April 9, 2022
Photo: IndiaPix/IndiaPicture via Getty Images
Hello and welcome to Pipeline. This week: passing the proverbial torch, Uber’s crypto mafia and a VC NFT drop. Speaking of passing the torch, Biz will be back next week!
Generational transitions are not easy to pull off at venture firms, which are typically small, boutique partnerships built on the individual relationships between a small number of players. Transitioning between one or more leaders to the next generation can be fraught. There are the big (yet humble! always humble) personalities involved, egos to manage and, of course, the economics.
But it’s a necessary process, if a firm wants to last and stay on top in an intensely competitive industry. Sequoia this week named Roelof Botha, whom Biz profiled in depth recently, as the firm’s senior steward, taking over from Doug Leone.
Venture funds take years, so firms need to plan early. With funds lasting a decade or more and firms typically raising new funds every two or three years, that can be tricky.
Sequoia is known for handling the generational transitions well. It’s been a key part of its success.
There are many ways these transitions can fall apart. The most-cited recent example is Kleiner Perkins.
VC leaders need different skills than ordinary investors. This is not just about company-picking or -building.
Then there’s the matter of firm names. Sequoia wasn’t named Valentine Ventures for a reason. Meeker, despite her fame, didn’t go the partner-name route. But some more recently formed firms have gone with the classic naming structure. Maybe it’s too early to be talking about Haun Ventures’ succession plans. But given how quickly Web3 moves, perhaps we should?
“I dropped the ball on replying to an intro email from a founder. To spite me, he sends me metrics every month, with insane growth numbers and rocketship emojis. I marked it as spam so he now uses a different email address on every update.” — Nikita Bier, who has a founder spam problem.
“I send Christmas cards to engineers who turned down offer letters with the current value of the shares they would have received.” — Palmer Luckey, replying to Bier. (I don’t know if the above two tweets are true, but they are funny.)Has the Uber mafia gone full blockchain? Yes, according to Paradigm’s Sudhanshu Mishra, citing several alumni moves, including Jack Lu, Amy Sun and others starting Web3 startups.
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Embedded fintech has been a big theme in startups, and now embedded proptech could also make waves, says Matt Hersh.What a crypto version of Twitter would look like, via Elad Gil, including NFTs, tokens, identity, wallets and DAOs.
Poker phenom Annie Duke joined First Round as a “special partner focused on decision science.” She’ll help with decision-making, or maybe just figuring out when your startup needs to go all-in.
Base10 Ventures has $1 billion in AUM. It’s the first Black-led firm to reach that mark.
The owner of Ferrari wants to build the Italian Y Combinator. If only it were that easy …
From Protocol: AI could help college baseball players reach the majors, but at the cost of losing control over their biometric data.
This week in VC history: Remember the Jobs Act? Yes, that was 10 years ago.Your weekend reading: BuzzFeed News’ deep dive on Worldcoin, which it reports is having problems with field tests of its iris-scanning Orb hardware.
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