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Understanding What’s Going on in #LATech

Both Sides of the Table

Upfront Ventures was created 20 years ago as one of the original VC funds in Los Angeles. Back then only 15% of our dollars were invested locally whereas today 50% of our dollars are invested in LA.

Venture Capital is About Human Capital

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Gregg Johnson, CEO of Invoca For the first 5 years or so after I became a VC I didn’t talk much about what I thought a VC should be excellent at since frankly I wasn’t sure. I was mostly doing my job and trying to figure out how to be better every day.

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Why Acceptance of Failure is Critical to Startup Success

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I talk about failure a lot because I think it can be tremendously instructive and I think that success without failure often masks underlying lessons.

Why Raising Too Much Money Can Harm Your Startup

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Amongst the most often asked questions I get from founders is, “How much money should I raise?”

And Then They Came for Me …

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Yesterday was Halloween in the United States where children dress up and try to scare people as they “trick-or-treat” for candy. Yet the only horror I experienced was watching Peter Thiel stand in front of a national media audience and re-endorse Donald Trump for President.

What to Make of Andreessen Horowitz’s Returns?

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Rolf Winkler wrote a piece in the WSJ about A16Z’s returns in which he says they “lag behind Sequoia, Benchmark and Founders Fund.”

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What Most People Don’t Understand About How Startup Companies are Valued

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There is much discussion online and also in small, private groups, about why the price of technology companies – public and private – are falling.

Mark Cuban on Why You Need to Study Artificial Intelligence or You’ll be a Dinosaur in 3 Years

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Mark Cuban opened the Upfront Summit in an epic interview by Jason Hirschhorn , founder of Media REDEF.

Why I Backed a 24-Year-Old Trying to Assess Human Potential

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Today Upfront Ventures is announcing that we’ve backed Rebecca Kantar ’s startup Imbellus , a company designed to assess human potential and ultimately change the way we teach children. We led a $4 million investment along with Thrive Capital, GLG and Sound Ventures.

How to Stay in Control of Your Meetings

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Meetings. The bane of many of our existence. They suck up time and are often unproductive or don’t yield the results we expect. I want to talk about a specific type of meeting today — a Board Meeting — but this could easily apply more broadly.

The Resetting of the Startup Industry

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Much has changed in the past four months of the technology startup world and how outsiders value the business. Of course it’s too early to predict whether this is a trend or an aberration but the smartest people I know in the industry are predicting the former.

Lead, Follow or Get the F**k Out of the Way

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Lead — It’s hard to be a real leader. Decisions are never black or white, so most people fudge. The straddle middle grounds to keep everybody happy. They make compromises to try and hold together constituencies.

The Corrosive Nature of Over-Introducers

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In modern society we’re all over-worked and over-loaded with information and tasks and to-dos and obligations. Nowhere is this more apparent than working in a startup where you are definitionally under-resourced and trying to make big accomplishments in compressed periods of time.

The Full Dataset on What VCs are Thinking About Funding in 2016

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Every year at Upfront we try to analyze the venture markets. We try to look at the sources of capital, the valuations, exits and trends. We use this try to draw some context that informs our funding decisions. Of course we fund companies in good markets and bad.

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What Jonah @Peretti, CEO of BuzzFeed, Sees in the Future of Digital Media

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BuzzFeed. It conjures up a range of emotions anytime I’ve privately expressed my opinion to thought leaders in our industry that I believe it is one of the most innovative companies in digital media.

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Snapchat 101 for VCs and Old Folks

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As the human ear ages it loses its ability to hear high-pitched sound frequencies (above 15-16 kHz) through a condition known as presbycusis that starts at 18 years old.

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What I’ve Learned About Venture Funding

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VC funding. Our perspectives on the topic wax and wane with market cycles.

A Teachable Moment on Race

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Yesterday was the opening of the African American Museum in Washington DC, dedicated to the role that African Americans have played in building our country and our culture. It was signed into law 13 years ago by then president George W.

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Venture Outlook 2016

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There is a lot of uncertainty about the state of the private, high-growth technology markets and the venture capital markets that underpin them.

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The Surest Sign You’re Winning is When Goliath Takes a Swing at You

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I’ve been involved with several startups where a giant incumbent attacks you and tries to sue you out of existence. When you first receive the threat it feels like the local pizza shop when they first get a call from the local mafia boss and you can feel the shake-down coming.

