For the the vast majority of people who read these blog posts (especially those who read them on Facebook or LinkedIn) who aren’t obsessed with tech startups, let me start by saying that Fred Wilson, who I admire greatly, is a VC based in New York whose firm (Union Square Ventures) has a string of hits that you’d never heard of when they first invested, but that turned into, well, stuff like Twitter. (Granted, for a group of you, the name Fred Wilson has rockstar status.)
Today, Fred posts a story on his blog — a parable, actually — about one that got away. He posted it under the title Airbnb (pronounced, Air B&B), and it’s about the mistake his firm made in passing up the chance to invest in the person-to-person marketplace for renting rooms, apartments, etc. by the day, week, month, etc. (my definition, not their’s, which is the more concise and cool, “a community marketplace for unique spaces”). However, I’d like to name it for you, “Why Life is Like a Box of ObamaO’s,” and encourage you to read it.
Key quote (and you can change “investors” to lots of other words like “employers,” “talent scouts,” “literary agents,” even, alas, “parents”):
“We made the classic mistake that all investors make. We focused too much on what they were doing at the time and not enough on what they could do, would do, and did do.
[Sidenote: I just realized, this is the first post I’ve ever written that is, literally, like reading the back of a cereal box.]
Bonus link: A day later, Paul Graham shares the email thread he exchanged with Fred during AirBNB’s early fundraising.