Starting off the week with a recap of XOXO, a continuation of the conversation around Portland investors, Seattle VC Bill Bryant, Workfrom releases a mobile client, Automattic’s successful distributed team, and the economics of venture capital.
If you’ve never attended XOXO yourself, that might seem like no big deal. If you have — and I covered it for the past three years — it’s like learning that Christmas will be taking the year off. I always felt a little guilty coming to write about XOXO, knowing how many people tried and failed to win the annual lottery for tickets. The festival contributed so many good ideas to the world of internet culture — online and off — that its disappearance, however temporary, stings.
Let’s not to think of the ecosystem as broken. Just incomplete with a really great foundation and promising potential. Which means we can focus on growing instead of fixing. Here’s my thoughts on how we help each other get to the next level…
Bryant is the only Seattle-based VC at a major Silicon Valley firm, a feat he says works only because he built a relationship with the DFJ team for several years before joining the company. Seattle used to be home to outposts of venture funds from other regions, but all pulled back after realizing, Bryant surmises, that it’s hard to keep an investing culture and mission that’s consistent when the partners aren’t in the same place most days.
Up until now, thousands of users have accessed Workfrom through the company’s website on desktop or mobile. With Android and iOS apps, users will be able to find the company’s service and interact with it exclusively through smartphones.
With a staff of 450 spread over 45 countries, Automattic is often regarded as one of the largest and most successful examples of a fully distributed workforce. “I used to be very conflicted,” says CEO Matt Mullenweg. “All I hear from my friends in San Francisco is how hard it is to hire. Should I not tell them this secret? I decided it’s a great idea and everyone should do it. I’ll keep shouting from the rooftop because everyone should do it.”
I wrote a post last week about the challenges in valuing portfolio companies in venture capital that I thought was wonky and inside baseball. But when I got lots of follow-up questions from people, I realized that the basic mechanics of how the VC industry works remains opaque — including even to entrepreneurs who interact with the industry on a daily basis. So this post is an attempt to clear some of that opacity, by defining some basic terms (bolded below), beginning with a bit of history…