Great interview. We must seize the memes of production, comrade. Never ask Sequoia about how much money they lost on FTX: https://yuribezmenov.substack.com/p/how-to-lose-214-million-in-one-year

Expand full comment

Was so fun doing this Joe, thanks again!

Expand full comment

Great interview! I posted the following comment there:

This was an excellent interview. I already knew a lot of it as a fan of Joe, but the lessons of his time at Clarium is fascinating and new to me. Also love his sense of humor that comes across here (admitting that his humility is only relative, ha)! My only critique of Joe is his lack of self-awareness when he criticizes “insular networks” and “old boys clubs” and yet he only meets potential founders via “warm intros.”

You’d think Y Combinator would have taught VCs by now that founders should just be able to apply for funding via a standardized publicly available form (or just be able to email VCs directly), but it looks like some elements of the old boys club die hard.

Expand full comment

Thanks! Yeah this one is complicated - a startup is basically an unnaturally difficult thing to do and most people shouldn’t be trying to found one probably, doing so is a special exception requiring multi-faceted abilities… and we have hundreds of posted CEOs and advisors, and thousands of talented engineers at our companies who can make intros to us. I agree it’s not a perfect system, but as we get sent thousands of deals it’s not practical for us to spend time on them all, and I think it’s generally a fair test of networking ability and BD (a key skill for founders for the industries we work in) to get one of the thousands of relevant people in our network to recommend the entrepreneur to us. It’s worked well so far, but I’m open to other ideas! But BD and being smart and scrappy is a real thing.

Expand full comment

Thanks for the response, Joe. This sounds more like survivorship bias than anything else; if Patrick Collison tried to reach out to you in Stripe’s early days, but couldn’t, you’d have no way of knowing. And so you think the system is working, but it could be working much better.

Yes, networking and BD is a skill, but the next Zuckerberg or Thiel could be a poor 14-year old in India and have no access to your networks. Your returns are much higher if you connect with such a person in the early stages.

The proof is in the pudding: YC doesn’t require warm intros, and they’ve funded more early stage breakout successes than any VC. Several of their most successful CEOs have said they wouldn’t have known how to network/find VCs in the beginning.

I’m glad you’re open to other ideas: here are three. 1. Open your Twitter DMs or list your email address publicly and have a clerk or chief of staff sift through the chaff. 2. Open your DMs and/or list an email address publicly specifically for founders- then read 1/100 to allow for serendipity. 3. List your email address publicly and/or open your DMs and actually read them all. The greatest entrepreneurs already do/did this (Collison at Stripe, Bezos at Amazon, Kalanick at Uber).

Even if you’re right 99% of the time, all you need is to invest in one awesome CEO who isn’t the greatest networker (who can find a cofounder) for this to pay off.

Expand full comment