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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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I’m Trying To Be Respectful, But This Makes Me Crazy

Comments (92)

Following is something that happens to me on a regular basis, with a new and exciting twist. I’m telling this story both to vent (maybe I’m grumpy today – I don’t know) as well as for an object lesson on how not to interact with a VC, or at least with me.

First – the normal part. I’ve had an email exchange with an entrepreneur over the past week. We’ve never met, but he started the email thread by asking if I’d be interested in getting together about his company because he’s looking for financing and he’s sure I’ll be interested. I asked for a short description of what he’s doing. He sent me another email telling me all the friends we have in common who will vouch for him. I responded by asking what he was working on. He gave me a vague description and told me I’d love it. I didn’t really understand it, but it didn’t fit in any of our themes and I told him so. He said he’d looked at the themes and thought I’d be really excited about what his doing. I again asked him to be more specific in case I was missing something.

Now – the new and exciting part. I didn’t hear back from him for a few days and then got an email asking me to respond to his previous message. I looked through my email archive and didn’t have a previous message from him. He responded a little later with the following:

“Kindly,  thoughts below…pls recognize that this is intellectual property and disclosure of this information in any manner is agreed to be upon mutual consent prohibited.”

I sent him a simple reply. “I haven’t read past the first sentence of this email and I’ve deleted the original from my email archive. I don’t sign NDAs and have no interest in having you unilaterally commit me to a confidentially agreement of any sort.”

Stuff like this just baffles me. I get some version of a strange interaction like this every few days. Last week it was the guy who had “flown to Denver just to meet me because I said that I’d meet with anyone.” After a dozen emails where I kept asking him to tell me what he was working on, he basically told me to go fuck off and I’d regret not meeting with him because he was going to create a great company and I was going to miss out.”

It’s weird. Advice to all of you out there – don’t be that guy. If I tell you I’m not interested, try to respect that. I’m trying to be respectful of you by passing quickly and not wasting your time. It has nothing to do with you – and I’m often wrong. But thrashing around with weirdness to try to get face to face isn’t helpful.

And yes – I’m having a much better day today now that I’m hiding in my room behind my computer.

  • Anonymous

    Kind of like dating.  If someone says no, stalking them and being rude can only convince them their initial decision was correct.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Yeah – no kidding. I haven’t dated in a long time but the analogy is perfect.

  • http://blog.gleep.org/ andrewwatson

    Wait, so what you’re saying is that I shouldn’t just fly to Denver and track you down and pitch you an idea on the sidewalk and assume it’s covered under NDA automatically?  

    Also, Y U NO INVEST?

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Good interpretation of my rant.

  • http://simplifilm.com/ Chris Johnson

    We get the same call asking for a free video for “goodwill” about twice a week.  We have yet to regret passing on anything.

  • http://twitter.com/RedRookDigital Red Rook Digital

    I’m not surprised it irks you. I think a lot of entrepreneurs overlook the fact that VCs are human beings. Sure they are brands, to a extent, but who would act like that to a stranger? Who would walk up to someone in the street, demand they sign an NDA before talking, and not understand it when the object of their misguided intentions freaks out?

  • Suzan B

    That guy is disrepectful. Good advice to all entrepreneurs. Don’t be *that* guy.

    And? Handled very deftly Brad.

  • Anonymous

    It’s great advice.  And I wish I’d learned it half way through my first company years ago – especially the “doesn’t fit our themes” part.

    I recently pitched an idea over email to a World Famous VC and *told* him that I didn’t fit his themes but that I thought he would love the idea and what I wanted from him was an introduction to someone who would get the idea and want to invest.  Basically I was asking for a power introduction.

    He got the idea (loved it, wrote me >1,000 words of suggestion and criticism) but declined to make introductions, with no reason given.  I didn’t get that.

    But I really really appreciated his feedback, so I put it in the “W” column.

    -XC

    • HealingThyme Products

      Umm, Cliff Elam/XC? maybe the more than 1000 words of suggestions and criticism was the introduction. Hmm idk, think that’s why they call them angels?

      http://Www.healingthymeproducts.com
      Would love to review ±1000 suggestions, criticism, ‘interest’, any day:-)

      Seriously,
      Zena Cole

  • http://twitter.com/rickg rick gregory

    Ah, you’re suffering from the VC version of http://slushpilehell.tumblr.com/

  • http://twitter.com/TomLabus Tom Labus

    What did they think they were going to show you some kind of magic trick?

