Back from Faroe Islands

It was a magical week away from the daily hubbub of technology, social media and the Internet. I am rejuvenated (though immensely tired) after my trip to the Faroe Islands. Yesterday was one of those days, spent exclusively in bed (except for a walk to my favorite cafe, for a much needed espresso), recovering from a jet lag.

I have about a 1000+ photos to sort through, and about 40-50 that need to be post processed in the LightRoom. I will share my photos and learnings from this trip later, but for now, just wanted to let you know, I am back from my break. So come back every day for new updates, new links and hopefully very soon, a brand new design!

May 23, 2016, San Francisco

Capital with a purpose

Earlier this evening, my partner and co-founder of True Ventures, Jon Callaghan, gave a keynote speech as the outgoing chairman of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), highlighting the virtues of the venture capital industry and its role in the larger economic well being of society. Too often, technology and venture capital have been defined … Continue reading Capital with a purpose

In NY, Let a Thousands of Startups bloom

I was in New York last week, for what was essentially a blink of an eye. The reason for my visit — a dinner hosted by our firm, True Ventures, for a growing number of portfolio companies in the city that will always remain the center of my universe. It was amazing to see 60-odd people at the event, all mingling with each other, sharing their stories and outlining their ambitions and challenges. 

We don’t have an office in New York, but True now has about a dozen companies that are based in the city. These include names such as Teachers Pay TeachersPeloton, littleBits, Namely, Splice and Triple Lift; just a few of the fast-growing companies from New York. 

Our dinner gathering was an apt reflection of New York’s growing presence in the global technology landscape. According to data collected by research firm CB Insights, the New York region pulled in about $1.94 billion in venture funding during the first three months of 2016 — second only to Silicon Valley, and the highest in any quarter during past five years.

NY_tech_funding_Q1-16

The New York Times, in an article today pointed out that while there have been many startups hits from New York, there is yet to be a successful company out of New York that is as big as Google or Facebook or even Salesforce.

I would argue that New York’s biggest success is Kickstarter – that has created a brand new way of creating and measuring demand, enabling creativity and shown the way for a new economic model. It might not be as large in terms of revenues or shareholder value, but when it comes to creating human capital, Kickstarter stands side by side with the giants on the Mount Olympus of technology. 

Still, I understand the need for such big gargantuan companies — after all, they provide great marketing for a region and investors, and can provide a lot of economic boost. However, I feel that any region needs to think not in terms of size of their hits, but the impact of the ecosystem. A thriving startup ecosystem should provide economic growth and employment. They should not be measured by their relative size, but by their impact on the region, its founders and its community at large. 

I am more excited about the growing diversity of New York’s startup ecosystem. Name a sector and you have a startup represented in New York. After spending an evening with the creators of change from True family, I know they will be the ones who will keep New York on the map for a long time to come. 

May 2, 2016, San Francisco

How Far Have You Come?

A few weeks back I went to Delhi to see my parents. They still live in the same house where I grew up. It is a little older. The neighborhood is a bit more crowded. The sun fails in its valiant attempts to kiss the ground. The smog feels a little heavier. Air is a little hard hard to breathe. The decibels have inched higher. The power lines are locked in mortal combat with telephone and cable lines. A few more strays have joined the pack that barks all night. Things have changed.

Inside the house, it is 1980. The furniture has been upholstered. The clashing patterns challenge my inner sense of balance. The walls are lavender – my favorite color. What also hasn’t changed is my bed — the bed I slept in as a teenager, before getting a chance to occupy half of a storage area on our home’s mezzanine floor. Old clothes, steel trunks, an HMV record player, and a lot of books and a bed on the floor. You couldn’t stand there – the celling was only 5 feet high. It was okay spot to read and study and just be alone. I liked being alone – it was the biggest luxury of my life. It still is!

At night, I would mostly sleep in the bed in the living room. It is a hard wood bed – it is called a divan in local vernacular – with a thin cotton mattress, a thick bed sheet and a quilt that is heavy. The pillows are still a little lumpy. There is a big round one to just lounge against. The bed, the house and the way my parents engage with me is a good way for me to reset, recalibrate and recontextulize my life.

I don’t like to dwell in the past – unless of course it is music, movies and sometimes lost loves – and future is always brighter and more exciting, present just more real. Nevertheless a visit to my parents house is a chance to remember how far I have come and for once not worry about where I have to go. It is pretty easy to get a skewed perspective on life, success and failures by the expectations and achievements of an A-type society that is Silicon Valley.

Like many others, in this cesspool of ambition and billions, I have sometimes ended up calibrating self worth with some false metrics. Going back in time is a chance to measure what really matters – life spent doing things that matter. Regardless, since coming back, I have felt more at ease, reminded that in the end success is about living up to your expectations and not what others define as success.

April 24, 2016, Houston, Texas

Lunch

It has been one of those days – I did two meeting before 10 am and since then have been heads down, answering emails and reviewing board decks and preparing for a slew of board meetings. I normally get into the zone, I tend to work from home — thank you WebPass for that awesome … Continue reading Lunch