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Today we’re announcing that my partner Kara Nortman is becoming Co-Managing Partner at Upfront Ventures and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to welcome her to her new role.

As with all promotions, the reality is that Kara was already acting as a senior leader at our firm and also in the industry at large. She had all of the skills and traits we sought — leadership, mentorship, competitiveness, communications, relationship-building — and of course a relentless pursuit of helping founders succeed.

I’ve become fond of saying “if I had a dollar for every person who told me just how much they loooooved Kara Nortman, I’d have a 10x fund.” So mostly we just had to listen to customer feedback from founders, VCs and LPs. …


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I’m so fricking pumped today. Really, truly. Yeah, Valence announced > $5 million in funding led by GGV and Upfront. That IS a big deal, but I’ll get to that. But Kamala Harris was picked to be the Vice Presidential candidate for the Democratic Party. That means she’ll be the first female Vice President of the United States, the first female Black Vice President and the first Indian-American Vice President. I don’t take this for granted, be ready for a fight. But let’s be clear. WE WILL WIN. …


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Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

I was listening to Dan Primack’s podcast on Pro Rata and he was interviewing Senator Klobucher who is now publicly and vocally speaking out against Uber purchasing Grubhub and has tried to mobilize against this.

Her argument is that if Uber buys Grubhub (which itself once merged with Seamless) it would mean that Uber Eats / Grubhub would control half the market and that with DoorDash the two together would control 90% of the market. …


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The venture capital world has started firing up a few cylinders again and looking for businesses that it believes will help us all succeed in ways that resonate with new ways of working as we begin to return to work. It’s clear things have changed for good and the need for managing remote communities of employees, customers and partners has become ever more important. So it’s no surprise that Bevy is announcing a $15 million fund-raising closed in the midst of the WFH era of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In marketing materials founders often refer to their customer base as a “community”, but there’s a huge gap between having customers and creating a community. The best businesses understand the difference and that communities are the single best advocates for others to buy your products. …


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Several years ago I made an appearance in a burgeoning new podcast called “20 Minute VC,” which by now needs no introduction. Harry was gracious enough to invite me back so this past week we recorded an episode discussing the current market environment.

Please download the episode here, if for no other reason than to make Harry happy :) but I’ve also included some quick notes below including a few notes I didn’t share in the podcast (and vice versa by the way — if you listen you’ll pick up much more than my quick notes below).

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Topics we covered:

B2B Companies

You haven’t seen the full extent to how the correction is going to affect you. We discussed why in Q4 you will see large renegotiations of SaaS contracts and increased churn rates. We talked about what startup CEOs should do in these situations and how to think about these renegotiations. Nobody will be immune because in a bull market executives are paid to “innovate” so they sign software contracts and run projects. In a bear market executives are paid to: consolidate the number of contracts and renegotiate prices. …


There is so much confusion and misinformation out there about the government sponsored “payroll protection plan” loans to companies that the heads of every small business CEO in the country must be spinning. We have been advising a lot of entrepreneurs so I thought I’d “open source” some of the advice I have been sharing.

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I am not claiming to be the world expert on this. But I have been in close contact with the NVCA, many of the major law firms and many of the major VC firms. Along with my partner Stuart Lander, who runs operations at Upfront and is a former lawyer, we have scoured through, debated and helped scores of companies make this determination. …


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In the past two weeks we have entered perhaps to most surreal experience in any of our lives. I think intuitively many of us believe it may be a more lasting impact than just “60 days at home,” which is why we almost have a nervous laughter when we call (Zoom!) somebody we haven’t spoken to since before the crisis and acknowledge how bizarre we all feel right now. I have seen the insides of more people’s homes and apartments than I probably ever have as we’re invited into this intimate world of videoconferencing.

Just two weeks into it we are just starting to come to grips with what will no doubt wreak big financial, emotional and obviously dire health consequences and suffering for many. …


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I am due to speak at the SaaStr conference next week: Wednesday, March 11th at 10:45 AM. I had originally signed up to talk about the “VC Market Trends” overall but it seemed inauthentic to speak about VC funding without addressing the virus in the room. So I wrote a brand new deck outlining some Upfront views on what we may see in the funding markets ahead.

This is a message we have been delivering to our portfolio privately so we figured it made sense to make it more public broadly in case its of any help to others.

No doubt it’s a richer presentation with audio and voiceover so I hope that SaaStr is recording and releasing presentations. But for now you can have view the deck I plan to use below (or click to go to SlideShare if you’d like to download it). …


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Every year, a personal Upfront Summit highlight is getting to sit down with experts in a field I care about. Sometimes that’s venture capital generally (like last year’s conversation with Reid Hoffman) and sometimes it’s in a space where I’ve invested (like mobility and city innovation with Bird’s Travis VanderZanden, one of our portfolio founders.)

I’ve spent a lot of my career thinking about digital and online video (with investments in companies like Maker Studios) so for that reason amongst many, I was excited to open the Upfront Summit a few weeks ago by interviewing Meg Whitman about Quibi and the digital media space. …


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I became a VC 12 years ago in 2007 when the pace of deals was much slower. I had just left Salesforce.com where I was VP, Products, after they had acquired my second startup. As I was trying to figure out the role I wanted to play in the VC world I decided I wanted to focus on businesses that were building deeply technical products to solve problems for business users.

Just as I was getting the swing of things the world shifted beneath my feet and the stock market went into a free fall and venture capital all but shut down for nearly a year. …

About

Mark Suster

2x entrepreneur. Sold both companies (last to salesforce.com). Turned VC looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs — I’m on Twitter at @msuster

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