Angular Ventures Weekly
Issue #151: For the week ended July 26, 2022
What kind of relationship are we having here?
This week, over dinner in Tel Aviv, our Venture Partner Ron Yachini shared a piece of VC wisdom that I want to share here. Ron and I were discussing a few founders we are working with, some of the challenges they face, and some of the difficulties we sometimes face in communicating with them our advice and perspective on the decisions they need to make.
At one point, Ron cut through the complexity of the conversation and framed it simply: “The relationship I want to have with a founder — the place I want to get to — is this: (1) They are fully transparent with me ahead of decisions they are making; (2) I am fully open and honest with them about my views and recommendations about their decisions; and (3) they ultimately go off and make whatever decision they want, and (4) I commit to align with them and fully support them once the decision has been made.”
This sounds simple in theory, but it’s hard in practice. It’s not always easy for a founder to avoid surprises and communicate upcoming decisions early — but this is essential because a lot of moves founders make (such as disclosing a business plan to other investors or promising equity grants to employees) are pretty much irreversible. It’s not always easy for VCs to say exactly what they really think — in a way that informs and empowers founders without pressuring or intimidating them. It’s not easy for founders to manage relationships with their investors and board members, especially when they disagree about key decisions. It can be especially difficult for founders to do things over the objections of those key stakeholders. Finally, it can be difficult for investors and board members to get fully aligned behind a course of action that they don’t fully agree with.
None of this is easy — but it is all essential in establishing a highly functional relationship between founders and VC. I work on this every day, and I have a ways to go. And I’m grateful to have wise experienced people like Ron who are great at reminding me of these not-so-obvious fundamentals.
Sep 7 / The Evolution of Collibra’s Product Positioning & How They Created a Category
Stan Christiaens, Co-Founder & Chief Data Citizen, Collibra
Sep 21 / A Talk with Jason Green
Jason Green, Founder & General Partner, Emergence Capital
FROM THE BLOG
The Right Stuff
How to build a commercial team.
Mapping the New World of Business Collaboration
Why we invested in Reco.
What do a 2003 BMW and Microsoft Excel have in Common?
Leaving users feeling empowered and energized, rather than managed and disconnected.
Fewer, but Better Than Ever
The Israeli tech eco-system ponders a slowdown in startup creation.
EUROPE & ISRAEL FUNDING NEWS
France/Marketing. Contentsquare raised $600M for its AI-powered platform provides rich and contextual insight into customer behaviors, feelings and intent at every touchpoint in their journey.
Finland/Quantum. IQM closed $130M to continue to build scalable hardware for universal quantum computers, focusing on superconducting technology.
Iceland/Climate. Carbfix raised $117M (the largest EU grant ever) to provide a natural and permanent storage solution by turning CO2 into stone underground in less than two years.
Ireland/Financial. Fonoa closed $60M to help companies automate tax compliance for global companies.
Israel/Health. Theator raised $39.5M for its AI to “read” video captured during operations, look for best practices and also help identify key moments when an operation may have taken the wrong turn.
Sweden/Climate. Normative raised $31.5M for its carbon accounting engine, which helps businesses calculate their entire climate footprint and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions
Germany/E-commerce. Charles raised $20M for its all-in-one, conversational-first operating system that promises to bring everything associated with e-commerce into WhatsApp and other chat apps.
Better semiconductors. MIT has discovered a semiconductor that can perform far better than silicon. “Although silicon allows electrons to readily flow through its structure, it is much less accommodating to “holes” — electrons’ positively charged counterparts — and harnessing both is crucial for particular types of devices. Furthermore, silicon does a poor job of transporting heat, which contributes to the frequent overheating problems and pricey cooling systems in computers. Now, a team of scientists from MIT, the University of Houston, and other institutions has carried out experiments showing that a material called cubic boron arsenide overcomes both of these limitations. In addition to providing high mobility to both electrons and holes, it has excellent thermal conductivity. It is the best semiconductor material ever found, and maybe the best possible one, according to the researchers.”
Carbon neutral fuel. Swiss public research university ETH Zurich has published a paper on what researchers say is the first demonstrated process for creating net carbon neutral jet fuel: “the entire thermochemical process chain from water and CO2 to kerosene in a fully-integrated solar tower system.”
Business apps. Charles Lamanna runs one of Microsoft’s fastest-growing businesses: helping regular folks build business apps. “Today, if this is the total number of solutions that the enterprises should build, say there’s 500 million of them: They can only afford to build 100 million at the current cost per solution that gets built. So 400 million apps have demand that goes unmet. Those 400 million can now be picked up and built with low-code tools by the business users themselves, and by non-coding but technically proficient people. Think of an IT admin who maybe can’t deploy to a Kubernetes cluster but definitely could go build a Power Platform solution. So they can go attack those 400 million. And the 100 million, a portion of those will also now be built with low-code to go faster and be more affordable. it has to be a platform that works for all three types of users: business users, so the citizen developers; IT professionals, so non-developers but technically proficient folks; and professional developers. All three have to be able to work on one platform. They don’t all use the same user interface, they don’t all use the same programming model, but all three have to be able to work on one platform. Otherwise, you can’t really enable all 500 million apps..”
HOW TO STARTUP
How to cut correctly. Nolan Church the Co-Founder and CEO at Continuum and ex-CPO of Carta reflects on his learnings from Carta’s 2020 layoff to help founders navigate layoffs. “Cut once. And tuck in your top performers. Multiple rounds of layoffs will decimate morale. It’s critical to cut only once, and deeper than you want. Also, don’t reduce salaries. If anything, *increase* salary and/or equity for top performers. You need them to stay.”
Founder love. Find a Co-Founder who writes about you like Brian Chesky wrote about his Co-Founder Joe Gebbia who left the company this week. ““Pessimists are usually right, but it’s the optimists who change the world.” Joe is the quintessential optimist. But it’s not rooted in blind faith. His optimism is rooted in his greatest superpower: his relentless imagination.”
HOW TO VENTURE
Watch enterprise spend. Jamin Ball, partner at Altimeter, writes in his latest weekly newsletter his updated thinking on the public markets and enterprise spend. “Yes, cloud is more efficient and reduces TCO and provides a whole host of other benefits. But there is an upfront cost associated with any of these transitions, and companies in a recession are thinking about limiting these costs. They’ll be put on pause, not canceled. Net net — I’m going to double down on my thinking that in the short term numbers will come down. UBS came out with a great note yesterday on cloud infra talking about AWS, Azure and GCP. The takeaway? “Bottom line, our checks down-ticked relative to 3 months ago, with references to slower new migration activity and longer sales cycles on new deals that we haven’t heard over the last 18 months.” Later on they stated: “The second — and still looming — risk is that the current economic downturn motivates enterprises to a) search for “infrastructure optimization” savings, basically finding “leaky faucets” to turn off and thereby trim cloud infrastructure spend and/or b) slow on-premise to cloud migration activity.” Said another way, we’re starting to see cracks in the demand environment. Given the way software is sold, this may not show up in revenue figures for a quarter or two (first new bookings slow, then top line rev slows).”
Vault Platform’s CEO, Neta Meidav, was selected as one of London’s most impressive CEOs in the human resources space.
DUST Identity is partnering with Parker Aerospace to better track and trace Lockheed Martin parts — from build to delivery and maintenance.