The Future of Marketplaces

Li Jin and Andrew Chen of Andreessen Horowitz distill the history of marketplaces over the past 25 years and predict that companies like Bannerman, Convoy and Lambda will win over regulated markets. Read the full analysis in What’s Next for Marketplace Startups?.

From the Operators

Sadly, we did not come across any amazing operator posts this week. If you know founders that are blogging, let us know at

From the Investors

Hunter Walk of Homebrew took us down memory lane to our days working on Referly as he asked Where’s my Personal Wirecutter? I Want a Place To Talk About The Products I Love!. .

Morgan Housel of Collaborative Fund asserts “writing is the ultimate test of whether your thoughts make sense or are merely gut feelings” in Selfish Writing.

Michael Brown of Bowery Capital outlines several ways that trophy board members can go south in Being Cautious About Independent Board Members. Watch out for that “independent” board member your investor insists on.

Some CEOs spend downtime during the holidays wondering “am I even helping at my company or am I just making things worse?” Jason Lemkin of SaaStr gives them some comfort in Could Someone Be a Better CEO Than You?.

Seth Levine of Foundry Group continues his excellent series on board meetings, this time covering Board Conflict.

Ready to Make Your Dream of a Startup Exit Concrete… What’s Your Number?

This is our favorite time of the year to be reading blogs, because people do a lot of reflection over the holidays. If you see thoughtful posts from founders and investors, send them our way at

We’ve shared several stories about alternatives to traditional venture funding. This week Matt Wensing of Riskpulse shares his thoughts in The New Bootstrappers: How Alternative Fundng Modesl Are Embracing Founder Lifestyles. He hints at a new tool SimSaaS he’s using to compare alternative funding approaches for bootstrapped founders.

From the Operators

With lots of talk this week of whether to pivot or return the money, Jason Jacobs of Two Way Labs shares his personal journey deciding whether to shutdown his startup in Goodbye Two Way Labs, I barely knew ya.

Brian Donohue of Pinterest and Instapaper talks about everything from leading the team from paid to free and dealing with the ups and downs of M&A in Brian Donohue on Operating Instapaper Through an Acquisition.

Bertrand Fan of Slack didn’t believe his parents travel advice to fly on the day of Thanksgiving, and hacks together data from SFO’s Wifi records to figure out the best day to be Flying for Thanksgiving.

We’ve been rewatching Start Trek Next Generation together, and loving how relevant the writing is. Danielle sees Picard as a great potential CEO role model, and Kevin is fascinated by the explroation of AI with the character Data. So we were pleased to discover this week that Sarah A. Downey of Accomplice has started a blog series we’re intrigued by in Startup trek episode 1: Encounter at Farpoint.

From the Investors

Erik Torenberg of Village Global riffs on an earlier tweetstorm from September this week to talk about personal moats. The conversation that ensues with Tren Griffin of Microsoft (an excellent Twitter follow @trengriffin) and others is fascinating.

Semil Shah of Haystack tweets an epiphany as to why seed funds keep getting bigger (hint: more fees is not in the top 4 reasons) and kicks off an interesting conversation.

From the Writers

If you haven’t read Oakland-based author Eliot Peper yet, you’re missing out. He started writing about using technology to tamper with elections in “Bandwidth”. I was excited to discover this week he also has a blog and writes Most successful people have no idea what made them successful . Danielle love speculative fiction, and has read all his books. She is thrilled to see Amazon named his latest title “Borderless” among Best Books of the Month: Science Fiction & Fantasy. Go Eliot!

But What Happens in the Upside Case?

Usually, startups are dealing with solving an endless set of problems in what, even at the best of times, looks like a beautiful disaster… kind of like learning to do watercolor painting. But in the rare cases where the product finds the market, the funding comes through, and the team is off to the races–things don’t magically resolve. This week, we have a couple posts that reveal how challenging it can be to navigate the creation of new companies in the best of times. We would love to see more posts from investors and founders sharing the gritty details of operating from a place of strength.

The startup blogging pace is moving at an impressive clip as we head into the holidays and we were thrilled by the editorial process to get down to this set, each of which is incredible. Brew a pot of coffee and enjoy this week’s Buried Reads.

Now that we need scale, you’re not the right person

Steve Blank of Stanford University shares hard-won lessons from the experience of being hired over. Early startup employees should read How to Keep Your Job As Your Company Grows.

What happens when a founder is fully vested

Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures discusses one of the most emotionally charged issues to come between founders and their boards in What Happens When A Founder Is Fully Vested?.