    Two simple declarative sentences would have done them wonders.  

    It also doesn’t speak well for their management skills.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Some day I’ll see that magic trick but until then I totally agree – well said!

      • http://yoavlurie.com/ Yoav Lurie

        There is a second underlying point that these NDA-seekers all seem to miss: the value is in the execution, not in the idea. In “protecting their idea,” they demonstrate that they’re bad at executing. Even if they did show you an amazing magic trick, it would be while showing some other serious flaws. 

        • http://www.feld.com bfeld

          I often try to explain this. About 50% of the NDA seekers get this, about 50% don’t. Some get very offended that I might not think the idea is where all the value is. Those conversations tend to end quickly.

          • http://www.rentsavvy.com Mike

            Having moved from the finance world into the startup world, I get asked by many former colleagues whether they should ask investors to sign a NDA (they get mad when I laugh at them).

            Personally I’ve found that it’s the CFOs and “rich uncles” of the world that are telling young entrepreneurs never to do business with people that won’t sign an NDA.

        • http://twitter.com/TomLabus Tom Labus

          You could tell the world what you plan on doing and it doesn’t matter since to execute is a different ball game.

        • http://twitter.com/susan_silver Susan Silver

          This was going to be my comment well said.

          I find that if you keep your ideas to yourself you never find supporters. ideas need to breath,grow, and change. 

    • Michael Curreri

      This really is the point.  I am willing to give these guys the benefit of the doubt that they are not actually idiots.  But, as both a lawyer and a serial entrepreneur, I am certain that there is no practical reason to ever give confidential information in your initial description to a VC.  The inquiry at that point is simply not of that nature.  It is just inexperience at play.

  • Tyler Hartung

    I have really great comments to add, but you have to sign an NDA for me to post them…trust me…you will want to. They are awesome comments.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      HAH!

  • http://freepository.com John Minnihan

    Funny thing is – you’ve *written* abt this exact interaction a few times.  You + your partners have gone on record as saying (in Seth’s best low-down half-signing voice, hey) ‘We don’t do no NDAs’.

    The mind’s desire to believe ‘I’m different + thus the rules don’t apply’ is pretty fascinating.

  • http://www.samedaydr.com/ Richard Weisberger

    When are people going to understand that you are not in the business of stealing ideas? Maybe, an autoreply message, to all new emails, comprising the contents of your post? Better yet, bet them 5k for charity that you can find the same idea or an obvious motivation for developing the same idea elsewhere?

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I think the answer is “never”. Someone will always think that my job is to steal their idea. I’ve given up thinking anything different.

      • http://blog.gleep.org/ andrewwatson

        I get asked to sign NDAs by people just asking me for advice! My advice begins with:  

        Never ask someone to sign an NDA when you want advice or money from them.  Now, what was your question again? 

        hehe

  • http://twitter.com/yoavlurie Yoav Lurie

    Brad – Most of the time, your posts inspire me to get back to blogging. These (and the stalker ones) give me second thoughts. Crazy people.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Eh – blog! You’ve got lots to say. The crazy stuff is just part of the fun.

  • Josh

    Brad – I have a great business idea I’m working on and I know you’ll love it! Please recognize if you read past the first sentence of this comment you’ve automatically committed to funding.  I’ll send you our bank account info in a private email.

  • http://www.repeatablesale.com/ Scott Barnett

    Brad – your rant is missing one important fact – people like this guy do NOT read your blog or others like it – so they have no idea what the “best practices” are to engage.  On top of that, when you try to give them the basics, they still don’t get it. Doesn’t bode well for them in life in general, not just raising capital…

    I met somebody recently who was trying to start their own business and asked me what I thought their chances were of getting funded.  I saw them making some very basic “mistakes” and urged them to read a few books – including yours, 4 Steps to the Epiphany, Lean Startup.  Their response was “I’m really busy right now, but I’ll read those books AFTER I get my funding.”  I walked away chuckling…. they so totally didn’t get it – I was suggesting they read those books so that they had a CHANCE to get funded! :-)

    PS – surprised you haven’t updated your Twitter pic to STOP SOPA…..Fred Wilson blogged about it the other day, really easy to do - http://bit.ly/xj4mEX

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      My twitter picture should have the STOP SOPA on it – I updated it right away. Where are you seeing it where it doesn’t have it (if you look at http://www.twitter.com/bfeld it’s there).

