Making My First Investment In The Valley

Learnings from recent trip to the valley:

  • If you want to invest, there are (decent) startups willing to talk.
  • It’s a web of connections in the valley. Tap on that web by asking somone you already know to introduce you to somebody else.
  • Related to the point above. Before making an investment, always ask to be introduced to at least one current investor. (Thanks Aadil for the tip!)
  • Get on Angel List.
  • If you want to be part of a VC setup, join at the partner level. If not you’ll just be doing somebody else’s grunt work.
  • Be helpful to people you meet (even startups you are not going to invest in). They will reciprocate.

So while I was in SF, a good friend of mine sent me a lead in a space I had already invested in, and lo and behold, I’ve made my first investment in a valley startup. FlightCar will be graduating from Y Combinator at the end of March. Looking forward to great stuff from three 18 year olds who dropped out of Harvard, Princeton and MIT to do this.

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Tim O’Reiley: ‘Create more value than you capture’

Tim O’Reiley on his new credo

Everybody wants to foster entrepreneurship, but we have to think about the preconditions for entrepreneurship. You grow great crops in great soil. And the soil is the commons.

So many technologies start out with a burst of idealism, democratization, and opportunity, and over time they close down and become less friendly to entrepreneurship, to innovation, to new ideas. Over time the companies that become dominant take more out of the ecosystem than they put back in.

If companies don’t think systemically enough—if they try to capture too much of the value—eventually innovation moves somewhere else.