From the Operators

Rahul Vohra of Superhuman tells the story of How Superhuman Built an Engine to Find Product/Market Fit and introduces several management techniques that other entrepreneurs can use to get fit themselves.

In The Signal Network Michael Lopp of Slack develops a framework for measuring conversations along the lines of criticality and freshness. It reminds me of Stephen Covey’s framework for measuing tasks not just by urgency but also importance. Covey’s approach has been incredibly useful, and it feels like Lopp is onto something just as important with communication.

Jeff Gothelf of Sense & Respond Press asks What does an agile product roadmap look like?. If you ever felt like your roadmap is trying to predict features you don’t even know will help, this could be a better way to communicate future deliverables.

Matt Angle of Paradromics is creating a Brain Computer Interface (BCI) product. I’ve been curious about where neurbiology meets computing for quite a while, and this was fascinating. Listen at LoupVentures Neurotech Podcast.

From the Investors

Joe Floyd, Jake Saper, Kara Sweeney, and Carlotta Siniscalco of Emergence Capital were all promoted this week, and the firm shares the awesome praise each received from their portfolio in The Next Generation of Emergence Capital.

Rob Go of NextView explains how the current funding environment has lead many investors to value IRR over ROI in Chasing Markups

Jared Sleeper of Matrix Partners points out that customer experience aren’t happening at a smooth rate for most startups in A framework for modeling product development.

Sammy Abdullah of Blossom Street Ventures shares stats that are usually closely held like revenue, valuation, and round size for 179 startups in The Series A Valuation Report.

Parul Singh of Founder Collective shares the harsh realities founders seeking institutional funding can expect in Mastering Growth Economics: What $100M Startups Do Differently.

From the Columnists

Ryan Avent of The Economist asks Why Do We Work So Hard?. When my friends say “put your work aways for a bit” I often have the voice in my head, “Okay, but I really like this!” Avent does a good job capturing some of what might behind this.

Products We Love

The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen This is a difficult read with significant payoffs to those who want to understand the disparity between those who are most respected in society and those who are most productive. Written nearly 100 years ago, Veblen explores the economic theory behind why our culture does not honor those who build the most, work the hardest, and prosper through trade nearly as highly as those who destroy (war heroes), work the least (nobility) and rule through fiat (royalty, emperors and dictators). As you read, ask yourself what has changed over the past 100 years and more importantly: what hasn’t? Readers familiar with the concept of “Veblen goods” introduced in this book will find the fact that it is just $0.60 to download for Amazon Kindle deeply ironic.

Last year, the California wildfires filled our 56th floor apartment in San Francisco with acrid smoke and we purchased our first Molekule Air Purifier. Since moving to Denver, we’ve added 2 more to battle the regular poor air quality. It’s a beautiful highly functional product. Use our link to get $75 off your order.

Product Advice From the Trenches

Danielle and I just got back from a trip to San Francisco, and it was good to see several of our friends there. I’m especially happy I got to eat at Plow twice. We’re excited to do a return trip after the holidays. In the meantime, we’re looking forward to snow here in Denver this weekend.

Product Advice From the Trenches

David Tuite of Workday started compiling a List of Companies with Public Roadmaps. If you’ve been thinking of opening up your roadmap to customers you can learn from companies like Trello, Buffer, and Twitch.

Sachin Rekhi of Notejoy outlines a framework that incorporates long term vision, customers and business objectives in How to Prioritize a Product Roadmap.

From the Operators

Dave Kellogg of Host Analytics gives a shoutout to Fenwich Wests’s Q3 Venture Capital Survey and does a good job highlighting numbers around key negotiating points like liquidation preference in Highlights from the Fenwick & West 3Q18 Venture Capital Survey.

Ceci Stallsmith of Slack draws the important distinction between confidence and arrogance in The Art of Making You Feel Small.

From the Investors

Matrix Partners compiled their 2018 SAAS Private Survey Results- Part 1 and it covers everything from average growth rates, to contract size, to upsell trends. It’s a great resource for founders in search of benchmarks.

Andrew Clark of Visible shares a best practices that gets your employee base on the same page as the founding team in The Friday Note Challenge.

Seth Levine of Foundry Group has put together an excellent on board meetings covering everything from meeting pre, to the board package, to running the meeting itself. See the full write up in Designing the Ideal Board Meeting Blog Series.

