What the greatest technology investors say about Vision

VISION POSTS (19 posts)

The following is a list of the post titles by author under this topic.  Scroll further down this page to find the actual blog post by your selected author.   Author’s posts appear in reverse alphabetical order. For example, following this list, Fred Wilson’s posts appear towards the beginning of the blog page, and Jeffrey Bussgang’s posts appear towards the end of the blog page.  


Jeffrey Bussgang:   Why Twitter Picked Fred Wilson as its Lead Investor

Jeffrey Bussgang:   What Drives Entrepreneurs

Jeffrey Bussgang:  Considerations when Determining an Exit

JEFF CLAVIER  (1 post)

Jeff Clavier:  Jeff Clavier: What I Look at When Investing

RON CONWAY   (1 post)

Ron Conway:  What Ron Conway Looks For in a Deal

BRAD FELD   (1 post)

Brad Feld:   Brad Feld's Investment Criteria

BILL GROSS   (2 posts)

Bill Gross:   The Biggest Entrepreneurial Lesson

Bill Gross:   Balance Entrepreneur's Strengths

ROB HAYES   (1 post)

Rob Hayes:   Going for Growth vs. Revenue


Reid Hoffman & Ben Casnocha:   What Great Silicon Valley Companies Have in Common

MIKE MAPLES JR.   (2 posts)

Mike Maples Jr.:  Mike Maples Jr.: What I Look For

Mike Maples Jr.:  Great Startups Have a Simple Elegance

HOWARD MORGAN   (1 post)

Howard Morgan:   The Best Execution Wins Out

PETER THIEL   (1 post)

Peter Thiel:  Answers to Contrarian Questions  Look into the Future

FRED WILSON  (5 posts)

Fred Wilson:  Hire Slowly & Wisely, not Quickly

Fred Wilson:  What's the Magic

Fred Wilson:  Culture, Values & a Vow to a Great Workplace are Everything

Fred Wilson:  Fred Wilson: Hire for Culture & Fit

Fred Wilson:   The Only Way to Make Money


The Only Way to Make Money

Fred Wilson venture capitalist and Co-Founder Union Square Ventures

“So Bill Gurley one time wrote something that I think is really really true which is the only way to make a lot of money is to believe something that everyone else believes is wrong [] that turns out to be right. [] The only way to make money is to believe something that turns out to be true that nobody else believes.” This Week in Startups, Fred Wilson, episode # 523, Mar 10, 2015 @ approx. 16.42 min.


Fred Wilson: Hire for Culture & Fit

Fred Wilson venture capitalist and Co-Founder Union Square Ventures

“Some entrepreneurs and CEOs buy into "hire the best talent available" mantra. [] The other approach [Wilson advocates] is [to] hire for culture and fit.

[] Diversity should be a core value of the team building process. [Seek] diversity of thought, experience, mindset, and angle of attack.

Don't hire a token []. But most importantly, hire people who will enjoy working together, who fit well together, who will make each other better. This is what hiring for cultural fit means. [Start] with the founding team and build on top of that.

[][Have] a one pager that outlines the [company’s core values].  [] [Each] new hire should be assessed against [that] framework [for fit].”  Fred Wilson  MBA Mondays: Culture And Fit, May 21 2012;

Culture, Values & a Vow to a Great Workplace are Everything

Fred Wilson venture capitalist and Co-Founder Union Square Ventures

Once the user base supports a long-term sustainable business (stage 2), the final “building the business” stage begins, i.e., building a management team including leaders for engineering, product, customer support, finance, marketing, sales, business development and HR (human resources). 

“Founders should think of the business as [the ultimate product being built] because from the company can come [additional products and initiatives].  The company, if built correctly [with strong founder commitment], will be more important than any single product it can create”. 

Wilson recommends that the founder /CEO have “a partner to help [] build the company” like a senior, experienced HR leader or “a strong number two, a President or COO.”

“[The] people side of the business is harder and way more complicated than building a product is.  [Culture], values and a commitment to creating a fantastic workplace [must] come from the top [and are everything]. [] [If] there is a meaningful culture that the entire team buys into, the team will stick together [and surmount challenges].

