A Sleigh Full of Angels; another day in the life of ThruDispatch

I was soooo nervous; Mr. East Coast Analyst turned entrepreneurial adventurer mooching around the city of San Francisco, riding up to this fine loft South of Market to pitch to…..who were these guys again? Yes, yes, a group of accredited investors – angels. These gents agreed to see me, and here I was riding their private elevator.

Woosh. There I am right in the suite, the home of Daniel Xavier Thornton (not his real name), a fabulously wealthy retired gent who made his fortune in the heyday of HP, Intel, Xerox. He worked for them all as an engineer, executive, advisor, and board member. For over 20 years, he and his close cohort have been placing seed funding east and west. These fine gents were notable for sometimes placing bets on good ideas from team-less subject matter experts; they are not impressed with voluminous business plans, they invest on the gut. Sometimes (often) they help build the teams and go hands on with operations. Sharp, mature, modest,  wise angels.

Whenever they addressed me they always used my first name in an almost formal manner, “Alan, we hate most of these Web 2.0 guys, we want to get back to investing in real inventions”. “Alan, can you tell us more about your background as an electronics technician?” “Alan, please don’t tell people who we are, you can do that blog thing, but change our names and location”.

Sure guys. Continue reading

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A Fairy Tale of Mountain View

It was a silent 4:00PM in Mountain View, CA, the artificial city of the Silicon Peninsula. I ended my funding pitch with a quote from Jonathan Swift. I had no idea it would be so poorly received:
“When a true genius enters the world, you may know him by this sign: the Dunces are all aligned in confederacy against him.”

So I quoted with a smile at the VC meeting where my baby, ThruDispatch, was pitched.

One of the Senior Partners hurled a stentorian barb in my direction.”You are calling yourself a genius and we are the Dunces? ”

“Not at all. I am merely saying that many valley equity investors seem to be throwing capital at just so many duplicate social media and video sharing plans”, I said, almost ready to mace these suits if it wasn’t for the consequences. Don’t they see the mess in cloned business models ruining this wonderful valley?

One of the Juniors looked at me with withering scorn and vomited his invective in my general direction, “Everyone in this room makes seven figures, we are placing the next sub-round in Facebook Apps…good day Mr. Wilensky and, good luck with your….plan”.

As I left, I passed a famous ‘Silicon Valley undertaker’, a reaper of VC capital, walking confidently into the conference room. He had a track record of raising capital and burning down (so to speak) any number of here and gone startups, few of which ever became profitable. Indeed, he seemed more notorious for NOT making equity pay. What was his secret?

“How do you do it?”. I hissed, “how, how?” He barely glanced backwards at me as his Patek Philipe Minute Repeating watch chimed a quarter past the hour.

“I hire friends, I am hired by friends, I make sure that the first order of business when receiving a placement of equity is to find a way to compensate the VC partners”, he said, his suit was impeccable.

Hmm, leather sandals with a suit in such Bay Area cold.

Clammy and faint, I staggered towards the elevator – Ping….Bing…bong..softer as the conference room door clicked closed….fainter voices from behind…”hey guys…good to see you again….(Ping!)

It was 4:30PM in Mountainview.

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