Why VCs Are Always ‘Very Excited’ About Your Progress But That Doesn’t Mean Anything Until They Make an Offer

My job as an early stage investor includes translation services, specifically helping startup founders take what they are hearing from potential investors and providing a read on whether that VC is actually ready to make an offer. Quite often a CEO will share all sorts of positive comments and praise they heard from an investor, and I’ll remind them these statements aren’t termsheets. Simply put, only a termsheet is a termsheet.

This reminder tweet set off a few good discussion threads that I wanted to capture and expand upon here.

Even experienced founders get ‘happy ears,’ not just first time founders


Things to Remember As You and Your Friends Get Wealthy

“Giraffe money.” That’s the phrase which stuck with me from Erin Griffith’s NYTimes article this spring about the latest set of wealth creating events in the tech community. To quote,

For Palantir, a data analytics company that went public in September, Feb. 18 was “giraffe money” day. That was the first day that current and former employees could cash out all of their shares after the company went public.

In a Slack channel for former employees called Giraffe Money — an apparent reference to wealth that can support casual giraffe ownership — many anticipated their windfalls by sharing links, mostly…


I Made These Mistakes A Few Times But You Don’t Need To

Part of successful angel investing is picking winners. Another part is avoiding picking losers. Before we founded Homebrew I made ~20 or so investments in startups using my own savings. I wasn’t necessarily trying to do anything impressive, just taking some risk capital and putting it towards people and products that struck me as compelling. All in all it worked out fine, driven primary by some fortunate acquisitions to companies like Microsoft, Pinterest and Facebook, the latter two in pre-IPO equity which grew substantially prior to their public listings. I never really tracked IRR or net returns, but I did…


What I Learned From Working On Conan’s Season #2 and My Own Fears

Actor John Lithgow playfully tossed a show at me, boxer Larry Holmes jokingly (I think) threatened to knock me out and actress Jennifer Tilly might have flirted with me over the phone until she realized I was just an intern and not a Segment Producer. Memories like those, plus a dressing room sign with my name on it, were what I took away from interning on Season Two of Late Night with Conan O’Brien while in college. And looking back, I never should have left the show.

Conan bid farewell to late night TV this week after an amazing 28…


Why Ken Norton’s Dual Product Management Career Path Can Also Encourage Innovation At Scale

Rising to your level of misery” is how Arthur Brooks frames the trap of being good enough at your job that you continue to climb a corporate ladder until arriving at a rung which leaves you in a role that makes you miserable. And oh my does this concept speak to my own experiences as a BigCo product lead. …


It’s weird to try and help fund people who are going to compete with me, right? Well, I couldn’t be more excited to do just this.

The 10 initial Screendoor Venture Advisors

Ok, the headline is announcing Screendoor, a $50m+ collaboration of some like-minded early stage investors to back new VCs from underrepresented groups (basically people who don’t look like me). Alex Konrad/Forbes covered the announcement and has some good details, plus our own blogpost. This initiative matters a lot to me because we’ve purposefully designed our fund (Homebrew) to not grow in partnership size and not be multigenerational. So in some ways, alongside the companies we’ve backed directly, Screendoor represents the best way for our values to live on beyond our firm. …


Why I Initially Misunderstood Snowflake CEO Frank Slootman’s Comments But Still Find Them Disappointing

Update: Frank Slootman released a new statement on Monday 6/7. Added what I mentioned below was unfortunately not said in his earlier interview.

“The truth is that all individuals are not treated equally. No serious person can believe otherwise. All individuals don’t have the same opportunities, be it in the workplace or in society as a whole. This has long been the case, and it remains the case today. Sadly, racism, discrimination and prejudice are still common in our society. …


Why my advice from 2014 is even more true now

Ahh, spring! When new grads leave their campuses and enter the workplace for the first time. Or I guess, leave their online zoom classrooms and enter their work zooms. Gulp!

Photo by MD Duran on Unsplash

So I wanted to revisit some advice that I give new grads about where in tech to start their career and I’ll make the case that the absolute best place to be is a high quality midstage startup. You can read why in the post below but revisiting this 2014 explanation also helps counter one of the objections I’ve heard regarding this advice. Namely that it’s really difficult to know…


Teaching my daughter that ‘adventure boo-boos’ are part of life

I come from a family of flinchers. Well-intentioned of course but with an instinctual urge to ask “is that safe?” before proceeding. Perhaps Darwin favors this trait in humans and long ago the majority of my look-before-you-leap ancestors did not fair so well.

But when we had our daughter, I wanted to find a new intermediate point between seeking absolute safety and Wile E. Coyote. Some parenting guides suggest that asking “are you ok?” when a child falls down actually encourages them to feel *not* ok because it increases the alarm or reinforces they’ll get pleasurable soothing if they…

Hunter Walk

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

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