Why @UpfrontVC invested in Disruptive Rental Car Startup @Skurt

Both Sides of the Table

Rental cars. I have never met a person who loved their rental car company or the experience of turning up at an airport, waiting in line, paying a huge fee and then dealing with returns, airport shuttle buses and so forth not to mention half-washed and smelly cars. I think the closest parallel I have is the feeling I had for taxi cabs (inconvenient, smelly, expensive) before Uber. The rental car companies have a million scams to get more money out of you – mostly notably the gasoline scam.

Why We Invested in @FerrisApp – A New Kind of Video Sharing App

Both Sides of the Table

Imagine if your friends could all contribute the Burning Man 2015 album and create a group story. Mark Suster (@msuster) April 23, 2015. We recently released the video sharing app Ferris and announced that Upfront Ventures led the funding in the company in our seed round of $2 million and I personally joined the board. We hit the top spot recommended on Apple’s iOS App Store on the day of the launch, which is a testament to the team and all of their hard work.


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How to Know if You Have ADD and What to Do About It

Both Sides of the Table

Let me start the post with three statements. I have attention deficit disorder, it is a real condition , I have been diagnosed including having radioactive isotopes through my brain to map my development and yet I’m a leader, I have accomplished much, I did well in school and went on to earn a master’s degree and I can actually concentrate when I want to. I wasn’t even aware that I had ADD until I was 40 (I’m now 47) and knowing it has changed my life for the positive.

What To Do When Your Competitor Gets Funded?

Both Sides of the Table

This morning Clutter.io announced they raised $9 million from Sequoia , arguably the best venture capital firm that exists. Congratulations. Sincerely. Conventional wisdom says I shouldn’t tell you this because I invested in their main competitor, MakeSpace. I know my MakeSpace friends will forgive me because I just don’t believe the conventional wisdom is right. And it’s part of what can go wrong in startup land.

Why I F **g Hate Unicorns and the Culture They Breed

Both Sides of the Table

Something is rotten in tech startup land. Don’t call me a hater for saying so. It’s not that I’m anti innovation or a disbeliever in disruption or calling it a full-scale bubble or saying every darling startup is going to fail. None of those. Still. Somebody posted too many party fliers. The uninvited crowds have all turned up.

Some Thoughts on Twitter as a Micro-Blogging Tool

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Mark Suster (@msuster) May 29, 2015. Mark Suster (@msuster) May 29, 2015. Mark Suster (@msuster) May 29, 2015. Mark Suster (@msuster) May 29, 2015. Mark Suster (@msuster) May 29, 2015. Mark Suster (@msuster) May 29, 2015. Mark Suster (@msuster) May 29, 2015. Mark Suster (@msuster) May 29, 2015. Mark Suster (@msuster) May 29, 2015. Mark Suster (@msuster) May 29, 2015. Mark Suster (@msuster) May 29, 2015.

What I’ve Learned About Venture Funding

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VC funding. Our perspectives on the topic wax and wane with market cycles. We love capital efficiency until we love land grabs until we abhor over funding until we get huge payouts and ring the bell for more funding until we attract every non-VC on the planet to invest in startups until it crashes and we start the cycle all over again none the wiser. Amnesia sets in and we get back on the merry-go-round. I saw this great image on Twitter courtesy of Simon Wardley , CC3.0 by SA. blog here ).

Here Are the Details About Upfront Ventures’ Newest EIR – @Chamillionaire

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Five-and-a-half years ago I first met Chamillionaire at a tech conference in LA. I saw him on stage at the event talking about how he used social media to engage audiences. This was 2009 and his understanding of audience engagement was far beyond anything I was hearing from most people at that time. I reached out after the event to learn more. We started hanging out a bit and discussing technology and entrepreneurship.


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Failure. It smells. People are afraid of it. It’s like cancer. When you have it you find you who your true friends are because they’re the ones who double down on helping, on being available, on listening, on understanding. Most people run from failure or disease because they’re hard to handle. Hard to know how to deal with.

When Should You Allow Exclusivity in Deals?

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PR Malloy (@diddly_do_indy) June 13, 2015. I’ve heard many investors and some executives repeat the mantra, “Never offer exclusive deals,” and since this blanket statement is generally bad advice I thought I’d offer the less conventional but I believe more practical version of why exclusive deals can actually be a huge bonus for a startup and why I actively encourage them.

Founders from MIT With a Plan to Change How We Grow and Eat Food

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In our industry we always talk about funding big ideas or funding things with more meaning. It’s something Yves Sisteron & I have been talking about for years at Upfront Ventures. Today we’re proud to talk more about Grove Labs – we really hope you’ll quickly check out this innovative product and we think many of you will be as impressed with Grove as we have been.

What to Make of Amazon’s Work Practices?

