Changing Seats at the Table
Twenty years ago I quit the only “real” job that I ever had and started my first business. It was a pretty modest five-person software development shop writing database-driven applications and charging by the hour. My first exposure to venture capital and the high tech startup ecosystem was a few years later when the .com era was in full swing. My consulting company wrote a ton of software for startups in exchange for equity. Then one offered to hire us full time; we accepted and I became CTO and my team of developers came with me. Then I flew out to Silicon Valley to raise Venture Capital on Sand Hill Road: Something I did not know anything about, but found exciting.
We raised the money, built a business, and I never looked back. The startup I joined didn’t go public as we had planned, but we did eventually have the “exit.” It was 2002 and I had my first taste of the entrepreneurship bug. Over the next 13 years I got to be the co-founder or very early employee of 4 more venture-backed startups, all lucky enough to have an exit as well.
Over the past few years I had the opportunity to be part of the entrepreneur support system by doing a few angel investments of my own, sitting on some startup boards, mentoring startups at various accelerators, and co-founding and running an accelerator. It felt good to help entrepreneurs. As Telerik’s acquisition started to move from a discussion to a reality, I started to think about what would come next for me. As I talked with my friends and colleagues, they all gave me similar advice: Jump right into another startup. Apparently they all think that I’m good at it. I started to think about what kind of startups I can start or join.
Then one day this past summer, I went up to San Francisco and had breakfast with a partner at SOS Ventures, then met up for lunch with Peter Thiel and a bunch of the 20 under 20 fellows (I’m a mentor there), then made it back down to Palo Alto and had dinner with a friend who is a partner at a fund on Sand Hill Road. The next day it hit me; I literally had breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a different VC. I decided then that I had to change my seat at the table so to speak and move from being an entrepreneur to an investor. The experiences that I had over the past 20 years of being an entrepreneur could be put to use over a larger surface area than just one startup.
I couldn’t go work for just any old VC, I needed to find a fund that had the same values as me: entrepreneur-friendly, international, and diverse. I also needed the fund to be a bit of a startup itself: I like to build things. Lastly, I needed to really like the people I would be partners with. After I thought about it in those terms, it was obvious to me that joining Fresco Capital was the right choice for me.
I’m happy to announce that starting on Monday, January 19th, I’ll be officially joining Tytus and Allison as part of the Fresco Capital team. I’ll be involved in all aspects of investment and operations with a specific focus on enterprise and IoT. Being based in Silicon Valley with two partners in Hong Kong reminds me of my last gig. I guess old habits die hard…