in Early Stage Startups

Opportunity Knocks

There’s a guy I know.  I’ve known him since the beginning of all this.  We met at the WeWork.  WeWork Labs to be precise.  I was working on my thing, he was always working on something.  He is a developer.  I know he sold a company once to a high profile NYC startup but not the kind of deal where you read about it in TechCrunch.

He’s a funny dude who is clearly talented, good natured, but sometimes others found him abrasive.  I was a clueless former Wall Street guy thinking he was about to change the world by bootstrapping an outsourced app.  I and him and a handful of guys and gals were always on that floor together day and night, at the second WeWork location, original WeWork Labs members.  When it was a community that outsiders sometimes misunderstood to be a collective where its members had to contribute a mandatory number of hours doing tech for other’s projects.  When Trista knew everyone and held it together.  That seems like a very long time ago.

One day, after one of the very largest tech acquisitions of all time hit the news, he put something up in the Labs facebook group’s wall.   He posted a screen shot of an 1.5 year old email that shows the founder of the acquired company (who sent to 2 guesses in the same email to find his right address) asking this guy to come out to the West Coast and build something special.  He had never even replied.  He has a good sense of humor about it, and I respect his ability to share, laugh and be courageous about it.

Who knows what would have really happened if he had answered.  I remember cobbling together that if it had worked out he’d have made $150mln or so.  There were lots of replies to the post, many sympathetic.  I imagine some people had some serious schadenfreude, too.  I simply posted one word. “Fuck”.  His story something I’ll simply never forget.

I like to think that most evolved humans don’t believe that money is the key to happiness.  I also know from my early finance career that wealth and happiness (or how you treat other people) has little correlation. It turns out that in Tech, where we change the world and make it suck less, it’s the same shit.  I wish my friend the very best and sounds like he just raised some very decent money for his new-new thing.  But of course, recently funded entrepreneurs are usually just as messed up as everyone beating the shit out of themselves to get funding.  As is usually the case, I think Seth Godin says it best.

There’s always that moment that I pause before archive emails, incoming Linkedin requests, the random Angel list message.  Not because I’m some self-identified angel or advisor.  It just feels good to be in the mix, and it’s difficult for someone who still feels like an imposter regardless of whatever connections or accomplishments I actually have to say no and possibly miss out on something huge.   It’s never personal. And even in the most extreme case that most people I know are aware of- life goes on after missing something epic.  We continue to do the work and keep steady ahead.