Warming up in the Bullpen
Sometimes you know you’ve found your “tribe” as soon as you meet them. And while I’ve been talking to the team at Bullpen Capital for quite a few months, I knew on the first day we sat down to talk about what we all believed about the venture business, company building and the future that I was sitting among people with whom I’d want to build something. There was a crispness of logic and a level of shared belief that I’d been looking for. I’m delighted to announce that I have joined Bullpen Capital as their newest General Partner.
I began my VC career at RRE Ventures, a leading firm in New York City. One of the key lessons I learned during the first act of my investing career there was that investors who carry a differentiated “product” (in RRE’s case, the differentiation is via category leadership and network density in NYC) hold a strong market position, because many providers of venture funding can look awfully similar. So it was with great interest that I dug into the Bullpen model, which at its core is a contrarian take on the orthodoxy that so often pervades the venture funding cycle.
Bullpen funds a lot of really strong companies that others don’t understand or whose value is somehow obscured. This often manifests as stage differentiation, as not every company smoothly fits into the seed → 18 month → $10M+ Series A format that has emerged as the “standard” in 2015. The fund also offers different structures, round sizes and syndicate construction to founders who have their own take on their capital-raising cadence. As with most non-consensus approaches, I initially asked if this approach would generate strong results. Then I walked through the portfolio and the performance my now partners have generated, and I didn’t need to ask again.
As I got deeper into the screening, decision and portfolio management processes at Bullpen, I had growing awareness that there was a powerful system and methodology here for identifying venture scale opportunities that were non-obvious. And when I talked to founders who worked with the fund, it was eye opening to hear story after story of companies where product market fit had been achieved but a “super sized” round didn’t make sense to the company or its founders, either for reasons of exit optionality, a belief that an even bigger value inflection point was imminent or because a well-functioning syndicate was already in place. For dozens of these companies, Bullpen has been a unique and valuable partner.
So after considering a variety of options to join more traditional venture institutions, it’s with confidence and energy that I have joined Paul, Duncan, Rich and James — this group of high-energy, data-driven original thinkers in their mission to build a powerful and valuable investing platform that partners with incredible companies.