What Fred Said (March 13-19, 2011)
Here at the Egotist, we love our boy Fred “Freddy Wilz” Wilson. He’s the co-founder of Union Square Ventures and an incredibly prolific blogger. Seemingly, he does not sleep.
Anyway, we know it’s tough to keep up with everything that Fred writes, so each week, we sum up his posts in “What Fred Said.” Think of it as Sparknotes for tech and venture capital with a little bit of flair (Jazz Hands!)
March 13: Ex.fm
Fred loves music. Fred loves streaming music. Because Fred is a super-human multi-tasker, he uploads a cool song, quote or photo to his tumblog every day, and he’s very excited by a new company, ex.fm, that aggregates all the songs you post in one place and plays them in reverse chronological order. Very cool.
I would start using this, but does the world really need to hear that much Destiny’s Child?
March 14: M&A Issues: TimingMarch 15: #startupvisa
Fred tells the story of a portfolio company he invested $3mm in, only to have the company’s founder have to leave the country because his visa ran out. Those jobs didn’t get created; innovation was slowed; bad policy again hurt the economy.
In comes the Startup Visa movement. The movement’s message: if you can get funding, you should get a visa. The comments break out into a 180+ message class warfare debate. Fred shuts down a commenter who attacks his patriotism: “I think the entire premise of your comment is nonsense.” You go, Freddy Wilz!
March 16: AirBnb
When you walk into Union Square’s offices, there’s always a goofy box of Obama O’s. No, this isn’t a post where Fred reveals his political allegiance or marijuana habit; it’s a tale of the startup that got away.
So who was she? Airbnb, a cool company that lets you rent subletted rooms from people at a nightly rate, like craigslist with an easy-to-use infrastructure, beautiful design and pictures. To raise money for funding, Airbnb bought a ton of cheerios and turned them into special-edition Obama O’s at the DNC in 2008 (Cap’n McCain didn’t do so well, although McCain would so resemble Cap’n Crunch if he grew a mustache.) They sold out 500 boxes at $40 a pop.
The nessage: you can always find a way to raise money. And Democrats love goofy cereal boxes.
Fred loved the Airbnb team, but he didn’t go with his gut, and passed. “We made the classic mistake that all investors make. We focused too much on what they were doing at the time and not enough on what they could do, would do, and did do… The cereal box will remain in our conference room as a warning not to make that mistake again.”
March 17: Pair Up
We covered “Pair Up” here, but we’ll say again that this is a cool idea. Pair Up allows idea people to find tech guys, and tech people to find idea people. They meet, have a few drinks, and nine months later, out pops a startup! Maybe OkCupid should look into integrating this, somehow.
March 18: Open and Closed
Fred is open, but not always open. No, he’s not talking about his sexuality, silly. He’s referencing how much he can reveal about his portfolio companies. Basically, he’ll dish about some cool stuff, but there are companies that it’s not appropriate to write about.
Freddy Wilz, you’re such a tease.
Now that the internet bubble has returned, there’s a huge rush on developers in the Silicon Valley and NYC. It’s a great time to be a developer, but a shitty time to need to hire one.
Companies are doing whatever it takes to attract developers: “Free lunches, free yoga, pushing code day one, cool schwag, options, RSUs, pretty much whatever it takes.” Considering the shallowness of the talent pool, Fred thinks this will get worse before it gets better.
Our suggestion: free beer. And Fred Wilson bobblehead dolls. Best. Combo. Ever.