      • http://www.repeatablesale.com/ Scott Barnett

        ah, then it’s just DISQUS… there’s an option to make your DISQUS picture the same as your Twitter picture, then it shows up in all your DISQUS comments too.  Go to your personal options in DISQUS to change it…

        • http://www.feld.com bfeld

          Ah – good suggestion.

  • http://www.eliainsider.com Elia Freedman

    There is one great thing about this: it makes me respect those who are polite, courteous and caring all the more! As I keep telling my five and three year old (over and over and over and over and over) it is the simple things in life, like saying please and thank you, that make all the difference in the world. (And, sadly, make you stand out.)

  • Anonymous

    I’m not crazy like that but are there any resources you would recommend about social aspect of business startup?

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I’m not sure what you mean by the “social aspect of business startups.”

      • Anonymous

        I mean how to manage relationship with others (investors, co-founders, employees, etc.) while starting new business.

        For example at what stage (idea, demo, beta…) founders should contact angel investors, and what to talk about and expect from them or do not?

        • http://www.alearningaday.com Rohan

          Care about your reputation? :)

          • Anonymous

            :) Not really! Just like to avoid mistakes or make less.

  • Marshallhughes

    Wow this sounds almost like a straight up scam.
    Guy meets with you and pitches truly terrible idea. You thank him for wasting your time. Later you sign up someone else who has something you are interested in that starts with the same letter of the alphabet as this original guy’s “idea.” He sues claiming you had agreed to NDA via e-mail or some sort but agrees to drop suit if you settle.
    I believe people like that are  why movie studios don’t even accept any script or package sent to them from someone not under contract. Too much risk.

  • Matthew M.

    You should be commended for having an investing thesis, sticking to it, and quickly and clearly telling an entrepreneur it is not a fit for you.

    So many VCs are the opposite: they don’t have a thesis (or it changes every 14 days – kind of like lemmings), they are so afraid of missing a deal that they drag out the diligence process because they don’t trust their judgement enough to make a timely decision, and then don’t give the entrepreneur thoughtful feedback on why they deal isn’t a fit (they say things like “It’s too early for us” or “we don’t like to lead early-stage deals” – all things they knew five minutes into the first meetig but instead they drag you through 4 – 5 meetings and then tell you that. Fun times.

  • http://twitter.com/SeanKilleen Sean Killeen

    Actually, thank you for this insight. I have several ideas which I’m working on narrowing and prototyping, and it’s helpful to know that if you’re nice enough to give people like that your time, then when it comes time for me to present things, I’m already ahead of the game (or at least ahead of the worst of the game).

  • http://www.venturestab.com Jerome Gentolia

    Kinda remind of of those kids who could not carry a tune auditioning for American Idol and getting really mad when they get booted! Ignorance and arrogance is not a good mix.

  • https://taskera.com/ Deboprio Ghosh

    Brad, i agree with you. i mean. i interacted with you last week by emails too. but i simply don’t understand when people (entrepreneurs) start showing  their displeasure in the wrong way.

    by the way really appreciate your feedback last week

    cheers,

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Thx.

  • http://www.alearningaday.com Rohan

    Mark had a great post on this – Don’t commit BSAK errors..
    http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/2011/09/20/dont-commit-bsak-errors-the-world-is-too-small/

    BSAK = Between seat and keyboard! :)

  • http://petegrif.tumblr.com/ Pete Griffiths

    A further confirmation of the incontrovertible statistical truth that most people are, by definition, average.
    Ranting is often emotionally helpful, but perhaps most satisfying is to dwell on the fact that much of the area under the curve is consumed by the average and a couple of standard deviations ‘to the left’.  Happily this leaves much needed opportunities for those who can ideate and execute ‘to the right.’

