You’ve heard the expression “All sizzle, no steak?” Or the Texan equivalent of “All hat, no cattle?” [sidenote: it’s weird that cows feature prominently in both of these]. Basically these sayings are referring to people who talk a big game but then can’t back it up with action. Sparkly but no quality behind it.

While it’s readily agreed among investors that these types of leaders eventually get seen for what they are over the long haul (although distressingly they usually get funded initially), what I wanted to discuss today is whether a founding team that’s the complete opposite (a TON of steak, very little sizzle) can also be problematic when it comes to building a successful company. This topic matters to me not just intellectually but because it’s a combination I find full of potential and often want to support. …


It’s preventing you from becoming truly effective

Person checking off their to-do list.
Person checking off their to-do list.
Photo: Glenn Carstens-Peters/Unsplash

After managing large teams across Google for many years, and now, as an investor, having the chance to observe dozens of highly effective startups, I’ve seen there is one major difference between people who are “just” productive and those who are truly effective: knowing how to prioritize.

My own relationship with prioritization is a perpetual work-in-progress. I still fall back into a habit I’ve long tried to break: working on the stuff that seems easiest to complete, or the tasks that give me the most satisfaction or accolades, or simply the latest item that came in, rather than what I actually most need to work on. …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Ibrahim Rifath on Unsplash

A number of reporters and columnists these days are “going indie,” detaching from their previous employer and signing up with a site like Substack, Patreon or Medium to get paid for their writing by their readers. The motivations are usually blends of seeking freedom (to write at their own cadence and on whatever they want to cover) and the accelerating austerity at media companies from ad supported business models collapsing. …


Image for post
Image for post

The above tweet seemed to resonate with folks, and sometimes when that happens, I like to expand in a post, since the tweet will disappear in 30 days.

Ok, let’s talk about working in tech and feeling like your best years are perpetually behind you. It screws with your head! This was part of the reason I spent almost two decades metaphorically being chased by a failure tiger. No bueno for one’s health and wellness. Why does this feeling exist and what can we do to help ourselves and others navigate?

It exists because it’s true and part our popular mythology! Ahh you didn’t think I was going to start there did you? Seriously, any discussion of this topic should acknowledge that there’s an incorrect (and sometimes illegal when it plays a role in hiring) age bias in our industry. “Pattern recognition” of a what a founder looks like still gravitates towards, as one VC said (and I’m paraphrasing) “pasty young white males.” This is changing as we see women take their companies public and people start multibillion dollar companies in their — gasp- 40s. But to write a post confronting the “I’m too old” anxiety and not recognize all of this would be dishonest. …


Reporter Alex Kantrowitz had me on his Big Technology podcast and we covered a bunch of stuff about the social platforms, politics & tech and my days at YouTube. To subscribe to the podcast and hear the interview for yourself use Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Overcast.

I love when podcasts make transcripts available and you can read it below


tldr: instead of choosing between in-person or remote, your seed stage company (or team) should be more hybrid, tied to the type/phase of project going on. With in-person being used during periods of intense team ideation, collaboration or debate. While remote is best for execution sprints and concentrated individual problem solving.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash

2020 has turned out to be a really interesting test of what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real. The Real World. Uh, sorry, as a MTV generation kid, that reality show opening is hardwired into my brain. What I meant to say is 2020 has provided us a bunch of forced learnings around collaboration given that much of the tech world shifted from “mostly together in offices” to “mostly apart, at home, supported by software.” While we all agree that ‘apart’ is best right now for reasons of safety, the discussion around what a post-COVID world seems to be largely bifurcated into Office vs WFH/Distributed. More recently there’s some acknowledgment that maybe a hybrid will be the path back, where different people are in the office for 2–3 days/week to take into account social distancing and give people productive time away from the office sans commute. …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by John Gibbons on Unsplash

So I recently re-shared a 2019 blog post where I’d basically advised founders who’ve raised seed capital to worry less about “how will I raise the next round” and more about “how will I execute my plan?” The post’s kicker said it was “rare for a company that’s executing well to fail to raise a Series A” based on my early experiences in venture.

Some of the responses highlighted that this wasn’t true of companies with founders who didn’t fit the traditional male, usually white, usually straight, founder stereotype. That those founders had personally experienced challenges in what the “executing well” bar meant for them in the eyes of future funders, not to mention that getting funded to start with, and then executing well, was usually already from a disadvantaged position due to the structural issues in tech.


Something happens on Twitter after you’ve gathered enough followers to become at least a “semi-public figure” and I don’t think it’s healthy. Expanding outside your immediate social circle of IRL friends and into URL friends tends to include what I’d call “tribe followers” — an increase in the number of people who are expecting a certain type and tone of content in-line with whatever the tweet was that caused them to follow you. “Hate followers” usually come next, which are basically the same but opposite: accounts waiting for you to say something they can fight about, even if they have to misrepresent the meaning or context of your words. This interplay, plus the basic physics of the system (RTs, RTs w comments, Likes increase tweet reach), tend to implicitly and explicitly shape *what* you tweet and how emphatically you say it. And the followers are waiting to high-five or poke you in the eyes, depending on why they’re there. …


I asked a question on Twitter the other day

Image for post
Image for post

The responses were great! Here are some of my favorites

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

Image for post
Image for post

Looking at my 26-day-old Tweet, it feels certain I was going to write *something* about Coinbase’s culture memo. Now in late October, we’re far enough removed to see initial reactions have play out, and that’s left space to see what has remained tumbling in my head.

What’s the “Best” Version of What Coinbase is Attempting to Do?

I’ve observed a tendency to label corporate cultures “good” or “bad” based on whether the critiquing individual agrees with the company’s professed values or could imagine themselves working there. …

About

Hunter Walk

You’ll find me @homebrew , Seed Stage Venture Fund w @satyap . Previously made products at YouTube, Google & SecondLife. Married to @cbarlerin .

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store