UberEATS, in a few markets. Now, they’re gearing up to launch it in San Francisco, the current home of all […]

Moving Stress And Mobile App Medicine

After a little over 5 years living in the same little apartment, we finally moved. If you’ve been following on Twitter, I’m sure you’ve seen — it’s a painful process and when you have a lovely spouse (who is also a packrat) and a toddler in the mix, […]

Quick Takeaways From NYT Story On Amazon Culture

On the morning of August 15, The New York Times published a long, investigative report on the culture at Amazon, one of the country’s (and world’s) largest technology companies. It’s late into Sunday morning the following day, and I’ve just finished the article. It took me so long […]

Wrapping Up Another Summer Of StrictlyVC Posts

Well, I wrapped up another summer tour with StrictlyVC, and it was a blast. To quickly recap, there are range of Q&As over the three week, capped off by three columns on my experiences administering and raising small funds. For interested in venture in China, make sure to […]

When Someone Asks Me About Series A, Now I’ll Just Share This Post

With the explosion of seed investors and seed financings, it’s been fascinating to see the psychology form around “Getting To The Series A.” It’s as if it is a huge marker everyone wants to achieve, and it makes sense. Yet, I’ve found I keep having the same conversation […]

Put Your Head Down For Five Years, And Then Look Up

Back on August 15, 2011, I emailed my friend Joel with an idea, part out of excitement, part out of frustration. I think about it every August. Last year, I wrote about it here. For me, mid-August is like the beginning of the year, because I can point […]

The On-Demand Conference Expands To New York City

Friends in and around New York City — please mark your calendars for September 15 in downtown in NYC: The On-Demand Conference hits the Big Apple: www.ondemandconference.co. My co-conspirators in this effort — Pascal from Checkr and the entire crew from Tradecraft (including Misha) — digested feedback from Version […]

The Ingredients For Greatness, By Jerome Bettis

I’m a sucker for speeches. I like to hear people in their own words. Some of the best are Hall of Fame induction speeches. For instance, I remember Michael Jordan’s speech in Springfield, MA (he still had a huge, competitive chip on his shoulder). And, this year for […]

The “Bang Bang” Round, Inspired By Louis C.K.

scary increase in # of very early cos fundraising $1m-$3m seed & $6m-$8m A rounds simultaneously. A VCs taking seed risk w/ A $ & A+ prices — Satya Patel (@satyap) July 31, 2015 With just under three years of seed-stage investing experience under my belt, I’ve stumbled […]

What’s In A Name? On The Cap Table, It’s Everything Or Nothing

Being very close to the formation stage of startups and their financings, one trend I’ve noticed is, increasingly, founders have a rough idea in mind of the mix of “branded” vs “non-branded” money they want on their cap table. For instance, a pair of founders who receive high […]

Netflix Maternity Leave And The Freedom To Choose

Yesterday, Netflix announced an extremely generous policy for employees who wish to take maternity or paternity leave. This is the kind of news that makes national headlines. It is something most people (eventually) deal with, and most people implicitly know first-hand and/or understand that our current system places […]

Back Into The Podcasting Groove

If you’ve read this blog for a few years now, you know I love podcasts and radio. That passion drove me to work at Swell, a product that I used a ton. It was jarring to see it go. After that product died, my podcast consumption went down, […]

Live Event: “So, You Want To Raise Your Series A?”

Thinking of running a two-day open office hours in SF called “So, you want to raise an A?” to dismantle & rebuild expectations. — Semil (@semil) June 24, 2015 This summer, like the ones before it, I try to work with early-stage teams who are gearing up for […]

Reddit, Gawker, and Editorial Power

I don’t read sites like Gawker and Reddit. Occasionally, I’ll end up there because they’re both good at being a destination site from social media and they’re very clever with titles and media. As far as I know, Gawker is editorially-controlled whereas Reddit is (obviously) a moderated platform […]

Being Creative When The Series A Doesn’t Arrive

Last weekend, I wrote a post about the journey of getting to Series A, and I was surprised by how widely it was shared. It’s a testament to how hard Series A rounds are relative to the number of seeded companies out there. But, many also perceive the […]

We Are In An Access Market

A new program just launched on AngelList to invest in YC companies”– though please note, this is not a formal partnership. YC Alumni who have chosen great deals in the past in their individual investments, and now they can leverage AngelList’s platform to pool outside money together, package […]

Aftershocks From The On-Demand Fault Lines

I wanted to write a brief post on changes founders and current investors can expect in the on-demand sector. I realize that a well-known startup which raised venture capital from prominent firms has shut down. I do not know much about that particular company, and I have never […]

