Garry, Alexis, and the team at Initialized are the real deal.
In a world where most investors' first question is, "Who else is in?", the hardest thing for a raw startup to find is someone with the conviction to write the first check. They've built their whole firm on being willing to bet on companies before other investors do.
Later on, when things get tough--and eventually, things always get tough--you want somebody who's been in the trenches, knows how it feels, and can help you guide the company between Scylla and Charybdis. Garry and Alexis have been there, and they do that.
If you're starting a company and looking to raise funding, I'd strongly recommend you speak with Initialized. There's a lot of talk in venture. Garry and Alexis walk the walk.
Article leads with a photo captioned "Garry Tan and Alexis Ohanian are looking to a build a VC firm for 'the next 100 years.'"
The closest the story comes to expounding on this that the firm has their own CRM software and that they "value doing our own research." A succinct summary of the article may be the paragraph leading "Like most VCs, Initialized says it isn't like the other VCs."
I can’t help but wonder what it is about tech people that makes them so eager to expend their precious mental cycles reinventing the CRM wheel. Anything custom you could ever want to do in a CRM can be done on Salesforce’s platform with a fraction of the effort.
Facebook, Amazon, and Google all use it to power various aspects of their back end, and yet start up culture folks continue to turn their nose up at it, while begrudgingly paying for their sales team’s licenses.
What’s up with that? Why does this community seem to hate the company that built a great product that everybody needs and established SaaS as a thing?
Out of curiosity, when was the last time you used it, and who owned the environment? It can certainly be that with the wrong person in charge of it.
The problem is the expectation that it’s going to function like one trick consumer tech tools out of the box. To see the value, each company must make it their own. They should be creating the UX themselves, and a different one for every type of user according to their role.
People say the same thing about every piece of business software they’ve never invested time to truly understand.
Salesforce gives you the Model and the View, some basic Controls and the ability to customize all 3 with both clicks and code + APIs. Sales Cloud is an app built on it. Salesforce is a PaaS.
The irony about VC is that they don’t invest in lifestyle business (except their own). Building your own CRM isn’t really rocket science. We’ve built automation and AI into our deal flow and company tracking and a bespoke search engine to help with competitive market analysis.
Want to be different? Run a VC firm like a startup: build proprietary technology to outcompete incumbents and scale in a way not possible without technology. It does’t even sound like they have a FT engineer.... Imagine investing in a startup that didn’t have a FT engineer! But that’s exactly what they (and most VCs) are asking of their Limited Partners! Sounds like a puffy and carefully managed PR piece with a complicit journalist to prime the raise of their next fund without triggering a Reg D 506c registration..
They may have great returns, smarter than most, and have higher conviction, but it’s pretty much same old same old of catching the wave of good deal flow from your celebrity network. Nothing innovative here.
Lot’s of VC partners are engineers. I’m specifically talking about the commitment to building technology in house as a core part of the business —- like Social Capital —- not a side project. You guys have celebrity brand and a great insider network so you’re already ahead but it’s likely not sufficient if you want to build a firm for the next 100 years.
I built one of the first in-house VC research platforms at Index Ventures back in 2012 (+am now starting a new early-stage VC firm in Europe where we're building our own tech to aide sourcing/workflow).
Since 2012 most of the top VCs (or at least those with the management fees to afford it) have evaluated/experimented going down this route to some extent with varying degrees of success.
Some like Social Capital have been relatively open about it (at least in parts) but generally most have kept a low profile to avoid giving away techniques they use to get a competitive edge.
Why? I think the real issue is that historically small VCs don’t make enough in management fees to support engineers, no one wants to sell part of the GP to invest in growth and scale, and large VCs make so much money from management fee and carry that they don’t care about the complexity. I’d be surprised if a16z didn’t have a few engineers in staff, but I know several of the big firms definetly don’t. It’s going to take a new commer stealing away their LPs to get them to change.
Could you enlighten me on your thoughts on what the engineers at a16z would do if not for focusing on getting better insight to vet deals?
Agreed on what you said, change doesn't come unless there's a burning bridge. If the firms have a current process that gets them to where they are today, they will just keep doing what they are already doing.
Perhaps a business opportunity to target the small VCs to help give them an edge.