How Do VCs Choose Their Investors (and should entrepreneurs care?)

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I recently read a blog post by Beezer Clarkson, Managing Director of Sapphire Ventures about why entrepreneurs should care about from whom their VC funds raise their capital. I spent a bunch of time thinking about this position — especially since Beezer is an investor in Upfront Ventures.

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Why Successful People Focus on the Bottom End of the Funnel

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Business leaders have many tasks to accomplish and prioritizing stuff can be hard.

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Half Lives. Social Media. And Snapchat Stories.

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I’ve been online for nearly 30 years (yes, there was CompuServe and Prodigy before the www), blogging for 10 and using social media tools since the earliest days. I love to watch networks evolve, see how crowds gather and communicate and curate and share.

Making Sense of the Stock Market Drops in Relation to Venture Financing

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If you didn’t notice that the stock markets in the US dropped nearly 4% today (after falling last Thursday and Friday) then you were probably completely off-the-grid and on vacation. It was a nerve racking morning. My favorite Tweet of the morning came from Hunter Walk.

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Getting Your Head in the Game for Fund Raising

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When you run a startup you’re always on borrowed time. You have cash in the bank, a monthly burn rate and a “cash out” date that few in the company truly comprehend.

What is The Best Way to Explain Your Startup?

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Anybody who reads the blog regularly will know that I’m long video. I’ve made 5 investments in the sector and I hope to make 5 more. Between the US & Europe alone the video sector is worth around $500 billion.

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What Everyone Should Take Away from Twitter’s 8% Staff Reductions

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Today Twitter announced it had laid off around 336 jobs or 8% of its workforce. Nobody should celebrate, cheer or shout, “it’s about time.”

What Do LPs Think of the Venture Capital Markets for 2016?

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At the Upfront Summit in early February, we had a chance to have many off-the-record conversations with Limited Partners (LPs) who fund Venture Capital (VC) funds about their views of the market.

Why Computer Vision Tracking the Flow of People Will be a Huge Market

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Density laser tracking above a doorway As I’ve written before I believe Computer Vision will become a major factor as a Human-Computer Interface (1) as sensors and cameras help us make sense of our physical world.

Should Startups Care About Profitability?

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There are certain topics that even some of the smartest people I talk with who aren’t startup oriented can’t fully grok. One of them is whether profitability matters.

How the Hell do I Prioritize Work, Blog & Find Balance?

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I noticed this post today from Ezra Galston titled “ Dear Brad, Fred & Mark: How The Hell Do You Do It?

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The Most Misunderstood Facts About Building a Business on YouTube

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Any reader of this blog for a period of time will know that I’ve been long YouTube for years.

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What is the Right Burn Rate for your Startup?

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One of the hardest decisions entrepreneurs make when they start a company and raise outside capital is figuring out what an acceptable “burn rate” is.

Why Most Online Video Companies Will Fail

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I live in LA and fund startups. So you can imagine that I see a lot of video startups. Most will fail. I repeat the same mantra to every one I see. “You can’t build a large online video company. You have to build a large online tech company that distributes video.”

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The Silent Benefits of PR

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I’ve been having this PR discussion with three separate portfolio companies at once so I thought I’d just publish my thoughts more broadly. I have written many times about PR so if you want a deep dive on the “how” of PR you may enjoy reading some of these posts.

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How to Decrease the Odds That Your Startup Fails

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Many startup businesses – tech or otherwise – fail. In our industry we applaud the efforts for entrepreneurs to have tried and we know that today’s failure can bring the experience for tomorrow’s success.

How I Promise You One of the Most Meaningful Days of Your Life

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I know the title “I promise you one of the most meaningful days of your life” sounds grandiose but I mean it and I hope you’ll read through to the end and choose to take one small, totally free action, that will change your life and likely those of others.

The Very First Startup Founder You Need to Invest in is You

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This week I wrote about obsessive and competitive founders and how this forms the basis of what I look for when I invest. I had been thinking a lot about this recently because I’m often asked the question of “what I look for in an entrepreneur when I want to invest?”

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The Coming Shift in Enterprise Software

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Why 2017 Should be a Great Year to Raise Venture Capital

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Recently Upfront Ventures published its outlook for the technology startup world and venture capital overall titled it “ WTF Happened to Winter ?” The conclusion of our report was that winter did come, but it was mild and short.