The Drought of Capital

Entrepreneurs are farmers of ideas.Farmers who are living in a perpetual drought.No matter how well we teach entrepreneurship, the drought creates year after year of failed crops. The fix has little to do with more and better incubators, accelerators, and startups labs. This drought is the lack of capital to support the existing startups. Just as we can’t solve a regional drought by...

Sharing Equity with Employees

There are a few aspects of venture capital whose origins are lost to history. One of these is the 20% stock option pool. Or more simply, the idea that everyone in the startup should own (at least a small amount of) the equity. Does this idea date all the way back to Rock and Davis, or did it come later? Why 20%? Why not 10% or 33% or 50%? Was this idea ever debated, or did one VC decades ago tout...

Yellow Flags, Yes vs. No

A few times per year I attend conferences full of fellow fund managers, managers of family offices, and big impact investors. The rest of the year I share investment opportunities multiple times per week with other investors. From all these conversations, I’ve come to realize the power and benefits of running a business accelerator rather than a traditional venture capital fund. From 10,000...

Too Big to Succeed

Blogging is just one more example of the key lesson I teach entrepreneurs, that it takes multiple iterations to find something that works. That is true not only for products, but also for sales, marketing, and messaging. The words I’ve failed to find in the story of WeWork and its lead investor Softbank I found buried in a CNBC article: Too big to succeed The problem with Softbank’s Vision Fund...

The Tokyo-Riyhad Capital Bubble Bursts

When the WeWork IPO was still a possibility, the Tokyo-Ridyhad Capitalism paradigm seemed outrageous but not impossible. Two weeks later, the bubble has burst but the unwinding seems to be just as outrageous. According to TechCrunch, for all the harm and fraud Adam has caused his employees, landlords, and investors, SoftBank is rewarding him with $1 billion buy out plus a $500 million loan to pay...

Investor Connect (podcast)

I’m on the other side of the microphone on the Impact Connect podcast, being interviewed about my unusual style of startup investing.

In this episode, you’ll get my unique perspective on questioning everything. Originally posted on

The Softbank Vision Fund vs. Reality

The venture capitalists following the traditional model of California Capitalism have a thesis that there are billion dollar business opportunities, there are business models able to capture those opportunities, and teams which can create those businesses if sufficiently funded. Softbank’s Vision Fund takes that model to a new level. A Tokyo-Riyadh Capitalism model. But a model that seems...

A quick explainer on Impact Investing

What is impact investing?  It’s a question that gets asked a lot, even in the crowd that calls itself impact investors.  I explained the general idea on-stage at The Nature-Accelerator in just three and a half minutes:

Revenue – Expenses = Profit

At a recent Seattle Impact Investing Group meeting, Leslie Christian was a guest speaker, sharing some of her wisdom on mixing impact with investing.  Her wisdom is wide and deep, but one idea especially popped out: the paradigm of shareholder value, especially in regard to investors, risk, and return. Specifically, what we’re taught in Finance is the following equation: Revenues...

Somebody’s Gotta Get Rich [SSIR]

Kevin Starr of the Mulago Foundation wrote a nice explanation of the need for and sweet spot of impact investing, Somebody’s Gotta Get Rich. Impact at problem-solving levels of scale doesn’t come from one-off businesses. “Levels of scale” as in making a noticeable difference in the world, rather than simply telling a good story imagining a world different from how it is today. Kevin...


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