Monday, April 9, 2012

What kind of fool do you think I am? (Air Supply, the Jam, MoneyMoves, BaubleBar, Simple, Fanbridge & Lot18)

"What kind of fool do you think I am? Do you think I know nothing of the modern world?"

The title consists of song lyrics to a wonderful tune by the Jam!  Why?...I'll tell you in a few lines, but first the news:
Earlier today I was interviewed on BloombergTV's Money Moves by very savvy host Deirdre Bolton (follow her on twitter at @deirdreBolton no, really, follow her -- she's smart as a whip). During the interview, the Instagram/Facebook deal broke and I reacted to it on the spot.
Here's the link.
I also got to talk about BaubleBar, the leading destination on the web for fashion jewelry.  Baublebar is an alumnus of FirstGrowthVN and a portfolio company of mine via GrapeArborVC
The interview also discussed Fanbridge, which is another alumnus of FirstGrowthVN and a portfolio company of mine via GrapeArborVC. Fanbridge is the leading fan management and marketing platform for email and social media.  Stars stay in touch with millions of fans each week via Fanbridge.
Having spoken of two of my angel investments, I turned, in a rare (for me) moment of humility, to discuss two investment opportunities I completely blew -- Simple & Lot18!
So now, here's why the Jam.  I was an idiot: they were right in front of me and I missed it. Formed in the 1970s, I was too busy listening to AirSupply -- yep, bought the damn tape.  How humiliating is that? (Have no fear, "I'm all out of love" for AirSupply right now).  I discovered the Jam some 15 years ago or so, but that was long after they broke up.  Here's a link to their song (quoted above), which isn't even among my top 3 favorite Jam songs (and what a song writer Paul Weller is!) Modern World.  This 1977 song is appropriate because the protagonist is basically screaming about how he doesn't need help figuring stuff out -- he's smart enough to know a thing or two! You can see it as anthemic -- the manifesto of angry young men -- or as hollow (in fact, I do need help, I'm just too stupid to know that).  With the power of hindsight, here's are two opportunities I missed and I confessed both on Deirdre's show:

Lot18 is a marketplace using expert staff to select wines.  Lot18 then connects wine producers and consumers --  the company doesn't own inventory or have classic e-commerce problems (warehousing and overhead).  What it does have is 750,000 users, $45M of venture funding and a team that has grown from 6 to 100 in 2 years.  They know their stuff and I don't own equity!  What was I thinking?
Simple -- well, we all know banks suck at customer experience. I know mine does (and I recently stopped a certain family member from going postal on our bank).  Simple provides an incredible customer experience -- it replaces your bank to provide a great and well designed customer experience.  Banks provide the back end (we can trust them to do things like keep our money in FDIC-backed accounts, etc), but Simple makes a great front end.  I had written a blog post about Simple co-founder (and early Twitter engineer) Alex Payne -- here's that one:
Enjoy and thanks to Deirdre and her team for welcoming me back on, especially during a newsworthy day!

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