    :))

  • http://ideamensch.com Mario Schulzke

    Like you say, ideas are worthless – it’s all about the execution. If a guy can’t execute setting up a meeting or conversation, he isn’t going to to launch a successful venture. Good filter really. 

  • Alexander Close

    What about the other “that guy/girl”? That guy who did 10 mins of Google homework and figured if it’s even a good idea to be contacting X. That guy who graciously asks/thanks for a small window and gets down to business. That guy who smacks his prototype/demo/product on the table for all to experience, no NDA, no crap, no wasted time. That guy who wants the feedback, needs feedback, even the bad more than the good. That guy who realizes that raising financing is to find a person/group of people that see your vision and can/want to help you execute.  (This means you gotta show off your vision)
    THAT guy gets it done.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Agree! I love THAT guy/girl.

  • http://kpwriting.com/ copywriting career

    Two simple declarative sentences would have done them wonders. 

  • http://dissertationtoday.com/ dissertation writing

    great post!

  • Daniel Bradley

    I’m curious, how do you feel about documents marked Commercial-in-Confidence?

    Is there a better way to indicate the equivalent of: “Please don’t leave in a random coffee shop.”?

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Just put the note “don’t leave in a random coffee shop” on it. More importantly, if you think I’m the kind of person that would leave something like that in a random coffee shop, don’t send it to me!

  • http://www.softlayer.com Paul Ford

    I think this DOES fall in to one of your 2012 themes Brad – The one about not dealing with Assholes!
    Ha!!

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Well said.

  • http://about.me/brandonmarker Brandon Marker

    If you register on the creeper scale, good luck on getting funding. ever. 

    I am interested in the business idea now just for shits and giggs. I find those personalities very [normal] in the start-up world. Brad, you have reached a point that you do not get as many because of your status and success. I still see them on a fairly regular basis *lucky me*

    I immediately rate those approaches on a scale very near to con men. The “executive summaries” or whatever they want to call it that they provide are entertaining reads. 

  • Mstone

    What always surprises me is how few people realize how an NDA is really a worthless piece of paper.  Also, how long could a VC stay in business if they were in the habit of stealing (which by the way, is probably not even protected by the NDA) ideas from entrepreneurs.

    • Rob

      I agree except in the case of the black swan idea that truly is great. 

      Think of the VC situation – They may have 15 portfolio companies and many of them may not be performing. An entrepreneur pitches an awesome prototype that is fairly easy to replicate.

      If the entrepreneur passes on the investor, is the VC thinking “this would be great for a great team we have working on the wrong product” ? Look at groupon’s case when they came to SV looking for funding. In virtual stealth operating out of chicago, they showed their financials and all the VC’s started talking amongst themselves. This led to livingsocial’s inception. Financials disclosed in a VC meeting should never be divulged outside of the meeting and the fact that this highly unethical behavior is not chastised lets you know that trust can be sorely lacking.

      Like all good debates, there are shades of grey and a modicum of protection from the entrepreneur side is a good thing. What form that takes is up for debate.

      • http://www.feld.com bfeld

        Rob – are you certain that’s the Groupon / LivingSocial story? Both Groupon and LivingSocial started out with totally different businesses. Each had funding for something completely different. Both are classic examples of massive success after a “pivot.” I don’t think either is an example of “amazing idea that VCs passed around.” Furthermore, the “idea” of Groupon / LivingSocial is not that profound, but the execution in each case is what matters, as evidenced by the other 3517 daily deals businesses that have sprung up all over the world, some successful, some not.

        • Rob

          Hi Brad, I agree on your execution point and I understand that this was a pivot for livingsocial and hence my comment about investors looking for something to pivot into for underperfoming portfolio companies. This whole system has ingrained into it this constant pitting between ethical behavior and shareholder responsibility to LPs. 

          Are we to believe that slips of the tongue do not go on in the VC world? I am sure there are ethical investors and ones who are not but at the end of the day everyone is looking for a return on the money. It is too tempting for an investor to hear a great idea that may be getting a lot of isolated traction and “casually mention” it to their portfolio companies if they don’t get to invest. Some ideas totally rely on virtual stealth in the early days to get product market fit. 