[] A company is a self sustaining entity that expresses the hopes, dreams, vision, values and culture of the founder and leaders.”  Fred Wilson  The Management Team - While Building The Business  Jan 16, 2012  ;

What's the Magic

Fred Wilson venture capitalist and Co-Founder Union Square Ventures

“It’s the right person or people, with the right idea, packaged up with the right product at the right time in the right market…and  [] that’s the magic.”  Fred Wilson  #StartupStories: The Pitch @ 4.3 min into video, May 30 2012;  The Pitch:

Hire Slowly & Wisely, not Quickly

Fred Wilson venture capitalist and Co-Founder Union Square Ventures

“[Wilson’s] strong bias on [optimal headcount] [] is that  less is more.  [Repeatedly] [he’s] seen the entrepreneur who wants to hire quickly fail and [] the entrepreneur [who’s] [] slow to hire succeed.”

In his experience with software-based consumer internet businesses, “[] [success] might be most highly correlated with a slow hiring ramp [] [during a company’s early years.]  Being resource constrained can be [good] when [] getting started.  It forces [] [a] focus on what's working and get[ting] to the rest of the vision later on. []” His advice: “[] hire slowly and wisely instead of quickly.”  Fred Wilson MBA Mondays: Optimal Headcount At Various Stages, Jun 4 2012;

Answers to Contrarian Questions Look into the Future

Peter Thiel General Partner Founders Fund and former entrepreneur

“Our contrarian question- What important  truth do very few people agree with you on? – is difficult to answer directly.  It may be easier to start with a preliminary: what does everybody agree on? [] If you can identify a delusional popular belief, you can find what lies hidden behind it: the contrarian truth.” 

“The most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself.”

“The business version of our contrarian question is: what valuable company is nobody building?  This question is harder than it looks, because your company could create a lot of value without becoming very valuable itself.  Creating value is not enough – you also need to capture some of the value you create.” 

“Most answers to the contrarian question are different ways of seeing the present; good answers are as close as we can come to looking into the future.”  Peter Thiel, Zero to One, copyright 2014, pg 12, 22, 23, 6

The Best Execution Wins Out

Howard Morgan Partner First Round Capital

“[Morgan] comments [that] wire frames or some progress toward a product should be achievable given how inexpensive it is to produce. [] [Morgan] cites a quote from [composer] Stephen Sondheim “Having just the vision is no solution, everything depends on execution.”   He contrasts incremental improvement against postponed perfection and states the importance of execution and the ability to ship product.  He says many people often have similar plans but the best execution wins out.” Howard Morgan Want to Know How First Round Capital was Started?  April 20, 2011;

Great Startups Have a Simple Elegance

Mike Maples Jr. Founding Partner Floodgate and former entrepreneur

“[Great] startups have a simple elegance to them where you just immediately say, That’s a great idea and I think it’s going to work, and I think this entrepreneur can pull it off.” Mike Maples, Seed Capital From Angel Investors: Mike Maples, Founder And Managing Partner, Floodgate, July, 2010;

Mike Maples Jr.: What I Look For

Mike Maples Jr. Founding Partner Floodgate and former entrepreneur

“We just love the companies where the entrepreneurs have a really authentic, passionate understanding of the area and they want to just do something massive.

[] [The] first thing that we look for [in people] is authenticity.[] [The] term serial entrepreneur is not always a positive virtue. We like people who say to us, This is the only company I ever want to do.

The second thing that we look for is completeness in the team. Experience and completeness aren’t necessarily the same thing.  A complete team has a combination of business and technical vision and business and technical execution. If you have all four of those bases covered, the probability that you will be stopped by something where you had a blind spot goes down [].

[The] third thing that we look for is how experienced is the team. [] [Those] first two things matter to us more. Execution can be hired; vision can’t. So, it’s that authentic voice and a team that meshes well together in a special way . . . that’s the stuff you can’t hire and fix later. If you get it right when the company starts, then you have a better chance, in our view.”  Mike Maples, Seed Capital From Angel Investors: Mike Maples, Founder And Managing Partner, Floodgate, July, 2010;

What Great Silicon Valley Companies Have in Common

Reid Hoffman angel investor, Co-Founder & Executive Chairman LinkedIn and Partner Greylock & Ben Casnocha entrepreneur

 What great Silicon Valley companies like Intel, Apple, Google, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn  among others have in common: “[] Take intelligent and bold risks to accomplish something great.  Build a network of alliances to help [] with intelligence, resources and collective action.  Pivot to a breakout opportunity.”  Reid Hoffman & Ben Casnocha, The Start-up of You (book) pg 18-19

Going for Growth vs. Revenue

Rob Hayes Partner First Round Capital

When determining their business model Hayes advises entrepreneurs to consider whether it’s better to initially go for growth or revenue.  There’s conflicting advice on this issue.

