Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Economy Beat And My First Interview

I made it to the Economy Beat talk today put on by Venture Beat and a few others. I'm glad I went for a few reasons. First of all, it was good to see some optimism in the valley since Sequoia's apocalyptic talk which got all the news last week.

The highlights:

John Doerr. This guy is a genius. If you haven't seen him speak or listened to any of his words of wisdom, look into it. At the end of the VC panel, he outlined 10 things an entrepreneur/CEO can do during this downturn (see list here).

Ron Conway. Another really bright investor. His words of wisdom for the current economy - renegotiate everything. Even your rent.

While the VC's were optimistic and claimed they still are investing in things - the seasoned entrepreneurs added some reality to the matter. They claimed that the VC's aren't investing like they used to. That they're only investing in their companies that show progress. VC's will always tell you what paints them in a good light. Take it with a grain of salt.

What I really liked about the entrepreneur panel, was seeing Max Levchin speak. Now if Doerr is a genius from VC, Max is an entrepreneurial genius. I didn't know much about him before this, besides that he co-founded PayPal and founded Slide. But he was engaging and incredibly inspiring. He moved to the US when he was 16, from Russia, to start companies. That in itself is pretty amazing.

Some words of wisdom from Max:
1) Hire employees that think challenges are interesting
2) Don't listen to anybody - be a contrarian
3) Be quiet publicly
4) It sucks to be the only founder

Words from Nirav Tolia (
1) Running a lean company should be a mindset

Jason Calacanis (Mahalo)
1) Focus on product

Some additional words of wisdom that I can't attribute to anyone, because honestly, I can't remember who said it. Prepare yourself for refreshing your employee IQ. Basically, hire and pay people who bring high intellect to your company. Do what you can to make sure your star employees are happy and contributing. You'll have to constantly work to make sure this happens.

The biggest highlight though, was my first interview. Fast forward to the end of that video embedded above....and enjoy. Yea, it's not perfect, but cut me some slack, it was my first time on camera.

While I spoke a while back about doing less and spending more time on product, these high value talks have proven they're worth their weight in gold.


Geoff said...

Nice to see you've still got that permanent five o'clock shadow!

Anonymous said...

You look fantastic! Can I paraphrase your quote as "ditto"?

Unknown said...

Hey Marc. I was watching the CNET videos and I saw this person who looked familiar. Nice to see you are doing well and falling out of the Gap is a good thing. I did a little hunting around and found your blog.

Lefty said...

@geoff and johnny - thanks fellas!

Lefty said...

@paul - It was definitely a good thing to fall out of the Gap! Are you still there? I'm a bit bearish on their future.

Unknown said...

yes I am still here. I am in a great team now with lots of opportunity for me and until I get the kids though college it is not a bad place for where I am wright now. I agree there is cause for concern but unless you are with walmart retail is not a good business. If you belive our mgmt we are in a stong place financially and should come out on the other side. At least I hope so.

Lefty said...

@Paul - Glad to hear things are going well with you. I am down at the Gap once in a while, visiting my old team, I'll have to stop by and see you next time.

And yes, retail is a mess and only getting worse. I've been hearing about the expectations for the holiday season, and they aren't promising.

I'm not sure about the current management in place. I just know that when I was there, the management was ineffective - from top to bottom. Hopefully things are looking up from inside. I haven't even been in a BR or Gap in at least a year, which isn't a good thing. Those used to be my staple stores.