          I am all for competition but I think it should at least happen post first mover advantage and not post investor meeting. This whole group think of speak loudly and out-execute is just not applicable in all cases. There is a lot of thought and effort that goes into getting a product market fit and the first mover should get the benefit of that.

          • http://www.feld.com bfeld

            I don’t know the Groupon/LivingSocial example in detail but the LS investors were not from the bay area until it was well known that both Groupon and LS were cranking (the early LS investors were east coast). So I just don’t think your example is correct.

            Some entrepreneurs believe that the idea is special and magical. If they believe that in their hearts they should pick the people they talk to very carefully. In my experience, very few entrepreneurs like this ever have success because the idea is actually not that special.

            But – everyone is entitled to their own opinion. And if you believe your idea is so special that it must be kept top secret no matter what and the idea belongs to you and you along regardless of the specifics of what you’ve thought about, the nuances of any modifications, and the lack of actual implementation you have when you share the initial concept before actually creating anything then that’s fine – just don’t approach me as a potential investor.

          • Rob

            I got the groupon/LS info from here. http://blog.eladgil.com/2011/04/is-stealth-mode-stupid.html 

            I agree with everything you have said. The only point I was really trying to make is that trust, in the absence of a NDA should be two way. I have read your blog for a while and read your books and I am sure you’re not one of these but lets face it, some VC’s are not as entrepreneur friendly as you are.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I explain this over and over and over again.

  • http://twitter.com/copyblogger Brian Clark

    Amazing. I see stuff like this all the time, and it baffles me as well.

    I think I have the opposite tendency. I was house hunting in Boulder last week, and I wanted to ask you what neighborhoods you liked, but figured I’d be hassling you.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      You should have written – I’m ALWAYS happy to help with stuff like this.

      • http://www.copyblogger.com/ Brian Clark

        Appreciate that.

  • Anonymous

    I heard Eric Reis say that if you are worried about someone stealing your idea, take one of your second best ideas and TRY to give it away. To test it, I recently emailed an abandoned idea to what would have been a competitor (if I had started the business).  I even sent him a slide with a diagram.  I couldn’t even get a reply.  Who has time to develop someone else’s idea?  I can’t do my own.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Excellent point and I love that quote from Eric.

  • http://twitter.com/vijayrnathan Vijay Nathan

    I can appreciate their ambition, but this is ridiculous.  If this is how they communicate with investors, I can only imagine how they communicate with their teams.

    On a related note, I’m wondering if your views on stealth mode / keeping things secret have changed at all since you wrote this post over a year ago? http://www.feld.com/archives/2010/04/new-thoughts-on-stealth-mode.html

  • http://buycentives.com/ Dave Goldschmidt

    UFB.  Do some people thing investors are just ATMs??

    Sorry it happens “every few days”.  That get’s old fast…

  • Mac

    Hi Brad

    After thinking about your thoughts on this overnight, I decided to post this in hopes that it might benefit a ‘wannabe’ entrepreneur.  You, along with your FG partners, Fred Wilson, David Cohen, Mark Suster, ‘et al’, have addressed this issue many times.  The frequency at which this occurs (every few days) is probably the most telling aspect of your justified rant.  The bottom line, people aren’t doing their homework.  Thus, they don’t get it.  I’m sure that many of us, who follow your posts, find their actions disrespectful: disrespectful of your time and your commitment to the entrepreneurial community.  So, please excuse me while I take the liberty to vent from my perspective, while addressing any would-be or want-a-meeting entrepreneur. 

    With just a little due diligence, anyone with an interest in communicating/meeting with Brad-or any Venture Capitalist-need only follow the steps that have been clearly laid out.  Venture Capitalists worth your time and effort to meet with: receive hundreds of request for meetings and/or business plans to review each month, can’t take every request for a meeting and thus have to have some built in filters and parameters, don’t sign NDA’s, already know that your idea is probably not as special, unique or world-changing as you think, are generally more interested in knowing more about the co-founders and/or your team, expect the courtesy of a scheduled ten to fifteen minute initial meeting, hope you have made an effort to get in the conversation if you’re new to their ecosystem, respect their time, executed, etc.  This will vary from one VC to another.  But they are some of the basic courtesies you should extend regardless. 

