To be clear: I publish this list every year not to #HumbleBrag or show off. In fact, I am kinda-sorta embarrassed that this list exposes many important works that I had not yet read. Don’t judge me.
Also, other than the “Top Ten” these are not necessarily recommendations, just a chronological log (though most were recommended to me somehow and I recommend most of them in turn, form your own opinion).
Given lockdowns, no travel etc. I read more than usual this year, yet this list would have been even longer had I not followed a curious rabbit down its hole and pursued some new and exciting projects that I never dreamed I might undertake. Also note a heavy emphasis this year on a) fiction, and b) books about writing. …
Jumpspeed Ventures is an early-stage (pre-seed/seed) VC fund that invests exclusively in tech startups originating from the dynamic and resurgent Jerusalem, Israel startup ecosystem. This is a brief memo to our entrepreneurial community, to (hopefully) transparently and clearly state that we are “Open for Business” and what that means.
Under the cloud of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic many startup founders are confused by VCs claiming to be “open for business” while at the same time VC funding has been plummeting:
“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers” — Harry S. Truman
Your brain is your largest muscle (at least for most people). You need to work it out regularly. Most of the people I admire most, in both business and life in general, are voracious readers, and I try to emulate them. Most of the books I read are recommended by people I follow (tweets, interviews, podcasts etc.) so I’m paying it forward with my 2019 list.
My Top Ten
1. Thinking, Fast and Slow / Daniel Kahneman
You’ve heard of this book. …
I think some venture investors might overstep our bounds when discussing our personal involvement with our firms’ portfolio companies. If so I’m occasionally guilty as well, but I do at least try very hard to be vigilant about avoiding the trap.
I’m specifically referring to venture investors using phrases like “we did a deal with [large company XYZ]” or “when we built [product ABC],” where “we” refers to the investor’s portfolio company. Or — and this grates on my ears like fingernails on a chalkboard — “she’s one of my entrepreneurs,” or “one of my founders did [X].”
Many well-known VCs who I otherwise admire and respect, regularly use this lingo, which I find marginally problematic and personally try to avoid. …
Many founders — particularly first-time founders — struggle with the mental chaos of startup leadership. Sometimes it seems like your brain is being pulled in different directions. And that’s exactly the way it should be, at least in the Jungle stage.
One of Jumpspeed’s LPs held a day-long roundtable discussion with his portfolio companies last week and I was privileged to take part. Over the course of the day a number of the founders vented about the daily stress and difficulties they experience in trying to navigate tough decisions based on imperfect or unknown information. …
“Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”
- How most people quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance
Earlier this week, Andreessen Horowitz announced that it had broken one of its long-standing rules for the first time, promoting a staffer, Connie Chan, to General Partner, thereby “violating” the firm’s stated policy to not promote from within, and to only name someone who had previously led a startup company to the position of GP.
Of course, this “violation” was a positive one, greatly celebrated industry-wide, in part because we desperately need more female GPs in the industry (women often make better investors than men BTW — link link etc.). Industry-leading a16z has made an important statement not only by breaking its own rule, but by naming a woman to the position in doing…
A few weeks ago a gentleman from a prestigious UK university met with me and others in our community to gather information and input on his university’s proposed new entrepreneurship program, given our experience with similar programs in our local ecosystem. He told us that the university would likely house the program in its business school with a goal to “inspire and encourage university students to come up with startup ideas and become entrepreneurs.” I decided to make a point.
“it shouldn’t be in the business school,” I said.
“Oh, OK — so you think the program should be in the engineering school, to encourage the engineering students to start startups?” …
Whichever side of the venture capital table you are on — founder, or investor — I believe that one of the most elusive, yet most important (if not the most important) traits you must attain, is Wisdom.
Both founders and investors have to make countless decisions based on imperfect information, looking at incomplete puzzles and trying to figure out the few puzzles that have the potential to become completed versus the vast majority that are dead ends and never will. This judgement muscle is fueled by wisdom.
Wisdom is one of the hardest things for a human to develop. In fact, in the Bible, after Solomon has finally built G-d’s temple, G-d appears to Solomon and as gratitude, awards him that magical “one wish:’ “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon considers all of the things that are hardest to attain, for which he could really benefit from this once-in-a-lifetime Divine gratuity, and responds: “Give me wisdom” (2 Chronicles 1:7–10). Solomon asked for what he determined to be, arguably, the hardest thing for man to get on his own. …
Bilal Zuberi writes in his thoughtful post on “Learning as a VC”:
I am quite surprised why I still feel so many VCs still keep ‘faking’ it. Maybe its because VCs unfortunately get put on high pedestals of startup scholarship very quickly, regardless of their backgrounds. And then they feel they have to keep up the appearances instead of exposing a more vulnerable/imperfect side.
Maybe. But I think the ultimate cause is a deeper and more chronic problem: the lack of accountability in VC. This lack of accountability pervades VC and we witness it in different manifestations:
Every startup founder has heard the famous mantras: Make Something People Want. A successful startup must achieve Product/Market Fit. These concepts sound so plainly logical and simple. Founders are generally not stupid people; who in their right mind would make something people didn’t want? Creating a product that doesn’t fit a market is obviously futile. Yet most startups fail, and according to our friends at CB Insights, most startups fail because they don’t achieve Product/Market Fit.
So why is Product/Market Fit so elusive?
I recently heard a great quote by famous VC Andy Rachleff that I think answers this question in one simple sentence. …