Fireside Chat With Kevin Rose of Google Ventures | Summary and Q&A

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September 21, 2012
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Fireside Chat With Kevin Rose of Google Ventures

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Summary

In this video, Kevin Rose, a venture capital partner at Google Ventures, discusses his transition from being a TV host and founder of various companies to becoming a full-time investor. He also addresses the recent controversy surrounding Google Ventures' valuations of Y Combinator startups.

Questions & Answers

Q: Do people still remember you for your work on Tech TV and G4?

Yes, I still occasionally meet people, especially at airports, who loved "The Screen Savers" and remember that period of my life.

Q: How has your experience as a full-time VC been so far?

Transitioning from part-time angel investing to full-time venture capital has been a big change. I now see about 10-15 companies a week, which is exciting for my personality. I enjoy exploring new ideas and industries.

Q: Is it challenging to keep track of all the companies you are talking to?

Absolutely, especially since I am not great at remembering names. I have to use different apps and tools to keep everything organized and ensure I don't mix up the companies I am talking to.

Q: What is the reaction within Google Ventures to Paul Graham's criticism about lowballing valuations?

We are not intentionally trying to lowball companies. Valuations vary based on the risk and potential of each company. We have a $200 million fund each year, so we are not focused on trying to save money on small investments.

Q: Are the due diligence and paperwork processes stricter at Google Ventures compared to other venture capital firms?

We have worked on streamlining the due diligence process for smaller seed-style deals. Initially, the process was longer, but we have made improvements and now have a similar level of due diligence as other firms. This varies depending on the size of the investment.

Q: Have you personally heard from Paul Graham after his memo controversy?

No, I haven't heard anything from him. I have no negative feelings towards Y Combinator; they have produced great companies, and I am investing in several of them.

Q: Can you share some of the investments you've made recently?

I recently invested in Rally and Buffer Box. Rally is a startup focused on creating kiosks in different locations for package pickups. Buffer Box aims to solve the problem of failed package deliveries by providing secure pickup locations in stores like Walmart.

Q: Do you have a preferred niche or style of company you like to invest in?

I am attracted to disruptive companies with big bold ideas. I am not interested in modified versions of existing concepts. I am selective about my investments and focus on adding value to the companies I invest in.

Q: What has been your best investment in terms of return so far?

I have had several successful investments, such as ngmoco and OMGPOP, which had significant exits. However, there are still some companies in my portfolio that have not exited yet, like Twitter and Fab, which could also provide excellent returns.

Q: How do you approach your relationship with the media and handle criticism?

I have learned to develop a thick skin when it comes to the media. During my time at Digg, the media realized that both positive and negative articles about Digg would bring traffic, so I had to learn to deal with the constant scrutiny. I am friends with the press, but there have been articles that are unfair or inaccurate, like the recent Business Insider article.

Q: Who are some of your favorite people to interview in your Foundation video series?

I really enjoyed my interview with Jack Dorsey. His perspective on starting Twitter and his understanding of information movement fascinated me. I also think highly of Philip Rosedale, the creator of Second Life, and his current startup Coffee and Power.

Q: Have you ever received any bad advice?

One piece of bad advice I have heard is for young entrepreneurs to give away control of their companies too early and to let someone else be the CEO. It is important to be cautious when deciding to give up control, as it can significantly impact the direction of your business.

Q: Do you think you will start a new company in the future or focus solely on venture capital?

Being an entrepreneur never truly leaves you. I still have ideas and write them down, but I am currently committed to Google Ventures and enjoy the opportunity to help startups. However, who knows what the future holds in 10 years.

Takeaways

Kevin Rose discusses his transition to full-time venture capital and addresses the controversies surrounding Google Ventures' valuations. He emphasizes the importance of focusing on disruptive ideas and providing value to the companies he invests in. He also shares some of his favorite interviews from his Foundation video series and talks about the influence of the media on his career. In terms of his personal investments, he has had successful exits and believes in being cautious about giving away control of a company too early. Overall, he is committed to Google Ventures but still has the entrepreneurial itch and sees potential in the enterprise space and health and education startups.

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