    Most Venture Capitalist at this level want to help you succeed and are willing to give you their time and input.  So, at least put in the time and effort it takes to get a meeting.  Iterate and pivot your preformative idea so that you’re ready to pitch it with passion.  And, if you can’t demonstrate the passion, the vision and mission you’re on, in this initial meeting, then you’re wasting everyone’s time.  Don’t abuse that privilege.  It is not a right.  Put all your cards on the table and welcome constructive criticism.  And, don’t forget, it’s equally important that they like you.  The kind of approaches Brad has described are not only disrespectful, but, unacceptable. 

    I’ve spent a lot of time following Brad, and, everyone mentioned above.  Never have I encountered individuals with their backgrounds and experience more committed to the entrepreneur’s success.  During that time, I’ve put as much effort into preparing to approach him for a meeting as I have in developing my idea.  Even with a ‘warm introduction’ it is important to give it the same amount of effort.  Furthermore, I feel that shortcuts, like those described in this post, have the potential to close doors for other serious entrepreneurs.  (However, their actions are probably a precursor of the shortcuts they will be willing to take in their start-ups)  Don’t think that this type of conduct goes unnoticed.  DO YOUR HOMEWORK.  BE CONSIDERATE.  GET SERIOUS.  

    Brad, thanks for all you do and for giving us a forum as well.  Keep ranting.  It’s good for your stress level and Fitbit numbers. 

    Mac (formerly of SayAhh.com before Dick and Jane pivoted)  :)
     

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Mac – thanks for the extensive rant – super helpful and right on target!

  • James Mitchell

    Brad, have you done a time analysis of your email? If you are getting a lot of emails like this that consume much time, you should have your assistant handle these and you will never even see these emails.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I’ve considered it but it’s not my style.

      • James Mitchell

        You measure pretty much everything in your life. How many minutes a day do you spend on emails that you don’t have to and which are a waste of time? If it’s 5 minutes a day, then no big deal. If it’s 45 minutes a day, then it is a big deal.

        • http://www.feld.com bfeld

          It’s a longer post (which I’m sure I’ve written pieces of) but I don’t view email as simply transaction. I immerse myself in the stream of information that I interact with on a continual basis. The tools for this are steadily getting better and the volume is immense, but I’m able to manage it very effectively. Adding in an additional human filter for this kind of stuff doesn’t drive any incremental efficiency, especially since I want to see it anyway. The stuff that does matter – for example – is doing ZERO scheduling and having Kelly handle 100% of it. Same with travel. And phone calls.

          • James Mitchell

            How about writing about the tools? I find email to be remarkably primitive from a workflow point of view; I could easily save an hour a day of my time if there were good workflow tools. And I probably get one-tenth the number of emails you get.

            The tools I am aware of are:

            Spam filters (which now do a pretty good job)
            Rules in Outlook/Exchange Server (primitive)
            Gmail’s improvments, such as sorting your emails by their calculation of how well you know someone

            Are there others?

            This really could be a good startup for someone — a product that takes email to the next level and looks at it from a workflow point of view. If someone wants to start such a company, I would be happy to spend a day with them for free telling them my thoughts. They can write me at jmitchell@abbingtonpartners.com.

          • http://www.feld.com bfeld

            Gmail is transformative. I know you’ve stated you’ll never leave Outlook so you are stuck there.

            I then use OtherInBox aggressively to filter out all the non-critical stuff.

          • James Mitchell

            Funny you should mention Gmail, just an hour ago I finished reading this article:

            http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/11/hacked/8673/

            and I was thinking to myself, “I am so glad I do not use Gmail.”

            Let’s assume you believe as I do that following David Allen’s Getting Things Done methadology is the only intelligent way to live. One of the key GTD approaches is a zero inbox. That way, the only emails that are your inbox are ones you need to pay attention to. (I manage to achieve this about 75 percent of the time. I try not to go to bed until my inbox is zero.) Can you have a zero inbox with Gmail? What does one do, tag everything and move each email to archive? I find it so much easier to just move an email to a folder.

