VCs rethink the office
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VCs rethink the office

Protocol Pipeline

Hello, and welcome to Pipeline. I’m Biz Carson, and welcome to October. It’s officially spooky season.

This week in the startup world: VCs rethink the office, inside the Twitter deal-making, and Cloudflare tries to woo startups.

VCs rethink where — and what — their office spaces are

In the pre-pandemic times, Contrary’s network of venture scouts, founders, and top technologists reflected the magnetic pull Silicon Valley had on the tech industry. About 80% were based in the Bay Area, with a smattering living elsewhere. Today, when Contrary asked where people in its network were living, the split had changed with 40% in the Bay Area and another 40% living in or planning to move to New York.

It’s totally bifurcated now, said Contrary’s founder Eric Tarczynski. “That was a big wake-up call for us. Before the pandemic, New York wasn’t even really on the road map,” Tarczynski said. “A huge cross-section of engineers are now in New York.”

Sand Hill Road is losing its shine as more VCs rethink where they’re located. That’s not to say the Bay Area is over (I’d argue far from it). But cities like New York are still “having their moment” and continue to grow in share of venture deals over the Bay Area.

  • In the last year, venture firms like Sequoia, Andreessen Horowitz, and Lightspeed have added offices in New York City.
  • Check-writing partners for Greylock and Threshold VC moved to NYC, while other firms have stealthily set up shop with small teams working out of WeWorks. Even the reporters covering Silicon Valley are moving to NYC.

There’s another strategy change afoot. More venture firms are experimenting with building community spaces instead of more offices for their partners to work out of.

  • In New York, Tarczynski’s venture firm built Contrary NYC, a space that’s meant to be like a Soho House for techies (minus the pool, restaurants, and hotel rooms). It’s supposed to evoke the feel of a club where engineers and entrepreneurs can hang out together, have a space to work, and host events for people in tech. In the last few weeks, there have been female founder dinners, comedy shows, and an appearance by Serena Williams at a launch party for startup Parfait held at Contrary NYC.
  • In Los Angeles, Brianne Kimmel’s Worklife fund opened up its new Worklife Studios space in the Silver Lake neighborhood. She advertises the space as a location where “Discords and DAOs can host events, remote workers can meet new people, and anyone can enjoy our eclectic schedule of gatherings — from dinner parties with the neighborhood to album listening parties with artists.” This past weekend, a thousand people were waiting in line to get into its space: The band Wallows was doing a pop-up merch store.
Part of it is finding a tribe outside of Silicon Valley. In SF, it can be frustratingly homogenous with many people working in and around the tech industry. In NY and LA, there’s more diversity and with that more opportunity for VCs to step in and be that beacon for the tech communities in a way that’s not as needed in a market like the Bay Area. “For the past 20 or 30 years, SF was the only game in town,” Tarczynski said. “Having a little bit more distribution and even talent flow is frankly pretty good for the venture community.”


“This makes it seem like I’m desperate. Please stop,” Elon Musk texted angel investor Jason Calacanis over his promotion of an SPV to buy Twitter shares. Court filings filled with Elon Musk’s texts this week showed the fascinating network of relationships and power brokers that surround Musk in this deal — and the things that they’re angling for. Steve Jurvetson suggested Emil Michael for the job of CEO, but Musk shot it down in favor of someone with actual software experience. Larry Ellison and Reid Hoffman both signed off to invest billions via text. Calacanis had the most interesting relationship with Musk, sending off ideas about charging people, forcing employees back to the office, and even throwing his name in the ring for CEO. Musk asked if he wanted to be an adviser, and Calacanis replied “Board member, advisor, whatever.” “[Y]ou have my sword.” That tone changed later on when Musk appeared miffed at Calacanis after Morgan Stanley and Musk employee Jared Birchall were “very upset” with the way Calacanis was running the deal and that he was taking advantage of his friendship with Musk. “Only ever want to support you,” Calacanis replied in the texts.

“Some of the business practices don’t rise to the level of ethics that we’re all used to in private equity with your investors and your customers and your community, and that has been a bit disappointing,” said Thoma Bravo co-founder Orlando Bravo in a rebuke of the crypto industry. After buying shares in FTX and a handful of other crypto companies, the private equity billionaire told the FT that he’s backing off investing in the crypto market for now despite remaining long-term bullish on the sector.

“When my friend asks if I want to invest, of course I’m going to kick in $10,000 — it’s a way to stay connected, an excuse to get updates,” an anonymous startup founder told Bloomberg. It’s a sign of the times that startup founders are comparing angel investing to Instagram, but just with a cost to “follow” their friends' work.


Valuations have become less hype-driven and more realistic; the amount of time spent on due diligence has increased substantially; and every founder needs to directly, clearly, and concisely answer the question, “Does this project have any real-world utility, and does it create economic value?”

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Inside track

Impersonating someone’s identity on a fake Facebook profile is pretty run-of-the-mill these days. But pretending to be someone else entirely in job interviews? It happened to developer Connor Tumbleson when he uncovered that someone was paying people to impersonate him in job interviews to land contract work.

Chief technical officers have technical in the name, but actually being highly technical isn’t a given. Former Dropbox CTO Aditya Agarwal argues that CTOs should actually be engineers and not just managerial types.

M&A is much more likely to be on a startup’s roadmap in a market like this one, but founders need to begin the conversations early and think broadly about who potential acquirers could be, says Canvas’ Mike Ghaffary, who is expecting an uptick in deals beginning in Q1 of 2023.

If software is eating the world, “did we overeat on software?” Lumos CEO Andrej Safundzic asks the question (ironically on a16z’s blog Future) about whether there is officially too much startup out there or if there’s an appetite for more.

Need to know

Cathie Wood gets into the venture market. The new Ark Venture Fund is making a play for individual investors through the Titan platform, and is going to be a mix of mostly private and some public holdings.

Hope isn’t entirely lost for the IPO market. Andreessen Horowitz-backed TripActions has reportedly confidentially filed to go public at a $12 billion valuation, up from its last round around $7 billion.

VCs earmarked $1.25 billion for startups built on Cloudflare. Taking aim at AWS and Google, Cloudflare is trying to lure developers to build on its tech by promising to connect them with VCs like IVP, Lightspeed, and Bessemer who agreed to support it.

California companies will have to start publishing their pay ranges on job postings. In a push towards pay transparency, CA Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that will require companies with more than 15 employees to disclose their pay ranges.

Moves: MoviePass’ former CEOs are facing fraud charges by the SEC. Interpol is looking for Terraform Labs founder Do Kwon, who says that he’s not on the run.

From Protocol: Figma thinks its future will be brighter with Adobe, and it could one day involve video or 3D objects too, its CPO Yuhki Yamashita told Protocol.

Also from Protocol: RPA giant UiPath had a rocky few years. Rob Enslin wants to turn it around.

Your weekend reading: Crypto enthusiasts moved to Puerto Rico en masse for its tax laws, but Hurricane Fiona has made the tension grow between the island and the crypto class.


The VC correction is proving once again that valuations are not an indicator of success. While money continues to flow, the crypto winter and VC slowdown have forced even the most committed Web3 venture capitalists (and their investors) to proceed with more caution.

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