The Company You Keep

Note: This is a version of a previous post that has been updated with additional commentary.

It is increasingly clear to me that our institutions of higher learning are addicted to money, and they are more desperate for it than they are concerned about raising capital from those whose values don’t align. For example, MIT took funds from dubious Saudi Arabian donors despite persistent opposition from within the institution. “MIT’s continued collaboration with the Saudi government sends the message that human rights violations can be overlooked in favor of financial considerations,” a group of students wrote in a letter to the university.

Of course, it would be unfair to focus only on one school. Tufts University, for instance, has had a hand-in-pocket relationship with the Sacklers, the family behind Purdue Pharma, the largest opioids maker. And it’s not just universities — whether it is museums, hospitals, or tech startups: many organizations are happy to overlook the provenance of the money that supports them. Continue reading “The Company You Keep”

Who says startups are easy

A blog post by Fred Wilson, undoubtedly the king of early stage consumer web investing (Twitter, Tumblr, Etsy, Foursqaure, Zynga and Kickstarter), has many folks wringing their hands about consumer Internet investments and extolling the virtues of enterprise or more business focused companies. (It is only a matter of time, before it becomes a fad too, but let’s leave it for another day.)

I am just a little surprised that it has taken people this long to realize that doing a startup in this day and age is a massive problem. It is not just about the money — it is the increased attention diffusion which is a problem. I have been talking about this for a long time. Last year, I wrote about the lack of second chances on the modern, post-mobile Internet. Continue reading “Who says startups are easy”

There are 2 types of interviews…

A post on Fred Wilson’s blog prompted me to write something that has been on the back of my mind. I think there are two types of interviews, especially at our industry conferences. One’s that focus on information and others that focus on insight.

I like both formats and find both useful. It is just that, these days informational interviews are more popular because they result in details that can become “news fodder” for the hungry & hyper blog-based media machine. The ensuing link-swarm activity results in better SEO rankings.

The insight-focused interviews don’t provide as much link juice or sharing on Twitter/Facebook. And you actually need people – subjects, interviewers and audience that is willing to listen, pay attention and converse.