            If Gmail would simply implement folders (how much developer time could this take, a man-year at most?) it would be such a better package.

            With Outlook, I am working with a client application, as opposed to a Web application. No matter how clever Google’s programmers are with Ajax, it’s not the same as a what a programmer can do with a client app. For example, I just logged into one of the dummy Gmail accounts I have. I see about 30 email messages. The only way to see what it is the message is to open the damm email. (In addition, most people write lousy subject lines.) With Outlook, I have the reading pane turned on. I like to have the subject lines at the top and the message at the bottom, but if one prefers, one can have the message on the right. I also have a 27 inch monitor so the reading pane works really nicely. Can Gmail do this? 

            This topic can be emperically tested. Pick one who knows Gmail well and one guy who knows Outlook well. Watch each of them process 500 emails a day for one month. I am certain the Outlook guy would win.

            OtherInbox looks interesting. What is their revenue model?

          • http://www.feld.com bfeld

            I saw the Atlantic article also. Ironically, this isn’t a Gmail issue – Gmail was just at the core. We invested in Spanning to directly address the backup issue (it’s easy and inexpensive from a user perspective) I have many examples of other accounts being hacked. And I’ve also seen entire Exchange email stores get corrupted. I’m sure we could have an endless religious argument about this – I’ll never convince you that I’m right and you’ll never convince me that you are right.

            Two specifics:

            Re: the reading pane – you can get this using the Gmail offline version. However, the way I use Gmail, where I’m in read mode all the time, I never see the headers since I just go from one email to the next until I am done. I label if necessary. I archive after each Gmail. It’s then dealt with and gone. David Allen would be proud.

            Re: zero inbox. When you archive, it goes out of the inbox but is still around (easily searchable) and, if labelled, tagged with the label. I find it much easier to be at zero inbox in Gmail than I did with Outlook.

            Finally, regarding your test. I used Outlook for over a decade. I’ve used Gmail for a year. My email processing with Gmail is much faster.

          • James Mitchell

            You are an experienced user of both Outlook and Gmail, but you are also a VC. VC’s brains are wired to be biased in favor the new, since VCs are fascinated with new and new is something you might fund and make a zillion dollars from. Every VC I know is heavily biased in favor of web apps. Because of their bias, they cannot recognize that so many web apps totally suck.

            One of my rules for IT policy is: “Look at what all the VC firms are doing and then do the opposite. You will be pretty close to the right answer.”

          • http://www.feld.com bfeld
          • http://www.lcmsplus.com/ Allison

            I agree, Brad – even as I hear that “email is so 2010″, I still rely on it as my main communication tool. What jumped out at me was your admission that you gave this guy the benefit of so many responses. Tells me a lot about the kind of help you care about providing to your portfolio co’s. But these bozos can’t realize how generous you’ve already been with them. Not sure I could be quite so generous of spirit after Bozo #127 or so… :)

          • http://www.feld.com bfeld

            I always try. Sometimes I fail to make any progress.

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  • Anonymous

    I totally agree Brad. That is annoying. Is the same feeling that I have when VCs / Angels only ask “execution” questions (real data, facts, etc)…. the first time you meet.

  • http://twitter.com/iKEOrizu iKE Orizu

    Lovely post sir, and I do totally agree with you. I own a startup myself for African musicians, and I know how I feel when they send me messages saying we must look into putting their music on our platform.

    So I avoid disturbing VCs a lot, I just pray and hope that after a tweet or Angellist post they can see. But will like to know, how should we go about it and when does persistence turn into disturbance for the VC

  • http://twitter.com/josh_m_watkins Joshua Watkins

    I often refer to that as “people being people.”  Some are just weirder than others.

    My other favorite is the the “where’s my check” syndrome.

  • Katy

    Why do I feel the urge to comment? Can’t tell you as that is my private info. Go ahead and stay in your office but move to another location please as a drone may have been sent out to blow up your computer. We produce gaming software but don’t need any VC funds…you can thank me later..

  • Michael Mosby

    It seems to me they are trying to act like they know business by starting with something No one would even get near until some type of relationship had started. Now if indeed its a great idea and the person wants it covered mail it to himself and its done proof of ownership is the best means of keeping anything.

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