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 Transistor.fm 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 Repl.it 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.

Danielle & Kevin’s Startup Newsletter with No Name – #3

Hello from Hawaii and welcome to week 3 of our newsletter. We appreciate your patience (and suggestions!) while we work on finding a name for this publication.

New newsletter alert! Kevin is working on finding the best writing on software engineering. If you would be interested in receiving a separate newsletter with the most thought provoking posts for coders, let us know by replying to this email. We’re early in the process, and anxious to hear what readers value the most. Tell us what you’d like to see in a technologist focused newsletter by dropping a note to editor@buriedreads.com

From the Operators

Henry Ward of Carta opens up the books on their internal cap table data, revealing the discrepancy between the proportion of women in tech and their relative share of equity in “Women on Cap Tables”

David Cummings of Atlanta Tech Village narrows down the key drivers for startup ecosystems in “Growing the Startup Community”. Assuming he’s right, look for Shenzen and London to get a shot in the arm from IPOs of X Financials and Farfetch respectively.

Jason Cohen of WP Engine reminds us that just as performance driving has sudden acceleration, lurching stops, and scary turns, so too does running a high growth startup in “When ‘fits and starts’ is the most efficient path”

James Gill of GoSquared looks back on the success of his company’s weekly newsletter in “17,000 subscribers. 450 hours. 150 issues of GoSquared Weekly.”

From the Analysts

Alex Wilhelm of Crunchbase News gives us the lowdown on how to decode an S-1 statement in “From Private To Public: How To Read An S-1”. It is especially useful this week given the IPOs of Upwork, Eventbrite, X Financial, Farfetch, and Survey Monkey.

From the Investors

Semil Shah of Haystack lends an outside perspective on the shake up at KPCB, most noticeably highlighting the addition of Mamoon Hamid formerly of Social Capital as an encouraging sign, in “Reflections On The Big Shake-Up At Kleiner Perkins”

Jason Lemkin of SaaStr candidly answers a question on the mind of many struggling founders in “When should a CEO tell startup employees that the company is going under?”. This is only the beginning of an answer for an incredibly touchy subject; more founders and investors should write about this.

Stephanie Simon of Y Combinator announces that YC will be taking applications a batch ahead for their upcoming accelerator. They’re well on their way to grabbing a toehold across a huge swath of the early stage funnel, when you consider this is coming on the heels of their giant 15,000 company Startup School batch.

Bruce Booth of Life Sci VC charts 50% growth in the number of publicly traded biotech stocks from 2011 to 2016 in “The Incredible Expanding Universe of Biotech Stocks”

This Week’s Podcast Pick

If you don’t already know about the Internet History Podcast, you are missing out. Brian McCullough the creator started out by researching and telling the history himself in January 2014. By March of 2014 the podcast was discovered by an early Netscape engineer who volunteered for an interview. From there, Brian has gone on to interview over a hundred insiders who built the web as we know it.

“Chapter 1, Part 1, Mosaic”

“An Interview with Lou Montulli”

Danielle & Kevin’s Startup Newsletter with No Name – #2

Woo hoo! It’s week #2 of our newsletter that still needs a name (read the 1st issue here). Thank you to everyone who has forwarded this newsletter on to friends and colleagues. If you have open jobs at your startup, just wrote a blog post you’d like us to consider, or have a cool “Request for Startup” idea for the new section we are going to start running please drop us a note with a short blurb no more than 30 words and a link. We can’t promise to include everything, but we’d love to hear from you!

The Best Thing We Found This Week

Peter Thiel is one of the most interesting vocal personalities in the technology ecosystem, and this interview brings together thoughts on his investing strategy, experiences serving on the board at Facebook for the entirity of its existence (14 years), and our personal favorite: a lot more detail around the founding story of Paypal. The headline of the interview is salacious with mentions of our current Cheeto in Chief, a blockbuster celebrity lawsuit, and his move to Los Angeles — but we think the other tidbits we mentioned are the real meat of the conversation.

“Peter Thiel on Trump, Gawker, and Leaving Silicon Valley”

From the Operators

Carl Tashian of Nerd Coach digs into startup postmortems, finding founder communication and underlying passion deserve more attention in “What Really Kills Most Startups”

Rand Fishkin of SparkToro reminds us that great marketing doesn’t start with optimizing ad campaigns, but rather understanding what the people you want to reach pay attention to in “You’ve Got Product/Market Fit… What About Marketing/Market Fit?”

Mathilde Collin of Front emphasizes the value of building relationships before you raise in in “Fireside Chat with Founder and CEO of Front, Mathilde Collin”

Patricia Aas of TurtleSec lists “Survival Tips For Women In Tech” (isn’t it sobering that such a list is even necessary?) and Knut Melvaer of Sanity follows on with 23 tips we can all do to help make tech better for women in “Making tech survivable: What Can Men Do”

Russell Smith of Rainforest doesn’t think your startups tech stack needs to be a special snowflake in “5 Foolish Reasons You’re Not Using Heroku”

From the Investors

Congratulation to Austin Clements on his promotion to Principal at TenOneTen Ventures

Kyle Poyar of OpenView lays bare the metrics you need to hit to raise a Series A all the way up to Series D in “What Does It Take To Raise Your Next Round In 2018?” The full report is also available.