Examples of business model strategies and how they played out when acquired:   Hayes believes Google’s $1.6 billion acquisition of UTube was visionary. “[] [Hayes] look[s] at what Google did with UTube [] and everybody thought [Google] was crazy [to pay $1.6 billion for it] and it was absolutely the right thing to do.”  Today UTube is certainly worth several times $1.6 billion. “[] [UTube was a] great buy. [Hayes] think[s] [the] Instagram [acquisition] may be along those same lines.”

Hayes believes the Instagram acquisition was also visionary.  When acquired by Facebook for $1 billion April 2012, the photo-sharing site was experiencing substantial growth but hadn’t generated any real revenue nor tried to make money.  Hayes believes that Instagram’s focus on growth was the right strategy because it was obvious it could eventually generate revenue by nominally charging for filters. 

“[] [If] how you can [eventually] make revenue is obvious, [] then focus on growth [] [and] user acquisition.  [] Distribution is the absolute hardest thing to do with an Internet company. [] [Focusing initially on generating revenue] slows growth and growth is what sells.  Growth is where you get the highest valuations.”  Rob Hayes  This Week in Startups, TWiST #249 Published Apr 18, 2012  @ 15- 20  min;

Balance Entrepreneur's Strengths

Bill Gross Founder and CEO business incubator Idealab

“Design a structure around [the entrepreneur’s] strengths, and balance that by hiring complementary skills.”  Gross enjoys working on many different projects, considering himself unfocused--“[] yet for a company to succeed, it needs focus. At Idealab [they] brought people in with skills [Gross] lack[ed]. [They] devised a structure for companies to succeed by staying laser-like focused on their mission, but allowed [Gross] to be involved in multiple companies.”   Bill Gross: Here Are The 12 Lessons I've Learned In My 30 Years Of Being An Entrepreneur, Bill Gross, Chime  Dec. 15, 2011;

The Biggest Entrepreneurial Lesson

Bill Gross Founder and CEO business incubator Idealab

“[Perhaps the] biggest, entrepreneurial lesson: All truth passes through three stages. First, an idea is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. Think about it: A breakthrough idea is a crazy idea . . . right until it crosses over to be a big breakthrough idea. You must be willing to face some ridicule and opposition before you can make your idea become self-evident.”  Bill Gross: Here Are The 12 Lessons I've Learned In My 30 Years Of Being An Entrepreneur, Dec. 15, 2011, as quoting German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer;

Brad Feld's Investment Criteria

Brad Feld  venture capitalist and Managing Director Foundry Group

Feld discusses his investment criteria.  Feld first determines if the investment falls within his ‘filters’: US and Canada-domiciled early stage firms which have raised less than $3 million and fall within one of “[Foundry’s] [] [broad horizontal, abstract themes]”.  Assuming the investment fits within these filters, “[] then [Foundry] goe[s] incredibly deep on [] people and product. [] [Feld gets] excited about people who are super-obsessed about a product.  [] [If Feld wants to work with the entrepreneur, and the entrepreneur wants to work with him and is product-obsessed, and Feld has an attachment for that product, then he’ll invest.]  [] [Feld]  [already knows his markets, competitive dynamics, the business model.]  [] All [Feld] care[s] about is what [the entrepreneur is] going to do with the idea [] or the product or [where he’s taking] it”.  The best founding teams are 2-4 people half of whom are product-focused.  His optimal nascent team is 3 people, 2 of whom are product-focused, “all [of whom] are passionate [about] the product []”.  Brad Feld,  This Week in Startups # 319, published Jan. 9, 2013,  @ 25- 32 min. into interview with  Jason Calacanis;

What Ron Conway Looks For in a Deal

Ron Conway angel investor

What Ron Conway looks for in a deal: “[] traits that good investors look for in entrepreneurs []”:

[] personal chemistry with the entrepreneur 

[] great idea

[] solving a practical and real problem

[] sectors that [grow] at thousands of percent a year

[] good elevator pitch – [ability to articulate what the company wants to do] in 5 words 

[] IP (intellectual property) [] matter[s]

[] [team’s] personal characteristics including [intangibles like passion, vision, body language, being decisive, reliable] ]

[] hire ahead of [the] needs [if possible []]

[] CEO [] [must set the example as a team builder and leader] []”.

