The Full Ratchet (TFR): Venture Capital and Startup Investing Demystified

Mark Suster of Upfront Ventures joins Nick on a Pre-Crisis chat to discuss Building a VC Franchise; The Shift to Bite-Sized Video Content; Last-Mile Attribution; & the Impact of Corona Virus Over The Next 6-12 Months. In this episode, we cover:

  • Last time we had you on the show was December 2016. Any notable updates or changes at Upfront since then?
  • Just chatting w/ Minnie Ingersoll and she was saying how great the Upfront Summit was and how I need to attend next year... what were the highlights for you this year?
  • Content companies are beginning to optimize for quick 1-5 minute gaps everyone has in their day, on their commute, between meetings, etc. where really short form content can be consumed beginning to end.  You had a chat w/ Meg Whitman, CEO of Quibi at the Summit... and I'm going to read a quote from your blog post about that interview "her analogy of content like “The Da Vinci Code” which had 464 pages and 105 bite-sized, fully realized chapters. In essence, you’re not intimidated by the size of each episode so you dig in and might just read 8 chapters in a sitting before realizing you read 35 pages. And so it is with video."  Clearly Quibi is trying to capitalize on this short form video content w/ A-List celebrities and over $1.75B in venture funding...  Mark, do you believe this is significant emerging trend or is it overhyped and overfunded?
  • Quibi successfully sold out of $150m in first-year ad inventory even before they launched, which says a lot about the current marketing landscape. Channels like Google and Facebook are becoming saturated, and marketers are desperate to find that new channel that will give them an advantage... thoughts here on the macro digital marketing landscape?
  • Seen any great companies doing last-mile attribution? - Whether it be the corona virus, the election and/or a potential market correction... what do you think the next 6-12 months will hold and what effect will that have on early stage startups, funds and IPOs.
  • What's the biggest mistake LPs or the VCs that are guiding them, make when co-investing?
  • Who haven't you gotten yet as a featured guest at the Summit that you'd like to get in the future?
  • Since we last spoke, you’ve inserted an “Inclusion Clause” into your term sheets at the firm. Why'd you do it? 
  • Talk a bit about investing...  You wrote a blog post about key lessons since the first VC check you ever wrote.  Can you highlight the most critical things you've learned. - Assessing the intangibles are so important when evaluating an early stage founder ie. grit, personality, drive etc. Are there specifics methods you apply to assess for these intangibles?
  • Are there any traits or characteristics that you think are being over-indexed on by some investors?
  • Jason Calacanis was on recently and mentioned that you work harder for your startups than anyone else... what is your playbook for helping startups and what determines your level of involvement?
  • In early 2019, you wrote a post about why seed investing has declined. You ended the post saying "Seed investing is here to stay (although the firms may change — with some seed funds becoming A investors).” What are the biggest shifts you see happening in early stage VC?
  • It looks as though you took a 4 month "forced hiatus" from the blog.  What was the motivation for the break?

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