A few years ago Series A crunch was the big worry in startups. Now there is a new crunch, and its the journey of Going from a proof of concept fund to an “institutional” venture fund covered by Samir Kaji of First Republic Bank.

Christoph Janz of Point Nine Capital sees a pattern of founders diluting early investors in Founders: Please don’t allow anyone to screw your early backers.

Battery Ventures recently hosted a panel Getting from Seed to Series A: Insider Tips from Tech’s Top Early-Stage Funders with Forerunner, Felicis, and Battery. It’s useful right out of the gate with honest talk about where leading VCs have their bar for Series A.

Social Capital comes out firing

Kevin’s favorite post is a heart melting video from Brad Feld on young makers, but we had to lead this week with bluster coming out of Palo Alto…

Social Capital Comes out firing

Chamath Palihapitiya of Social Capital came out firing with optimism this week, despite a recent alarming report from Dan Primack of Axios. See Chamath’s full report in “Social Capital Interim Annual Letter, 2018”

From the Operators

Center for American Entrepreneurship of Center for American Entrepreneurship gives the best detailed break downs of financing round activity by volume, deal size and round that we’ve seen in recent history. Very useful reference for anyone raising right now. See the details in Early-Stage Valuation Multiples Are Coming Way Down. What Does it Mean?

Reboot of Reboot catalogs the ways that people are dishonest and blaming in Nonviolent communication and the concept of “denial of responsibility”

From the Investors

Blossom Street Ventures of Blossom Street Ventures has done an awesome series of posts analyzing S1 statements this week. Our favorites were on dillution and average time from founding to IPO.

Union Square Ventures of Union Square Ventures points out something we’ve believed for a while: healthcare and education are eating the economy faster than software is. Read the full story in Creating Surplus

Bloomberg Beta of Bloomberg Beta is on a tear this week with blogging. For first time investors, he wrote some advice on planning. And for founders, he writes Instead of a Business Plan, write a Thesis Plan

Foundry Group of Foundry Group shares a promo video that melted our nerd hearts for littleBits which encourages kids to take on engineering and coding in I Was That Kid. Were You? #MakingChangemakers

Lightspeed Venture Partners offers a great template for explaining the stock option component of an offer letter in Telling the Equity Story

Growing Alternatives to VC Funding

Makes sure to read all the way to the end this week, because we go out on a strong note with sage advice from Warren Buffet and Jeff Bezos. Brew a pot of tea and enjoy our favorite weeks from the past week.

In our favorite read this week, Clement Vouillon of Point Nine Capital captures emerging SaaS fundraising approaches: “A Landscape of the Growing Number of Alternatives to VC Funding”

From the Operators

Jackie Luo of Square believes fair compensation begins with transparency, and provides the numbers to back it up in “I Know the Salaries of Thousands of Tech Employees”

Michael FitzGerald of Submittable (YCS12 represent!) offers some startup real talk in “Submittable CEO talks startups, life, cancer and living in Missoula, Montana.”

From the Investors

The AngelList blog has a great post this week explaining how the preference stack of private company stock can impact exit outcomes for employees: “Liquidation Preference: Your Equity Could Be Worth Millions — or Nothing”

Joanne Wilson of Gotham Gal Ventures reminds us there’s more to angel investing than just deal flow and cutting checks in “When did Angel investing become a commodity?”

Aaron Holiday and Nnamdi Okike of 645 Ventures explores a framework for understanding venture capital risk an decision making through the lens of Warren Buffet in “Circle of Competence and the Venture Capital Invesment Triangle”

Jeffrey Minch of Littlefield Advisors summarizes the best thinking tools behind the fastest growing tech company in “Jeff Bezos On Decisionmaking”

Did I make a mistake selling to Yahoo?

We’ve moved from our side project domain to Buried Reads this week. Do us a favor and add this email to your address book. Now that we have a name, you can refer us to your friends and send them to to subscribe.

From the Operators

Joshua Schachter, founder of Web 2.0 phenomenon, asks “Did I Make a Mistake Selling My Social Media Darling to Yahoo?”