David Beisel of NextView Ventures shows early stage companies how they’re being compared to their peers in “Seed Stage Startups Are Now Graded on a Curve”

Founder mental health is on the radar this week

Michael Seibel of Y Combinator details “How to Email Early Stage Investors” and maybe the era of signaling prestige by getting a warm intro is finally over, at least at the angel stage

Diego Rey of Y Combinator claims that “over the last two years, YC has made more seed investments in bio companies than any other investor in the world.” More over, “the percentage of bio companies in each batch has been increasing linearly since 2011.” in “There Are Now 141 Bio Companies Funded by YC”

Are these bio companies getting financing downstream? LifeSci VC breaks down the stats in “Biotech Venture Deal Terms Are More Startup Friendly Than Ever”

Ali Hamed of CoVenture challenges the investing advice of Warrent Buffett and LPs should take notice in “Investing on an 0–2 Count”

Working at a Startup? It’s Time to Learn About Equity Compensation

Our dear friend and Mattermark cofounder Andy Sparks is working on a new startup, Holloway, building tech to help people find, consume, and improve tactical knowledge. Their first guide came out a few weeks ago, offering a comprehensive overview of stock option compensation.

To learn more, check out “The Holloway Guide to Equity Compensation”

This Week’s Book Pick

“The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood” by James Gleick

Do you know the surprising story of how the Information Age got underway? The Information tells the story from early African tribes and their own form of Morse code, to how England’s need to dominate the seas led tinkerer Charles Babbage on a journey to build the forerunner to ENIAC as early as the 1800s, to information theory pioneer Claude Shannon. After 20 years in software industry, Kevin was surprised to finish the book wondering, “How did I come this far knowing so little about what got our industry going?!”

Danielle & Kevin’s Startup Newsletter with No Name – #1

For those who subscribed awhile back, this is the DanielleMorrill.com newsletter, where my husband Kevin and I are exploring a new weekly (and maybe someday daily) newsletter about startups, investing, our new life in Denver after selling Mattermark, and exploring how to bootstrap a new business around this content. — Danielle

I’m excited to write this newsletter alongside Danielle. In order to find, organize, understand the best writing on startups across the web I am using machine learning to find hidden gems that could have been easily missed. Beyond startups, I have many intellectual interests including the history of invention and philosophy. I’m exploring how this technology could generate other topical newsletters. — Kevin

From the Operators

Adora Cheung of Y Combinator interviews Ooshma Garg of Gobble about the evolution of her prepared meal kit delivery company and endurance through The Struggle

In her own words @Ooshma: “practice makes perfect ;)”

Mike Maser of Big Sky Health shares his journey from user to CEO of Zero Fasting App, which was originally created by serial entrepreneur Kevin Rose in “Saved by Zero — Surviving Cancer, Discovering Fasting, and Turning It Into My Next Career Journey”

Retired serial startup founder, author, professor and investors Steve Blank comments on the return of a late 90s startup trend: high profile founders raising huge amounts (like, 3 commas huge) of capital with nary a product in sight in “Is the Lean Startup Dead?”

Harj Taggar of Triplebyte provides a hands on guide with actionable advice for “Convincing Engineers to Join Your Team”

Kevin is a moderator for 30 companies in Y Combinator’s Startup School, and this week’s theme is Product Market Fit with two helpful founder accounts:

From the Investors

Congratulations to Angela Tran Kingyens on her promotion to General Partner at Version One Ventures. Angela joined the firm 5 years ago, and we are proud to have worked with her through that entire at portfolio founders at Mattermark. She is one of the few investors we now who can make an API request, and we can’t wait to see what she invests in next!

Arlan Hamilton of Backstage Capital launched the firm’s startup accelerator program this week, and offered commentary on claims that comments to the press were “calling out other accelerators” for their lack of diversity, in a tweetstorm on Thursday evening.

Peter Brack introduces his new venture firm Hypothesis on the belief that great companies can and should be built everywhere in “Hypothesis: The Next Wave of Transformative Companies Will Come From Outside of Silicon Valley”

Lisa Suennen formerly of GE Ventures reflects on the wisdom of Winnie the Pooh as she says goodbye to her role at the corporate venture firm in “What’s Next?! A Plan in Progress”

Venture Capitalist Brian Laung Aoaeh shares his story of deciding to disband KEC Ventures in “#ProofPoints: An Ending + A Beginning”

Semil Shah of Haystack opens up a conversation about whether VC need to “go all in” to demonstrate their commitment in “Conviction, Diversification, and Portfolio Construction”

Rob Go of NextView Ventures ends a busy summer with a thoughtful post outlining the core beliefs of his firm in ”The NextView Ventures Manifesto”

Startup Jobs to Check Out

FlexPort is revolutionizing global trade and disrupting an industry that touches every person on earth. The company is based in San Francisco, and they’re hiring several Software Engineers to solve complex challenges.

Treasury Prime is transforming banking. The company is based in San Francisco, and they are hiring engineers to build modern banking infrastructure for 21st Century.

Enzyme is building FDA compliance and quality systems as a service. The company is based in San Francisco, and they are hiring a Director of Engineering.

* we are angel investors in this company

This Week’s Book Pick

“Scale: The Universal Laws of Life, Growth, and Death in Organisms, Cities, and Companies” by Geoffrey West

Ready to geek out on power laws, fractals, and connections between the natural world and the man-made? This book took our curiosity soaring several times and is a relevant read for those navigating the growing pains of a startup going from a two person team to 200, or VC firm going from 2 partners and $25M to a second or third fund 10x that size.