Where Social Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Meet


April 4th, 2012 · Personal, VC, tech

So I mentioned last week that I’d be giving a bit of insight into the day-to-day happenings in the life of a young VC, or as my business card would say “Associate.” Now, making an investment is pretty exciting, right? You’re putting money into a company, hoping that all of your analysis (whether in your gut or in Excel) turns ultimately into an exit of some sort, either through an acquisition or IPO. Well, what exactly happens when an exit occurs?

I got my first glimpse of that yesterday, when TxVia, one of New York  City Investment Fund’s portfolio companies, announced that it had been acquired by none other than Google! Congrats to Anil and the rest of the team. Now, I can’t divulge too much in the way of the financial details, which remain closed off to the general public, but hopefully I can shed a little bit of light into the other REALLY EXCITING DETAILS for you!

…it’s funny, though. At least on my end, there wasn’t really anything too different about my day. Sure, I saw a few extra emails in my inbox yesterday morning and had a few discussions with my CEO and General Counsel about the deal, but business pretty much just proceeded as normal. At the end of the day, I calculated our IRR based on the closing docs I received from our General Counsel (sorry, I cannot disclose that number!) and… that’s about it. I went on to finish the summary of an investment memo that was due, prepared some materials for the FinTech Innovation Lab and, well, went about my business as usual. What’ll happen next? Well, I’m sure I’ll have a bit more work to do in the coming days, and the funds will be wired to our account sometime this week, but that will pretty much be that.

Kind of a letdown? Perhaps. But at the end of the day, it’s essentially just a transfer of ownership, right? The real excitement, at least for me, is really in those initial meetings with the entrepreneurs, talking with company management about how their product or service is going to disrupt an industry or change the world. Maybe being removed from direct financial benefit of an exit as a junior investment professional changes the perspective some, but getting the opportunity (in whatever capacity) to help an entrepreneur as they build something out of nothing — now that I can get excited about every day, exit or not!

Now, without further ado, congratulations again to TxVia and here’s to many more successful New York startups in the future!

Note: I work at a bit of a non-traditional venture firm as you may have noticed, so YMMV. If you’re a junior VC at another firm and get million dollar bonuses at each exit, please comment below with your name and number, and I’ll be sure to contact you ASAP. Also, the above describes a strategic acquisition. If you’re looking for deets on what happens in an IPO, you gotta look for another blog.

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Young Money

March 29th, 2012 · Personal, VC, tech

No, no… actually this post is not going to be about the state of hip hop or the record label founded by a certain rapper. Rather, I just wanted to write briefly about how it seems like the most prolific posters in the venture world seem to be partners and the like and that there are few associates and principals (young investors) regularly posting in the blogosphere.

I guess it makes some sense, given that junior guys have less experience and insight to offer (on average) compared to someone who’s been in the industry for awhile. Blogs from venture veterans like Chris Dixon, Fred Wilson, Mark Suster, and Bijan Sabet were very eye-opening for me when I first started exploring the VC world, as were blogs of “rising stars” like Rob Go. But what about the perspective of venture life from someone who’s 25 years old?

It’s kind of funny that I blogged more here prior to making the move to venture capital and post only once every few months now, but hey — now that I’m a bit more acclimated to the new job now, why not pick it up again and provide some perspectives into venture capital from an associate’s point of view?

Now, I’m not claiming by any means that I’ll have thoughts that are as smart or insightful as the folks I mentioned above, but I’m going to shoot for a post a week about the associate life / perspective that will hopefully be entertaining to you all! Apologies to all my readers and subscribers who’ve been left hanging over the past 6-12 months, but I’m going to try and make it up to you. Cheers.

P.S. If there are any topics you’d be interested in knowing about from a junior VC’s point of view, please feel free to post in the comments or contact me.

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Starting Up in New York

November 21st, 2011 · VC, tech

On Saturday, the New York Times published a very cool graphic mapping the 400+ startups in NYC that have raised money from investors in the last two years. Many of these companies are ones that my firm has invested in, and given the firm’s mission to strengthen and diversify the city’s economy, I’m excited to see how the startup ecosystem continues to grow in New York! Click here to see a high-res version of the map.

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PIPA and SOPA. What’s the Big Deal?

November 16th, 2011 · VC, tech

For more details, read the posts by Bijan Sabet and Fred Wilson or watch this video on Vimeo.

Take 30 seconds and click here to write your congressman.

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Moving On, For Real!

August 16th, 2011 · Personal, VC, socent, tech

Unlike a post made on this blog on April 1 of last year, this post actually does confirm I have indeed moved on from investment banking to pursue new opportunities. Specifically, I decided earlier this year to join a venture capital firm here in New York City and just had my first day on the job yesterday.

My new firm is called the New York City Investment Fund, which often leads people to ask if I am now a public servant of sorts (answer: no). The answer is that NYCIF is a private fund, but that it was formed with a civic mission in mind. In particular, it pursues the goal of strengthening and diversifying New York City’s economy in addition to seeking financial return. This might take place through promoting burgeoning high-tech industries in NYC, like biotech or cleantech, or it could come through investing in a non-profit bakery that provides jobs and teaching skills to low-income women. Yes, one could say that it fits right in with the title of this blog — where social entrepreneurship and venture capital meet!

While my roles and responsibilities will be ones that I figure out over time, I do know that one of my primary tasks will be to help manage the FinTech Innovation Lab, which you may have read about on TechCrunch back in December. I’m looking forward to joining the city’s innovation economy in earnest (instead of just attending meetups and events on the side) and hope to be meeting many more tech and social entrepreneurs going forward.

For more info on what NYCIF does, you can read this brief piece on my CEO Maria Gotsch, who was recently named as one of the “People to Watch in Silicon Alley” by Crain’s, or watch this interview with her on Bloomberg TV. Also, feel free to email me at any time!

Finally, a big thanks to everyone who helped me and encouraged me during the year-long process of recruiting. You know who you are!

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Whartonite Seeks Code Monkey

May 31st, 2011 · VC, tech

Just earlier this morning, a friend of mine Gchatted me with a question: Did I know of any developers that could help him with a start-up idea of his? I told him most of the folks I knew were either working full-time on

their own start-ups or already involved in multiple side projects, but I forwarded him on a list of great articles that provides a great starting point for non-technical founders to think about how to get off the ground. Given how commonly this question is posed these days, I thought I’d write up a quick post.

StartupDigest has actually consolidated several great threads / blog posts in one place, so click here for a primer on “Getting Started as a Non-Technical Founder,” including one by Vin Vacanti, a former Wall-Streeter who co-founded Yipit. And if you do happen to be a developer who’d be interested in a side project, please do let me know, and I can put you in touch with my friend.

As a side note in case you’re wondering, Whartonite Seeks Code Monkey is an actual site started by a couple of Penn engineering students as an inside joke about “silly Whartonites” looking for Penn developers to help them with their amazing multi-billion dollar start-up idea. Follow them on Twitter.

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Happy April Fools’!

April 1st, 2011 · tech

My favorites are Robin Hood and Werner Heisenberg.

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