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There is much discussion about this weekend’s article in the NY Times regarding Amazon’s work practices. People seem polarized between, “that’s what it takes to succeed” to “I can’t believe what a heartless, intolerant and misogynistic company culture they’ve built.” ” I’ve heard the gamut from reading opinions online and even hearing the debate in circles of my close friends and family.


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__. faux·men·tum. fōˈmen(t)əm,fəˈmen(t)əm/. when a technology startup, its investors or the market believe in robust growth rates writ large. “the ecommerce company gained fauxmentum by raising artificially high amounts of venture capital and spent lavishly on customer acquisition despite long payback periods and questionable LTV” __. We live in heady times.

Why Lawsuits Are On the Rise at Startups and What To Do About It

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Because even in 2015 I still see people riffing on ideas and working on business plans, product flows or coding on projects without first forming a company, signing contracts that assign intellectual property to that company and trusting that “friends” would never sue you. *. Lawsuits. I’m so tired of the nature of the legal system in the United States where bullying, intimidation and mobster-like shake-downs are becoming prevalent.

What is The Best Way to Explain Your Startup?

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Here’s a short video we did of our 2015 Upfront Summit : We also shot this one last year to highlight some of our portfolio companies. 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. And TV / Film / Video Games / Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality and frankly the Internet will all merge.

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

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Tuvia Elbaum (@Tuviae) July 14, 2015. Mark Suster (@msuster) July 14, 2015. I noticed this post today from Ezra Galston titled “ Dear Brad, Fred & Mark: How The Hell Do You Do It?

Does a VCs Culture Really Matter? The Upfront Story

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I’m often asked about the differences between being at a VC and being an entrepreneur and whether I prefer one or the other. The biggest difference I cite is that Venture Capital often feels like an “individual sport” while startups are a “team sport.”

Here is Why Non-Obvious Startup Ideas Can Yield the Largest Results

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Amazon. It is a household name. It has become so synonymous with Internet companies that the French have invented a disdainful term including Amazon: “les GAFA,” which they refer to as Google-Apple-Facebook-Amazon to talk about American dominance of the Internet.

Some Perspective on Twitter vs. Meerkat

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Mark Suster (@msuster) March 14, 2015. Hunter Walk (@hunterwalk) March 14, 2015. Josh Elman (@joshelman) March 14, 2015. Josh Elman (@joshelman) March 14, 2015. Many people know this but in case you aren’t one of them: The smartest move in 2015 is to find the right opportunity to ask the user for their mobile phone number. love Twitter. I’m loving Meerkat so far.

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Do Less. More.

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We are experiencing a frenetic time. I rarely talk to any startup entrepreneur or VC who doesn’t feel it and somehow long for simpler times despite the benefits we all enjoy from increased enthusiasm for our sector. For entrepreneurs there’s too much money sloshing around.

What I’ve Learned from Fred Wilson

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At Upfront we have huge conviction around topics that aren’t exactly 2015 sexy and I think that will set us up nicely for 2018-2020 if we’ve played our cards right. Last week Fred Wilson and I sat down in Santa Monica for an hour+ discussion with the video cameras rolling. One of the questions we discussed is, “How much capital should a startup raise?” ” Fred & I are both in agreement that there is a tension between capital constraints and creativity.

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

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You thought media twitter was bad… You thought tech twitter was bad… — Hunter Walk (@hunterwalk) August 24, 2015. If markets come back quickly then you’ll see a return to normal 2015 funding timeframes (which I can tell you are much quicker than in times past). 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.

One Simple Paragraph Every Entrepreneur Should Add to Their Convertible Notes

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I’m so tired of seeing young entrepreneurs get screwed by their angel investors on convertible notes and I know I can’t convince you not to do it so I’d like to offer one simple bit of advice to help you avoid getting screwed (at least on one part of your note).

How Great, Operationally-Focused CFO’s Can Transform Your Business

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What I love about my job is getting to see teams of super-early-stage companies develop ideas that while raw have potential to make an impact on the market. I love the enthusiasm, the boundless energy and the sense of possibility that comes from having an idea that hasn’t yet been beat up in the marketplace of competing ideas, customer contracts, VC skepticism, jaded journalists or fickle consumers who are on the The New, New Thing.

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How Many Angels is the Right Amount for a Startup to Have?

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If you follow the Twittersphere you may have noticed several people weighing in on this recent piece by Mike Isaac of the NY Times, asking “ How Many Angels is Too Many? ” I found myself nodding through all of it with quotes like, “Seed investing is the status symbol of Silicon Valley,” said Sam Altman. I myself coined the term ENIFA (everyone now is a f **g angel) in 2011 but it didn’t stick as well as the term Unicorn did. Ah, well.

How Do You Know if You Have the Right CEO to Run Your Business Until the End?