Not every startup needs engineers. Not every valuable business has an engineering problem at it's heart. VC is fundamentally about capital allocation - funds don't necessarily need scalable or innovative internal tech to do a really great job at this. I know a fund of 6 people with no particular tech skills who are killing it because they're really smart investors.
There's a huge bias in the Valley (and obviously on here) towards hiring rockstar engineers and then trying to figure out problems to point them at. Isn't it way better to actually figure out a valuable problem first, and then hire the right mix of people (including engineers, but all the other skills also) to solve that problem?
Just in case you think I'm anti-engineer: I have been a software engineer my whole working life. My father is a chemical engineer and his father was a mechanical engineer. I love engineers, but sheesh - not everyone has to be an engineer, and not all value is created by engineers.
Seems like a good thing to have another VC firm that actually tries to make its own decisions. It doesn't seem particularly new or ambitious though.
New and ambitious would be attempting to beat YC at its own game. Competing head-to-head with YC for startups and trying to create a version of YC that was meritocratic and scaleable. For the good of the world, startups, and for profit.
Someone could create a version of YC that funds any startup that meets a certain level of traction for example. Or it could do funding by directly measuring the team's technical or other abilities. It could use a blind admissions system that doesn't rely on judging founders in 10 minute interviews.
YC funds just 3% of the founders that ask for funding. It's entirely likely that they fund the wrong 3% and/or ignore a huge percentage of potentially great startups.
There's only a few people in the world able to the raise money necessary to compete with YC and they all seem afraid to even try.
If someone was looking to compete with YC one starting differentiator could be to not force teams to relocate to SV for three months; something that YC has proven time and again they’re not open to budging on (aside for the mini-not quite YC program they ran). They’ve explained their rational but I don’t buy it.
And we ship. It's hard to unlearn solving problems via software when you've done it, especially at scale successfully, and it makes everyone at the org (and soon in the founder network) more effective and frankly happier doing their jobs.
OT - I hope Ohanian does more VC stuff than show up in Serena’s matches. I’ve watched many of Williams’ matches through out, and now watching Ohanian in the friends and family box, he seems out of place. The impression I get is like he is not in the group of entourage around Serena. There seems no chemistry between them and Ohanian.
I remember something that stuck with me, think it was when she last won the Wimbledon, and the camera followed her inside the complex. Ohanian was waiting for her and it just felt so awkward the interaction between Serena and Ohanian.
In contrast watching Roger Federer be greeted by his wife it felt so natural.
Do you have many married friends? There is frequently NO chemistry/friendship between a person and their spouse’s family. You choose your spouse but not your family, so there can be wild mismatches even with no hostility/animus.
My mistake it wasn't Wimbledon but the Australian Open. Other have noticed the same awkwardness I described . Granted DailyMail is not a real journalistic paper, but I include this because it shows the specific moments I found awkward including Serena not thanking him when she won.
About the box. It depends on the player. It's mostly the coaching and training team and some friends and family. Depending on the player and how successful they're. In this specific case, it was mostly trainers, coaches, probably manager, Serena's friends and some family member. So I'm trying to make this about family's not getting along. Serena's coaches, trainers and managers didn't show much connection to Ohanian.
I really don't want to get into this with you. It's not really worthwhile. In hindsight it was a foolish mistake to comment on this article.
But, I saw this match live (yes I stayed up late) and the entire network camera following her to this point where you were waiting for her. Only reason I posted this was because that whole post match process left an impression on me which I still remember.
I think it was the combination of you looking so eagerly for being mentioned by her and she didn't thank you or mentioned you when she was receiving the trophy and then the camera following her to the back. It was awkward. Sorry for my brutal honestly.
I'm a huge Serena fan and have been since she and Venus came to the scene. I've watched many of her matches. I mistook my memory with Wimbledon, but I knew I could have not been the only person who noticed something so clearly awkward. Sure enough I googled, "Serena Ohanian Awkward" and this article popped up. Facts are facts, I have nothing against you man.
But it should be okay for me to express what I saw and how I perceived it. There is nothing "fake news" about my vivid perception. Wishing you and her a wonderful life and health and hope she wins many many more big titles.
> But it should be okay for me to express what I saw and how I perceived it.
I get that you have a reaction to stuff that you see on TV, but so does everyone. This kind of weird celebrity gossip just has no place on this site and so we need you to please stop now. We're not here for that.