Collaborative Fund VC turned stealth startup founder Kanyi Maqubela resets his mental model around early stage startup risk mitigation in “Classical Risk vs. Quantum Risk”

From the Investors

Carlos Eduardo Espinal of Seedcamp lived through both the 2001 dot com bubble and 2008 real estate collapse, and shares your options in “Weatherproofing your startup for any financial climate — the 3rd way”

Morgan Housel of Collaborative Fund builds the case for how growing too fast can ruin the original spirit of a startup in “Haste Makes Waste”

Startup accelerator Y Combinator released a ranked list of portfolio companies by valuation in “YC Top Companies List – 2018”

Ana Paula González of 500 Startups has labeled a surprising city as their next target and the supporting data are interesting. See for yourself in “Why 500 Startups is betting on Miami, and so should you”

Next Generation of Series A Lead Investors

We chose a name this week — Buried Reads. This newsletter, along with our upcoming engineering focused newsletter, will both use that brand name. We hope to be sending this email next week from the new domain, so don’t be surprised to see a different domain soon.

The Next Generation of Series A Lead Investors

In our most interesting read this week, Semil Shah of Haystack highlights a new batch of firms that have graduated from seed investments in “A New VC Crop of Series A Firms”

From the Operators

John Cousins of MBA ASAP explains how to calculate “IRR Internal Rate of Return”. This is a metric VCs almost universally use to measure themselves, as an angel investor it was helpful. Scott Hirleman’s piece “Why IRR Is The Most Important VC Performance Metric” is a better place to start to understand the context IRR fits into within venture investing.

Kevan Lee of Buffer writes “An Intro to Diversity and Inclusion in Business: Resources for HR, Hiring, Managers, Founders, and Allies”. If you’re around 50 employees and formalizing HR this will save you a lot of time.

Brett Hurt of outlines several hard won lessons from his journey as CEO in “Seven lessons learned on the journey from founder to CEO”.

From the Investors

Jeffrey Carter of West Loop Ventures predicts what startup investors should expect as interest rates rise in “The Fed And Valuation”. It’s a timely read this week with the 4% dip in the S&P 500 and NASDAQ composite.

Glenn Solomon of GGV Capital identifies Elastic Search’s innovate facets in “Why the Elastic IPO is So Important”. I am amazed to learn they only burned $120M lifetime to get to a $200M run rate.

Lindsay Knight of Chicago Ventures shows us just how overloaded venture capital job titles get in “The Many Flavors of Venture Partners: From the Platform Braintrust”

How Uber, FanDuel, and Pinterest spawned containerization and serverless

As the Fall weather sets in for Denver, we’ve been working on software that will identify blog posts from founders and VCs, and someday engineers. This week Kevin’s good friend Max visited, and helped him wrangle technologies like doc2vec, LDA, and t-SNE to unlock the next step of progress. Our aim is to discover 100x as many startup and engineering centered blogs so we can bring you the very best reads each week.

We have a favor to ask this week. If you use GMail and notice us showing up in your Promotions tab, drag us over to Primary. Of course if we haven’t earned this place in your inbox yet, reply to this email and let us know how we could be better.

Uber, FanDuel, and Pinterest spawned containerization and serverless

Dani Grant and Nick Grossman of Union Square Ventures solve the riddle of which comes first: great apps or the infrastructure needed to run them in “The Myth of The Infrastructure Phase.” For Bitcoin skeptics, the lessons are valuable independent of whether you think web 3.0 is really about cryptocurrencies.

From the Operators

Sandy Lerner originally of Cisco shares her founding story. You may have already heard the story of VCs overthrowing the company’s married cofounders, but we didn’t know the early details of doing Internet marketing back in 1987 that grew them to over $250k in monthly revenue. Get the whole story in the “How I Built This” podcast

Rand Fishkin of SparkToro wondered if there was a way for his new company to bias towards lower risk, profitable growth while steering clear of a high risk, high growth at all costs in “SparkToro Raised a Very Unusual Round of Funding & We’re Open-Sourcing Our Docs”

Sahil Lavingia of Gumroad has been regularly sharing financials on Twitter, yielding several interesting conversations threads. Check out their results for September, August, July, and June.

Felicia Curcuru of Binti launches a new office hours series from AllRaise, focused on helping female founders get warm intros to investors through the network. Check out the “Female Founder Office Hour Deal Flow Network”

From the Investors

Congratulations to David Ulevitch formerly of OpenDNS who was promoted to General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz this week.

