David Churbuck, my editor at Forbes.com pulled me aside and said — in addition to the big companies, I want you to write about startups: one’s you really like. That was over twenty years ago and thus began my love affair with founders, ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. I was a reluctant start to a life long romance — one which has culminated with me on the other side of the table — as a venture investor. But I can’t help myself always being an investor second, and champion of the startups first. No matter what I do, I can’t think of startups as “deals.”
Instead, startups are opportunities. Opportunities to reshape the world, opportunities to reimagine the future and opportunities to ride along with a founder and their singular obsessions. My partner Jon Callaghan, forced me to think about these opportunities in even starker terms — chase those that you love, not like. And go and find founders who are singularly obsessed and in love with their ideas. Why? Because when the going is tough, love is what gets you through.
When I started to think about entrepreneurship from the lens of love, it suddenly became easier for me to understand why I was fond of certain founders and their companies. Tim Westergren (of Pandora), Aaron Levie (of Box), Denis Crowley (Foursquare), Jack Dorsey (of Twitter and Square) are some of the contemporary founders who started off & continue to do what they do, not to move the dials on life’s materialistic dashboards (a little confusing?), but for what they really love. Silicon Valley’s history has many founders who might not be remembered today, but were those who did it for love.
As I sit here today, Valentine’s Day, I can’t help but think about founders and their love!
February 14, 2017, San Francisco