It took me a few minutes to start writing something after putting in this title “Turning to page 40”. I re-read the many emails, Facebook private and wall messages, skype IMs, SMSs, twitter messages and greeting e-cards I received over the past 24 hours. I am grateful for all of these, a big Thank You to you all. One of my journalist friends nailed it: “Just wanted to chime in and wish you a great year … and decade, I suppose!”. A great decade is what I am wishing myself today, I guess for the first time. I only have a vague souvenir of my turning 20, I remember the 30 transition because of the great wines (and the headaches) we had, but for some reason I find that turning 40 is a bigger deal. Sort of not being old yet, but not being young any more. My good friend Reid Hoffman took the same turn a few weeks ago, and I’ll have to confer with him on his thoughts on the matter (happy belated birthday to you Reid :-).
This new decade coincides with two other important milestones. One is personal: in 2 weeks, my beloved wife Bernadette and I will have been married for 15 years, and I have to send a big shout and much love to that beautiful, wonderful and wicked smart woman for having put up with me for such a long time. And for having supported my sort of unpredictable career moves – from being a CTO in France to becoming a VC in Silicon Valley 7 years ago, and then leaving the comforts of the “dark side” to launch SoftTech VC, kinda my own startup.
That is my second milestone: about 3 years ago (and a few months), I decided to start this firm and invest my time and our family’s money into early stage startups, more precisely consumer internet startups located in Silicon Valley. Web 2.0 did not exist per se then, nor was it as obvious as today that there was a tremendous opportunity to help launch capital efficient consumer services that would leverage a more mature Internet, one that was widely available, and where monetization opportunities were real (at least in my mind). Three years, 25 deals and 5 successful M&A exits later (Truveo/AOL, Userplane/AOL, MyBlogLog/Yahoo, Kaboodle/Hearst, Maya’s Mom/J&J’s BabyCenter), I am still very bullish about the myriad of early stage investment opportunities that are in front of us. Yes, there are pockets of over-invested areas in the consumer space, and yes, some valuations got me to wonder wtf some investors were thinking (*), but that does not mean that we are entering Bubble 2.0. That’s what I am betting in getting ready to make my next batch of 25 early stage investments in the next few years. And I hope that I will have the same sheer luck of meeting exceptional, smart and passionate entrepreneurs – some of which I decided to join and support, and others I wished best of luck to.
(*) I remember distinctly hearing these same discussions when KP & Sequoia invested in Google, and when Accel Partners invested in Facebook. So these valuations do make sense sometimes…
So thanks again to all for your kind wishes, and cheers to the new decade :-). I am off to a meeting with my lawyers now, writing some of the first paragraphs of… page 40.