Cory Levy of Spearhead sits down with Jeff Clavier this week diving into the lessons learned across his 20 year career as a VC in “Jeff Clavier on Standing Out, Valuations, and Saying No”

Dan Martell offers timely advice as annual planning activities kickoff at startups everywhere with “7 Steps to Building The Right Business Forecasting Process For Your Startup”

Kristine Yamartino of OpenView Venture Partners gave us the idea of using text messages to beat out competing companies for candidate attention in “How to Keep Candidates Engaged through a Long Interview Process”

From the Analysts

Jason Rowley of Crunchbase reports that the SoftBank vision fund may have shook up Sand Hill Road’s near monopoly over venture funding in “The Q3 2018 Global VC Report: New Records Hit Amid Seismic Shift In The Industry”

This Week’s Pick

Airpods silicon case

Both Danielle and I have Apple Airpods, and it became a hassle to tell them apart. A few months ago, Danielle bought a case for her’s, and not only can we tell them apart, but her’s glow in the dark now (I’m getting jealous over here!). For women, this makes it easy to find them burried in your purse. If you listen to books / music while your partner is sleeping, this also makes them standout on the nightstand table. Best $9 we’ve spent.

Danielle & Kevin’s Startup Newsletter with No Name – #4

This is Kevin here writing this week. Danielle and I are back from Hawaii and adjusting to the Fall temperatures in Colorado. While we’re both taking time off between startups, it’s been noticeable how work pulls you back in even though you know you need a break. It’s been mostly me writing the past 2 weeks, so let me know if we’re doing a good job of keeping the quality bar high and the writing on point.

Engineering Newsletter Update: last week we previewed an upcoming newsletter focused on engineering content. Several of you are interested, and I’m working on v1, but want to make sure we can keep the quality high. Right now I’m culling together a list of 100+ feeds to pull the best content from, but we may need even more since great engineers tend to write infrequently. If you have anyone you know who’s written great posts in either startups or engineering, just reply to this email and let us know.

From the Operators

Justin Jackson of takes a sobering look at how long it will take to grow from $781 MRR to a living salary, and questions whether venture scale critics like Jason Fried of 37signals have misled bootstrapped founders in “Bootstrapper’s paradox”

Ammon Bartram and Harj Taggar of Triplebyte recently guided CTOs through the recruiting journey that is ahead of them. They took a comprehensive look at the recruiting ecosystem without overly selling their own service. You can learn from their hard earned lessons in “Building an Engineering Team”

Rand Fishkin of SparkToro points out that highly trafficked sites like Google, Facebook, Reddit, Instagram have become insular and shouldn’t be blindly relied upon to send you traffic in “The Powerhouses of the Internet Are Turning Hostile to Websites”

Amjad Masad of gets a last minute YC interview, even after Rick Rolling the entire partnership in “Rejected Then Recruited: Our Journey into Y Combinator”

From the Investors

Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures celebrates 15 years of publishing his blog this week. He also sat down with Chris Dixon from a16z for a far reaching conversation on AI, crypto, and where we are in the history of the software industry. Easily one of the more thought provoking podcasts I listened to this week.

Hunter Walk of Homebrew cautions founders seeking bridge financing to expect the possibility of a flat round in “Second Seeds: The New Normal But Know This…”

Joanne Wilson of Gotham Gal Ventures recounts the an early career story of standing up to a bad manager in “Be Tough but Be Yourself”

Barry Eggers of Lightspeed Venture Partners shares his recipe for fund construction, sparing many first time VCs from mistakes that will come to haunt them when they raise fund II, in “VC Firms — How to Build an LP Base for the Long-term.”

Martin Casado of Andreessen Horowitz urges founders who are raising to preemptively calibrate their phase of growth for investors in “Aligning Startup Metrics with Stage of Maturity (Beyond Labels for Fundraising Rounds)”

Sammy Abdullah of Blossom Street Ventures outlines how to hire an investment banker for M&A, something too few founders proactively learn about, in “Negotiating with your investment banker”

This Week’s Picks

Last week I recommended the Internet History Podcast, but I could tell from the click through count and my own hasty writing I didn’t do a good job describing it. When I first discovered this great work by Brian McCullough, I was glued to my earphones for days catching up on old episodes. It is an incredible trip down memory lane if you grew up in the 90s, and often gives you an “aha” moment as you see what was really going on behind the curtains. I hope you give it a listen if you haven’t already.


Connections by James Burke

Anyone that works in tech and hasn’t read this book is in for a surprise. Each chapter of the book starts out at the dawn of civilization and follows a chain of an invention taking you all the way up to modern day by the end of the chapter. For example, the Jacquard loom of 1804 was an inspiration to Charles Babbage who built one of the first mechanical computers in 1822. American inventor Herman Hollerith came across Babbage’s difference engine later that century, and build a machine for tabulating the 1890 census. His company would be acquired by a conglomerate that would become IBM. The in depth story in series of inventions is more interesting than anything I can summarize here.