True story: On what was probably the third date with my now wife, I grabbed a postcard from the fish restaurant we were dining at in Seattle and drew a line using a red pen. On the bottom axis was meant to be time and on the line itself I wrote out a rough sketch of what I wanted my professional career to look like… [yes, I know not exactly screaming “romance”, but then again my first line when I met her was to show her an app on my Windows Mobile — powered Smartphone. This was 2004…. She still married me!]
I digress… Back to that red line. In it I mapped out my professional ambitions and I think it read something like this: Product… International… GM role in early stage company…IPO… VC. And it stopped there… That was somehow already the end goal.
Post business school, a job in venture capital had never been of interest to me — I still wanted to tinker and build. After that I wanted to leverage my multi-stamped passport and see what tech looked like in other parts of the world. Hopefully along the way I would get lucky and I would join a rocketship (as I had in the dot-com days) and go through another IPO. Maybe some of this would happen, probably most of it would not. I am amazingly lucky that it all did!
But the ambition, for whatever reason, even way back then, was to eventually be a VC. And no, it wasn’t (and still isn’t) for the reasons you might think (You see, unfortunately, khaki pants and fleece vests have never been my thing!)
I’ve always joked that VC is the best job in the world for someone with ADD [which I have never had diagnosed formally, but those that know me and love me are probably nodding their head right now]: Look left, it’s AI! Look right, it’s crypto! Look up, it’s neo-banks! Look down…oooh shiny gaming! Jokes aside, this is a job that is underpinned by inquisitiveness and passion for technology with the benefit of a portfolio approach to opportunities and founders you back.
I have never been able to find another job that is so well suited for someone with a deep and natural curiosity for what could be possible. But let’s be honest, it’s a bloody copout… you’re not writing the future, you are simply helping to fund and riding the coattails of those who are. But by God, what a ride it is!
So why do I Venture?
- I Venture because it forces me to learn every day about what could be possible.
- I Venture because it exposes me to some of the brightest minds in the world and if lucky enough I get to keep on learning from them for a long time.
- I Venture because that small idea germinating in a founder’s mind could have massive implications for the world my children will inherit.
- I Venture because sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night still thinking about that entrepreneur’s pitch and it hits me how big it could be.
- I Venture because, honestly, in which other job could you ever be certain that what you have to know a little bit about today will be completely different in 18 months’ time?!
- I Venture because this is a power law industry and you have to swing big. Singles and doubles don’t count.
- I Venture because who else gets to come home to their 3 kids under 10 and describe the “magic” they heard described that day as part of their bedtime story.
- I Venture because my son had to draw a picture of an “invention” for his school when he was 6…and he drew a picture of a phone screen with the KeyMe (my first ever VC investment) logo on it (that picture sits by my desk at the office and on the KeyMe fridge in NY!)
- I Venture because, if done right, it is a macro multiplier: Jobs created, efficiencies gained, economies made better, customers delighted, lives improved.
- I Venture because there is nothing more amazing in the world than to know you will be humbled by the intellect of a 25 year old you are likely to meet that day.
- I Venture because, as a fellow VC said to me a few months ago, “we should be backing shit that matters!”
- I Venture because, even if I had all the money in the world, those white boarding sessions with founders, energy clearly in the air, would still be what I would want to do day in and day out.
- I Venture not because I run excel spreadsheets on what my hypothetical and oh so elusive “carry” could be in 10 years time, but rather, because if I do all the things above with passion, those coattails I’ve ridden will make it all work out.
- I Venture because so many of you give me the time, the insights, the sparks and the “magic”… Thank you!
That red line is still a work in progress… But I am thankful for the path along it.