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.

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

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 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.