Ron Conway, Startupatwork Interview Ron Conway: What Ron Looks For In A Deal, StartupAtWork  Feb 20, 2010;


Jeff Clavier: What I Look at When Investing

Jeff Clavier angel investor, Founder and Managing Partner, SoftTech VC

“I look at the three typical factors [when investing]:  the team, the product, and the market.

[] I’m going to really focus on the team. What’s their background? What have they done? What’s the dynamic between the different members, are they complementary?

[] an early-stage team is always about two or three people, and they have a lot of potential [] but they don’t have everything. [] I’m always looking at the core team as the initial asset I invest in.

[] I don’t want to have to change the founding team []. It’s either I buy them as they are or I pass on them as they are.

[] Can I see them being successful as they are without fundamental changes to the team? Otherwise, it is just too much work.

[] I want people working extremely hard while being dedicated to and passionate about their business and who have empathy. You have to walk on water to be a successful entrepreneur, so empathy is very important.

Sometimes you just feel that people are natural-born entrepreneurs because you see they have a clear vision, understand the steps, and know how to go from where they are to the next steps. [] If they can convince you as an investor, they will be able to convince employees [] to join them or future customers to use their products.” Jeff Clavier, Seed Capital From Angel Investors: Jeff Clavier, Founder And Managing Partner, SoftTech VC; July-Aug. 2010;

Considerations when Determining an Exit

Jeffrey Bussgang venture capitalist and General Partner Flybridge Capital Partners and former entrepreneur 

 “Timing and [one’s] own personal commitment are both important factors [in determining an exit].  Twitter’s Jack Dorsey gets asked [] - when will Twitter exit?  [Dorsey] explained [] his views on this issue [] that [essentially] the best entrepreneurs don’t focus on the money, they focus on their passion and dream for the business.

“You always have to go back to the question, ‘Is exiting the right thing for the product?’” Jack explained. “There were many times in our history when, technology-wise, we weren’t up to snuff and we could have used more infrastructure. We could have used the resources of a Google or a Facebook or a Yahoo!  But until you feel like you’ve completed some aspects of the vision, it just doesn’t make sense to hand it over.  If you have that idea and you’ve more or less seen the end of it, and now you’re just racking your brain trying to figure out how to push it any further, the product might be better off in the hands of someone else, because you’ve done what you can. That’s basically what it comes down to for me. Are you done? If you are, then exit. If you’re not, keep going for it.”” Jeffrey Bussgang, book Mastering the VC Game –A Venture Capital Insider Reveals How to get from Start-up to IPO on your terms. copyright 2010, pg 195

What Drives Entrepreneurs

Jeffrey Bussgang  venture capitalist and General Partner Flybridge Capital Partners and former entrepreneur

 In describing what drives an entrepreneur, Bussgang says that “it comes down to an essential character trait []: the entrepreneurial itch. When you have it, you just have to scratch it.  You really can’t help yourself.

Being an entrepreneur may be something deep in the genes. []

Genetic or not, there are certain classic characteristics of the entrepreneur.  The most important of these are a certain kind of visionary optimism; tremendous confidence in oneself that can inspire confidence in others; huge passion for an idea or phenomenon that drives them forward; and a desire to change the game, so much so that it changes the world.”  Jeffrey Bussgang, book Mastering the VC Game –A Venture Capital Insider Reveals How to get from Start-up to IPO on your Terms. copyright 2010, pg 14

Why Twitter Picked Fred Wilson as its Lead Investor

Jeffrey Bussgang venture capitalist and General Partner Flybridge Capital Partners and former entrepreneur 

Bussgang discusses why Twitter founder Jack Dorsey picked Union Square Ventures VC Fred Wilson as his lead investor.  Below are story highlights.

Dorsey said, “[] We wanted to be questioned, we wanted to be challenged, and we wanted to see some of their thinking around actually developing this product. [] [Wilson] was very aggressive, in a good way, in a thinking way. [] he was a day-to-day user of our service and he obviously loved it.  He came [] with lots of questions about why we had done what we had done. That helped clarify our thinking [].  [Wilson] could contribute to the product’s vision and direction to help lead the company to success.”

“[]Wilson [] likes to think of himself as the entrepreneur’s consigliere [] with great pattern recognition. “I want to be the person they call when they need some advice. [] we’ve seen all these issues a lot [].[] I’ve observed enough to know what’s happening and interpret it appropriately.””  Jeffrey Bussgang, Mastering The VC Game,   pg  124  125, 114