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I’ve known Fred since the first day I started working with Mobius (called Softbank at the time). My very first Softbank-related meeting was to do due diligence at a company outside Boston called Yoyodyne and I met Fred, Charley Lax, and Seth Godin (the Yoyodyne CEO / founder) in Yoyodyne’s office (I kept looking for John Bigboote in the office but couldn’t find him.) Neither Fred nor I knew each other (nor did we know the other was going to be there), but I remember an immediate first impression about five minutes into the meeting of “smart dude.” Fred went on to start his first venture fund (Flatiron Partners), invest in Yoyodyne (with Softbank – which had a happy ending as Seth sold it to Yahoo! for a bundle well after he had no hair), and build a very successful NY-based venture fund with his partner Jerry Colonna.
Fred and I shortly discovered that we were both MIT grads and I recall one of our first long discussions on a wonderfully warm Boston night as we wandered from dinner in the Back Bay back to our hotel somewhere talking about MIT, getting to know each other, and laughing about how crazy busy things were (this was 1997). I worked closely with Fred and Jerry on a handful of companies (eShare – big success, abuzz – solid success, Mainspring – got our money back, Appgenesys – big failure, Return Path – success in progress) and adore both of them.
I’ve had the pleasure of working very closely with Fred over the past four years on Return Path – which we became investors in together when we merged an early stage company Fred had funded (Return Path) with an early stage company I had funded (Veripost). Return Path and Veripost were direct competitors, were both pre-revenue, and were the only two companies that had been funded to create “email change of address” systems. Fred and I had one of those “duh” moments and worked closely with the management teams to combine forces early, rather than pummel each other before the market matured. Matt Blumberg – the CEO of Return Path – has done an awesome job building the business and I’m extremely proud of the company Matt and his team have created (and hopefully Matt’s happy with the “help” that Fred and I have provided along the way.)
While I know Brad Burnham less well than Fred, having never worked with him, I watched Fred work with his partner Jerry Colonna and see Brad as another perfect foil for Fred. As the cliche goes – “every great partnership starts with two people” – and Fred and Brad seem like a superb fit.
Congrats Fred and Brad!