The Big Chill In Seed

This weekend, I wanted to write a few posts about the state of early-stage markets. Last night, I wrote a longer post about the different world seed founders should expect as they try to raise their coveted Series A rounds. I was surprised at the way it flew […]

The “Gig Economy” Debate Goes Mainstream

I have been waiting for the “independent contractor vs full employee” debate to go mainstream. It’s the 1099ers vs the W-2’s. It’s happening, right now. This past week, I was invited to be on NPR for a great discussion hosted by KCRW for “To The Point,” which included […]

Guest Curating StrictlyVC This Summer

It’s that time of year again…. For a few weeks, I’ll be guest writing and quarterbacking the content section of StrictlyVC. Last summer, we had a number of great guests, VCs, founders, and even LPs in the Q&A. This summer will be no different. Starting in a few […]

“So, You Want To Raise Your Series A?”

As a very early and active pre-seed, angel, seed, or whatever-you-want-to-call-it investor, I view my main job is to select companies and founding teams that will eventually go on to raise a proper and priced Series A round from a credible firm, with a partner from that firm […]

Mark Your Calendar: The 2nd Post-Seed Conference (Dec 1 in SF)

In December 2014, a small group of us at Ven51, Bullpen, and Vator organized the inaugural “Post-Seed Conference,” with keynote fireside chats with the likes of Keith Rabois, Chris Dixon, Peter Thiel, and Naval Ravikant. (Click here to see all the videos and wrap-ups.) The day was filled […]

Slack’s Rise Challenges Today’s Conventional Startup Wisdom

Outliers are valuable because they offer us 20/20 hindsight to reevaluate and challenge the assumptions we may have originally held to be true. Lyrically, it’s been a linguistic technique I’ve used in writing this one post about Snapchat and then another one about the Whatsapp acquisition — both […]

The Layers Of Independence

Independence Day is supposed to be about reflecting on and celebrating our collective independence, especially relative to the rest of the world, as well as the grave sacrifices generations have made to make it so. When taken in this light, it is likely something we all take for […]

Bitcoin 2.0: Bitcoin’s Back, Back Again

Last summer, while continuing to invest in early-stage seed Bitcoin-related companies, I wrote a post titled “The Bitcoin Crunch.” That post tried to encapsulate and summarize what I saw bubbling up when seeded Bitcoin companies tried to go for their next round of funding. Just like the broadly […]

Brief Announcement: No Book On Uber

I have a brief announcement to make. Last year, in the fall of 2014, I became interested in digging more into the factors in the world that helped give rise to a company like Uber. That interest grew to the point where I considered the idea of writing […]

Videos From The On-Demand Conference

It’s been a month since we organized The On-Demand Conference. The folks at TradeCraft were able to capture and upload media from the event, and there’s a great mix of content and knowledge from that day, now accessible to all below. I’ve tried to present the videos in […]

A Response To AVC Re: Kozmo

There are a small handful of blogs/newsletters I read daily. The first one of those when I started on this path was AVC. About a week ago, Fred wrote a reflective post about the on-demand economy of today and all the startups who are riding this wave. You […]

FaceTime Elmo

In the absence of living near family or having “help” with our toddler, we have consciously succumbed to, at times, letting her enjoy an old iPhone here, the iPad there. On the one hand, I wanted her to get comfortable with the OS, and it’s been fun to […]

Beau Biden And Climbing The Right Hill

If you haven’t already, make sure to watch and/or read President Obama’s eulogy for Beau Biden, the son of his Vice President. It’s such a textured speech that reveals so much about Obama’s relationship with the Senior Biden, Biden’s family and son, and what it means to create […]

Who Let The Conch Out?

One of the great stories of our time is the multiple “Arab Springs” that networked-devices and social media enable in big and small forms. One way to think about that shift is: Distributing computing power across citizenries can create a stronger force than concentrated authorities. As centralized authorities […]

Dissecting A Great Post On The Seed Stage

Manu Kumar of K9 Ventures posted an excellent, long but to-the-point, well-written post last night. (I’m only writing this b/c I had so many reactions that wouldn’t fit in a comments section.) If you are in the micro-VC world as an investor or LP, it’s something that should […]

The Ecosystem’s Body And Mind

For the past few years, everyone has publicly blogged and tweeted about whether or not the Valley is experiencing a “technology bubble.” The prevailing argument in support of there not being a bubble is that many of the big, growing startups of today have real revenues, solid fundamentals. […]

Option B

One of Mike Tyson’s most cited (and insightful) quotes often flies across Twitter: “Everybody has a plan until they’re punched in the face.” Tyson knows a thing or two about rearranging other peoples’ plans or having his own plans dismantled. Plans are what make Type A people stay […]

