Nuro Founders Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu.

I couldn’t be more excited to announce our Series A investment in Nuro and that I have joined the Board of Directors.

Nuro is as compelling of an opportunity as I’ve ever seen in transportation. The company’s mission is to accelerate the benefits of robotics for everyday life. And today, they are starting with their first product — an autonomous, unmanned vehicle purpose-built to move products from place to place, focusing on local commerce.

It’s an incredibly ambitious project from an incredibly talented team.

The company has been heads down in stealth mode since inception a year and a half…

Ritual Founders Robert Kim, Raymond Reddy, and Larry Stinson.

I’m very excited about our investment in Ritual. Ritual has grown into a thriving social commerce marketplace that connects brick-and-mortar merchants and local customers. We led the Series A in the summer of 2015 and I joined the Board of Directors. Since then, Ritual has launched 7 cities, raised a large Series B, and signed over 1,600 restaurant partners.

Through Ritual today, a person can order food for themselves and have it ready to pick up when they arrive at the restaurant. No waiting in line. While ordering ahead via an app is not a new thing, the magic with…

Trove Co-founders Mike Pao & Jon Perlow

Special Founders Build Special Companies

It All Begins With The Founders

There are lots of criteria involved with making an early stage investment decision — the founders, the idea, the timing, the founder/product fit, the investor/investment fit, the deal structure, etc. It can feel complicated and overwhelming, but it can be simplified. I have learned it all starts with the founders, and the earlier the stage, the more this is true. The story of Trove begins with Mike Pao and Jon Perlow.

I met Mike a couple of years ago while he was at Uber. Every big start up success has a few key early employees that are principals of that…

But What Happens Next?

My recent blog post, Why Uber Won — The Startup Steroid Era and the Use of Capital as a Performance Enhancing Drug, generated a ton of insightful feedback and produced some important questions. Given all the discussion about the post, I wanted to share a few follow-on thoughts.

The post was a look back on how, between 2010–2015, many startups used cash as a weapon to literally buy growth and scale. I used Uber as an extreme case-study of this “steroid era” where aggressive startups used cash as a “performance enhancing drug.” I argued that Uber “won” because they used…

The Startup Steroid Era and the Use of Capital as a Performance Enhancing Drug

The start of 2016 marked the end of the steroid era of startups — the time between 2010 and 2015 when money was cheap and more plentiful, and used as a performance enhancing drug for company acceleration. No question, venture money has always been used to accelerate company building. But this was different. Cash was able to singlehandedly drive scale and growth. The zero interest rate environment created a generation of investors desperate for returns, and everyone — from angel investors to LPs — had money to put to work. The overhang of cash pushed the market pendulum to swing…

By Simon Rothman

There is a big debate happening in the on-demand economy. W2 vs 1099. It’s the wrong framework. Neither are the right long term answer. We need a new classification. One that combines the protections of employees with the flexibility of contractors.

The challenge is that the nature of work is evolving faster than the definition of workers.

The debate is becoming politically and emotionally charged. Are you pro-worker or pro-company? Again the wrong framework. Enabling service workers to have more control over the “what” and “when” of their professional lives is an (inevitable) step forward.

simon rothman

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