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Many people don’t know that I actually became Chairman of my first company and relinquishing the CEO role before the company was sold. It’s a topic I’m well versed in personally and I understand the difficult emotional decision of whether to hand the reigns to someone else of the baby you’ve struggled so hard to launch into the world. Will they treat it with the same seriousness that you did through your years of blood, sweat and tears?

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What is it Like to Negotiate a VC Round?

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Over the years I’ve written extensively about the downsides of convertible notes for startups such as here , here and here. The truth is that I’ve been warning about convertible notes since 2010 it was first declared that “convertible notes have won.” ” Today I want to talk about how a VC thinks about equity pricing on your round and particularly if you’re coming off of a convertible note.

My Number One Advice for Startups or VCs: Conviction > Consensus

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Scott Belsky (@scottbelsky) April 29, 2015. I went as far as to call it the best Tweet of 2015 so far because it encapsulated my advice so succinctly. I saw this Tweet recently by Scott Belsky, co-founder and CEO of Behance. conviction > consensus. It spoke to me because it so resonates with my nearly daily advice to entrepreneurs and VCs alike. He took two words where I take 1,000! I am often asked how we make decisions on investments at Upfront Ventures.

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Fighting Back Against Mobile Phones in the Bedroom

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Technology. It has been a hobby of mine since 1981 when I fell in love with programming, applications and online games. My brain is wired for logic and for problem solving and computers have always helped me fill this compulsion. And since I was 13 years old I have been accustomed to the debate about the limitations of technology or rather the downsides of being overly obsessed with gadgets, devices, software or applications.

The Most Important Advice I Could Give You About Unicorns

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*. Unicorns. The most overused word in the technology industry today. And they aren’t even f **g real. That is how absurd thing have gotten. No, I take that back. THIS is how absurd things have gotten: “I have to raise at a billion-dollar valuation” “Why? You don’t have the revenue or profit to support that valuation.” ” “But if I don’t I won’t be able to recruit the best people in the market.

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Why I Look for High Conviction, not Consensus, in Venture Capital Decisions

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One of the least understood parts of the venture capital industry and venture capital firms is how investment decisions actually get made. The truth is that each firm is different and there isn’t one standard but over the years I’ve talked with enough of my peers to get sense of how many firms work.

What Should You Make of the Web Summit Controversy? A View Behind the Scenes

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Like many of you I read the Is Web Summit a Scam article making the rounds this week. I have attended Web Summits three times – it is not a scam. Let me get that out of the way. It’s a big conference and all big conferences charge money, make money and serve a diverse set of needs. I even wrote about my experiences attending Web Summit , something I rarely ever write about.

Startup Investment Trends in 2015

Tomasz Tunguz

In the last six months, VCs have invested more than $57B according to Mattermark data , which puts 2015 on pace to exceed 2000 as the year the most venture capital will be deployed, ever. Which sectors are benefitting from all these venture dollars? The chart above contrasts the top 12 sectors receiving venture funding in the US, and plots the relative share of dollars invested by month.

Bill DeBlasio's Uber targeting is in danger of making NYC a tech joke

This is going to be BIG.

Mayor Bill DeBlasio is on the verge of making NYC one of the most unfriendly cities in the world for technology companies to operate. It first started with Airbnb, which got caught in a crackdown aimed at people who turn "affordable" residential housing into full time hotel space. Don't concern yourself with the fact that Airbnb is simply an outgrowth of the lack of affordable housing--where no one would ever bother renting out their place if they didn't have to struggle to afford to live here.

How to Build Online Relationships into Meaningful Networks

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Marshall Kirkpatrick (@marshallk) January 24, 2015. It’s an online relationship and I actually believe that as of 2015 I’ve met more of my close connections in the past 5-7 years online before offline. years before… — Shafqat Islam (@shafqatislam) January 24, 2015. David J Senior (@djsenior13) January 24, 2015.

Understanding Your True Character as an Entrepreneur

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Why do we do all that we do? Is it for the money? The recognition? Is work a part of life and life a part of work? Is it just the next rung in the ladder after we finish college and join the next grouping of people we’re tied to for a brief period in time? These aren’t generally the thoughts of 20-year-olds. That is the age where you do more than think. “Of course I work!” ” They aren’t often the thoughts of 30-year-olds.

How the Seed-Stage VC Trend Began, The Downsides of Unicorns & Much More

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*. If you are a 20-something tech entrepreneur you could be forgiven for thinking that seed-stage investors, Angellist Syndicates and widely available angel money always existed. It is, of course, a very recent phenomenon. Let me take you back just 10 years ago to 2005 in Silicon Valley where I returned after 11 years of living in Europe. I was out to raise my first seed money in my second startup of $500,000. I began asking around who the likely investors were for such a market.