July 13, 2022

#120 Foundation Capital: Reinventing a 27 Year Old Venture Capital Firm | Steve Vassallo, General Partner

#120 Foundation Capital: Reinventing a 27 Year Old Venture Capital Firm | Steve Vassallo, General Partner

In Episode #120, we explore reinventing a well-established venture capital firm. We’re joined by Steve Vassallo, General Partner at Foundation Capital. We cover Minimum Awesome Product, the prepared mind vs. open mind, and learnings from tearing down and rebuilding an investment firm.


In Episode #120, we explore reinventing a well-established venture capital firm. We’re joined by Steve Vassallo, General Partner at Foundation Capital. We cover Minimum Awesome Product, the prepared mind vs. open mind, and learnings from tearing down and rebuilding an investment firm.

“The best product matters, but it is not what defines a generationally important company.” – Steve Vassallo

EPISODE GUIDE (LINKS, QUOTES, NOTES, AND BOOKS MENTIONED)

https://www.danielscrivner.com/notes/foundation-capital-steve-vassallo 

FULL TEXT TRANSCRIPT

https://www.danielscrivner.com/notes/foundation-capital-steve-vassallo-transcript 

CHAPTERS

This episode is our definitive guide to reinventing a venture capital firm. In it we cover:

  • (00:00:00) – Introduction
  • (00:02:39) – From electro mechanical engineering to product design
  • (00:06:22) – Interdisciplinary innovation and missionary misfits
  • (00:10:24) – How investing snuck into Steve’s career
  • (00:15:33) – Working at the intersection of building and investing
  • (00:19:24) – A 15-year window into the investment world
  • (00:24:45) – Tearing down and rebuilding an investment firm
  • (00:39:04) – Identifying a firm’s turning point
  • (00:41:21) – Going down the rabbit hole of crypto and enticing investors to follow
  • (00:51:35) – The prepared mind vs. open mind
  • (00:54:44) – Building the best product matters, but it doesn’t guarantee success
  • (00:57:56) – The Minimum Awesome Product and evolving product-market fit
  • (01:02:07) – Advice for new founders


ABOUT FOUNDATION CAPITAL

Steve Vassallo is General Partner at Foundation Capital and author of "The Way to Design." In this episode, we explore what it's like to reinvent a venture capital firm. Foundation Capital was founded in 1995, 27 years ago by Bill Elmore, Catherine Gold, and Jim Anderson. One of the foundation's early claims to fame was that it was one of the first investors in Netflix back in the early 2000s. 

This episode is our definitive guide to reinventing a venture capital firm. In it, we cover Steve's early years bringing design, product, and engineering together at IDEO, and what that taught him about building successful products and companies, the early warning signs he saw that made it clear Foundation Capital needed to be reinvented, how Foundation rediscovered who they were and who they wanted to be as a team, how they changed the way they operated and made investment decisions to giving partners more latitude to invest in the ideas they thought could be massive companies in the years to come, how they began making crypto investments, which led to massive wins in Solana and Brave by making small bets and winning over LP support as the wins added up.

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ABOUT OUTLIER ACADEMY

Learn timeless lessons on work and life from iconic founders, world-renown investors, and bestselling authors. Outlier Academy is the forever school for those chasing greatness. Past guests include Gokul Rajaram of DoorDash, Scott Belsky of Benchmark and Adobe, Joey Krug of Pantera Capital, Mark Sisson of Primal Kitchen, Luke Gromen of The Forest for the Trees, and Brian Scudamore of 1-800-GOT-JUNK.

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ABOUT DANIEL SCRIVNER

Outlier Academy is hosted by Daniel Scrivner. Over the last 15 years, Daniel has led design teams at Square and Apple, turned around a $3M+ ARR SaaS business, and invested in more than 100 companies. He launched Outlier Academy in 2020 to learn from the world’s best founders, investors, authors, and peak performance experts.

Website: https://www.danielscrivner.com

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/danielscrivner

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