Valleywag named Mark Suster, then CEO of Koral “one entrepreneur who won’t just take VC abuse” for his blog post “slamming one VC partnership for tardiness, inadequate preparation, and bad Blackberry manners.” That was late 2006…
Not long after the “incident” his startup, Koral received funding, which, in hindsight was probably unnecessary: a few months later, barely out with a beta product Koral got acquired by Salesforce.com. The product which I described as Collaborative Content Management without the Hassle of “Management” would become the core of SalesForce Content. But first it would need to be rebuilt bottom-up – and what’s a businessman to do in the meantime? So after a few months as Salesforce.com VP Mark left, in accordance with the terms of the acquisition.
Now, what’s the obvious next step for a 3-time successful entrepreneur, who “won’t take VC abuse”? Become a Venture Capitalist himself.
Joke apart, Mark has never been “anti-VC”, the rant referred to a specific firm and a specific situation, and he actually received over a dozen emails from VCs who appreciated his candor… Personal relationships and trust matter a lot in this business, so perhaps it’s not surprising that Mark joined GRP Partners, the VC firm that funded his two prior ventures. Back then he told me how his respect developed for co-Founder Yves Sisteron, for his advise against raising too much capital. That was the year 2000, before the bubble burst, and when VC firms were still in the habit if flooding startups with way too much money, at ridiculous valuation. At a time when the trend was still building fat companies, Mark took the advice, started scaling down before the really bad times, took a smaller-than-planned investment at less valuation, and started cutting costs – that included staff. In hindsight this may have been the very reason why his business survived.
Now he is a VC Partner representing that same philosophy. CloudAve readers know that here we have tremendous respect for the ultimate entrepreneurial model of bootstrapping one’s business – but a lot of businesses will still require venture capital investment. The VC you work with – both the firm and the Partner – makes a world of a difference though. Seth Levine has just written recently:
I may be over-generalizing but in my world view there are Old School VCs and New School VCs. Old School VCs are partners/firms that prefer to sit back in their offices, have entrepreneurs come to them, invest only in their back yard and show up at monthly board meetings to offer their wisdom. New School VCs are out in the technology community, seek out new trends and companies, engage with the tech ecosystem (both start-ups and more established companies), invest where their investment focus takes them, aren’t afraid to travel and generally work significantly harder than the stereotype of a venture capitalist.
When I blogged previously I think I was known for being direct and irreverent. So much that I ended up on the front page of Valleywag (before it was subsumed by Gawker) for calling a SF-based VC to task for being wankers in a meeting. I hope to bring the same straightforward commentary to my posts from the other side of the table. I hope to offer experiences from being an entrepreneur and being a VC. I will do my best to communicate from Both Sides of the Table.
Mark, it’s good to see you back.
Update (7/9): I am thrilled to announce that Mark accepted to be featured as Guest Blogger with us.