Basic Oaths For Investors, And For Founders, Too

I’ve been thinking about this tweet from Garry. I like the idea of an oath, at least in theory, because it forces one to stop and think about what they’re entering into and what they’re signing up for. Garry is one of the small handful people I follow very […]

Things You May Not Want To Hear

As I hinted at in my post last night, I kept a notebook section for topics I wanted to write more about. One catchall topic is labeled “Things You May Not Want To Hear.” My hope is that the following is conveyed economically and fairly. Most people won’t […]

Refreshed For The Summer

I haven’t been writing much here, of late. Lately, I’ve been traveling, much more than I prefer to. Some of it was for work, some of it was an annual trip I take with old friends. Most recently, it was a much-needed family trip. As the first days […]

Recap: StrictlyVC’s “Insider Series” (May 13)

Last week, StrictlyVC with it’s chief exec Connie Loizos held it’s second “Insider Series” event on May 13 @ Galvanize in San Francisco. It was packed. Connie’s audience is growing and growing, and it’s been a blast to see people anticipate the events and reconnect with old friends and […]

Video: If Seed Is The New Series A, How Helpful Are Angels?

Back in April, I drove over to Oakland for Bambi Francisco’s Vator Splash to sit down with good friends Renee DiResta and Jonathon Triest about the current state of angel rounds and “pre-seed” funding in and around the Valley today. I knew this would be a fun panel […]

Contest: On-Demand Startups, But For Enterprise/SMB

In conjunction with The On-Demand Conference we are hosting on May 19 in San Francisco (tickets here), we are also pleased to announce a contest associated with the conference. Specifically, we are asking for submissions for “on-demand” startups that meet two clear conditions: (1) the end customer must […]

On-Demand Conference: Line-Up, Agenda, and Few Tickets Remain

About a month ago, we announced The On-Demand Conference (May 19 in San Francisco) in this post (tickets): After a few months of planning, I wanted to write a short update to highlight who will be represented. We aimed to make this conference inclusive as its a very […]

Fight Night In The Age Of Social Media

It is fight night tonight. Back when I was in high school in college, in the days of Tyson and Holyfield, boxing occasionally surfaced as a big deal. Nintendo’s “Mike Tyson’s Punch Out” became an instant classic video game. In those days, the fights were all Pay Per View […]

The Story Behind My Investment In Onfleet

Yes, the company name is Onfleet, not “On fleek,” though they are actually are “On fleek” when it comes to providing platform services and routing infrastructure to the on-demand economy. I could bore you with stats such as powering volume growth at a 30% month by month rate […]

Sports Innovation Conference @ Stanford GSB (2015)

Last week, I was invited to moderate an hourlong conversation at Stanford as part of the business school’s Sports Innovation Conference. You can link through and see all the great panels, speakers, and topics. While I wasn’t able to stay the whole day, what was clear to me […]

StrictlyVC Insider Series (May 13 in SF)

I’m excited for the StrictlyVC events that are rolling out this year. I’m proud to now be a member of StrictlyVC’s Advisory Board, and the next “Insider Series” event is just around the corner on May 13 in San Francisco. There are a few tickets left, so you […]

A New Conference: The On-Demand Economy (May 19 in SF)

A year ago, I wasn’t sure if the “On-Demand Economy” (ODE) was the real thing or just a fad. I’d keep asking myself, “How can this persist?” and plenty of other people would ask me the same thing, given that out of 70 or so investments I’ve made, […]

Existential Risk In The Seed Stage

I just sent this out to Haystack companies which are at the seed stage. I tend to look at things through the lens of existential risk at this stage, which then inform the milestones (not all metrics-based) to reach as a guidepost. I wanted to share it with […]

Talking VC With Kate Kendall And CloudPeeps At Women 2.0

Hearing the wonderful @KateKendall talk @women2 with some @cloudpeeps advice from their journey pic.twitter.com/rcMiwaM9s8 — Robyn Exton (@robynexton) April 3, 2015 Last week, Kate Kendall of CloudPeeps invited me to speak with her at Galvanize in SF for a Women 2.0 event. I met Kate about a year […]

That Was Easy: Amazon Dash Button In An On-Demand World

The On-Demand Stack gets even more interesting every week. The latest installment, courtesy of Amazon, involves little WiFi-connected dongles with buttons for Amazon customers to summon — with the ease of a finger push — more of the item which corresponds with each dongle. Running low on toilet […]

Haystack is written by Semil Shah, and is published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. Copyright © 2018 Semil Shah.

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