Dave McClure

Geeks. Founders. Startups. The Internet Revolution.

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Fear of Flying.

Failure isn’t the worst thing to happen to you in Silicon Valley.


In fact, failure is a rather warm, safe blanket for most folks around these parts. Unlike most places in the world where public failure could ruin your career, destroy a family, or even bring risk of death from shame… in Silicon Valley, everyone is all too comfortable openly discussing their failure(s). While this is generally a good thing – most people won’t learn how to stretch themselves unless they push the boundaries of potential failure – a far greater fear for many entrepreneurs is that of unsustainable success.

Far worse than hitting the ground, most of us are scared shitless of flying high, staying aloft, and keeping arms extended as we climb into a big blue sky, reaching for ever higher heights… Icarus, beware.

Indeed, fear of flying is the most frightening thing ever for truly great entrepreneurs. Usually...

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Why Menus Suck + Other Deep Thoughts on the Food Tech Revolution.

abstract: menus suck. we need less items, more pictures, and [just] a few recommendations. menus should be online, so they can integrate user data & purchase history to customize selection, offer discounts, and to connect with friends for favorites and referrals / group offers. the market is huge, purchase behavior is frequent, industry incumbents are old, slow, and easily disrupted. everyone eats, everyone is online; what the hell we waiting for?

Menus Suck.

disclosure: 500 Startups is an investor in E la Carte, and other food-tech startups like Blissmo, Chewse, ClubW, CraftCoffee, CucumberTown, CultureKitchen, DailyGobble, EcoMom, Farmeron, FoodA, FoodSpotting, KitchIt, GoSpotCheck, LoveWithFood, MileHighOrganics, NetPlenish, Ordr.in, ShopTouch, TeaLet, Ven.io, WholeShare. (yeah, we like food ;)

i’ve been thinking about writing some BS “predictions for 2013” post for the past few weeks,...

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What Hasn’t Changed: The Internet Keeps Getting Bigger.

Recent articles by the WSJ, Fred Wilson, & others are noting a shift in investor interest to enterprise and away from consumer. If true, this is a huge error… at least for entrepreneurs, angels, and smaller funds. There is no better time than the present to build cheap & scalable software-based businesses that make money. And while there is lots of new potential for using consumer marketing techniques in the enterprise, let’s not be too hasty in digging an early grave for the Interwebs, shall we?

Having been in the valley for over twenty years, and an investor in startups for almost ten, I’ve seen at least 2 investor cycles of switching back & forth from consumer to enterprise. While i agree with Fred it’s helpful to know what themes downstream investors are funding, IMHO most VCs switching from consumer to enterprise are clueless about why they’re doing so. For the few...

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Screw the Black Swans: Ichiro is our role model, not Barry Bonds.

There are probably better things for me to do today, however i feel compelled to respond to the Black Swan Farming post by Paul Graham, founding partner of Y Combinator.

Maybe you can call this post “Grooming for Ugly Ducklings”.

While i respect YC & PG immensely – note that 500 Startups has invested in over 40+ YC startups, and we have generously borrowed (COUGH) many excellent & original ideas that YC developed – at the same time, it’s useful to grok the similarities vs. differences between 500 & YC.

Put bluntly: we are both ambitious and we both play baseball, but YC is quite clearly the Yankees, while 500 is more like the Oakland A’s. Though i don’t profess to be Billy Beane (or Jerry Maguire), 500 is ideologically more focused on being an organization that teaches great hitting & fielding, rather than one that aims to find the best hitters & help them...

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VC Evolution: Physician, Scale Thyself.

TL:DR: This post aims to recap significant changes in the venture capital industry over the past ten years, and then make some [biased] predictions as to major forces at play in the next five years. In particular, I hope to highlight some less obvious [r]evolutionary shifts that people outside the industry may overlook. This is a long piece, so if you’re not a fan of inside baseball, skip it.

Vitruvian Man, Leonardo Da Vinci

Big Funds, Big Brands, Big Data.

While institutional LPs know big changes are happening, most focus too much on 1) increasing/decreasing fund size or 2) marketing + branding as the major trends. Both are notable, but the more significant evolutions going on are: 1) a shift towards operators vs financiers as fund managers, along with growth of non-investment staff, 2) use of technology and scalability in how investments are made via tools, data, teams, and process, and 3) the emergence of branded...

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Pink is the New Purple!

Dear Marissa: Think Different.

The New Yahoo: Think Pink.

I’d like to write a different Open Letter to Marissa Mayer, that plays to both her strengths, as well as those of Yahoo. It’s a bit off the wall, but if you think it thru with me, I bet you’ll agree with the strategy.

Yahoo has struggled for the last 6-7 years – with what it stands for, who’s running the show, how to keep its employees, how to compete with Google, and how to take advantage of its amazing assets in content, communications, and community around the world. The last really bold move Yahoo made was probably acquiring Flickr (aside from turning down the Microsoft acquisition offer, or the previous hire of Carol Bartz). Yet by tapping Marissa Mayer as the new CEO, there is still a way for the company to remain relevant, and even perhaps regain some of its former glory.

The answer is simple: Focus on WOMEN.

I’m sure you think I’m being both...

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Niche 2 Win, Baby.

Most startups think they have to be AWESOME to succeed.

1 of These Things != The Other. 1 of These Things != The Other.

Actually, this is quite far from the truth – in fact, you can be incredibly mediocre and still be quite successful. (sounds inspirational, i know, but stick with me for a minute.)

The secret is to find your Niche – that is, the initial customer segmentation / product differentiation combo that enables you to beat your more established, mature competition with a much crappier product.

This strategy is called “Niche to Win”.

Most VCs (especially those with limited operational marketing experience, or in a few cases, those with too much good fortune with big wins) have no understanding of this. They commonly and foolishly advise founders: a) “You’re thinking way too small”, or b) “Your market isn’t big enough for us”, or (sorry Vinod i know you mean well but i don’t agree) c) “We only fund Ambitious...

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late bloomer, not a loser. (I hope)

most of the time I think of myself as a failure.

when I’m optimistic, I think maybe I’m just a late bloomer.

I know a lot of folks won’t understand this perspective, but when I was growing up I was always the smartest kid around. it was expected that I would do great things, by my mom, by my teachers, and most importantly, by me. I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or bad thing, but high expectations were always around me, and for the first 10-15 years, the results would seem to indicate that was a likely thing.

but after lots of good grades and academic achievement (I skipped 8th grade and another in high school), that kind of stopped happening. I went to college early, and found out that performing well wasn’t always based on being smart. hard work and regular, consistent effort was also required… and I wasn’t really very good at those things. I also had a lot of trouble in...

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Hello World.

after a long blogging hiatus, i hope to get back to more regular writing.

one thing different here: there won’t be as much of my former crazy red bold fonts, and I’m trying to ease off the profanity and ranting (altho there will probably still be a good bit of that). perhaps I’m getting conservative in my old age, or maybe I just feel less need to grab headlines these days. that’s probably bullshit (whoops!), but in any case it’s still the same old me.

if you want to read some of my old stuff, it’s still here, and some of my better posts are here. you can also find lots of my crazy presentations here.

most of my time these days is spent running 500 Startups, and I might occasionally write on our 500 blog as well.

as always these are my own thoughts, and don’t necessarily reflect my efforts at 500 Startups. likely unprofessional but still geeky nonetheless.

see you around.

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