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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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Relationships Matter – A Lot

Comments (25)

It blows my mind how many people think they can treat entrepreneurs and other investors poorly and think that it won’t come around to negatively impact them some time in the future.

I had two interactions last week with companies around a particular VC investor.  I’ve worked with them in the past and had a crummy experience.  I have a “fuck me once” rule where I’ll always give someone a second chance, but I’m wary and – if I have a second bad experience – I’m done.

When this VC came up in the first conversation, I couched my feedback with the appropriate disclaimers (e.g. “it might have just been me.”)  Interestingly, several other people around the table expressed much stronger negative feelings about this particular investor.  I noted that.

When this VC came up in a discussion later in the week, I stated my feedback and echoed the feedback I had heard from earlier in the week (keeping the names of the people involved appropriately confidential.)  Interestingly, the negative feedback was reinforced by another person in the meeting.

Now, I’m sure some people out there think I’m a dunderheaded lummox who occasionally takes leave of his senses, makes a mistake, or let’s someone down.  But – when I do – I try really hard to own up to it and apologize for it.  In both of these cases the VC in question behaved poorly and trashed at least five direct relationships.  There were at least a dozen key people involved in the various discussions that this VC will interact with again in the future.  My guess is that a dozen people have little to no interest in engaging with this VC.

Remember – the smell of shit can linger for a long time especially if you don’t clean it up.

  • Tim Stephens

    Brad,
    Great observation. This matters in customer-supplier relationships, employer-employee relationships, even in families. After all, the kids pick the parents nursing homes, don't they? It all goes back to The Golden Rule, but as some people become successful, they think that this rule does not apply to them. Just because you "can", it doesn't mean that you "should".

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/dudumimran dudumimran

    In my eyes nothing else matters.

    People who are bigger then life are those who treat you with respect, always, regardless of their message to you. There is an ancient biblical saying (in a quick hebrew to english translation): The slave to rule as a king – and it means that only people who are slaves at heart become vicious rulers when they have the chance to grab power; and those who are kings at heart stay humble regardless of their position.

    Dudu

  • Brenden

    In my experience I’ve found two very distinct types of VCs. As an entrepreneur it’s evident within the first two minutes of the meeting.

    There is the one type who wants you to feel like you are sitting in the presence of kings. People who are MUCH smarter than you. People who you would be SO LUCKY to have the PRIVILAGE to wok with. I imagine those are the type this post is about. They love themselves and their firm a lot more than any entrepreneur they invest in.

    Then there is the other type. These people are genuinely excited to hear the idea, not because it could bring them a 10x return, but because they might be a part of something important. They are inspired by visionary entrepreneurs and generally will help them succeed whether or not there is an investment made. They are team players, and the type of partners any entrepreneur would want. They care about their portfolio companies and entrepreneurs a lot more then they care about their own firm.

    It’s amazing how I see this division time after time. And it’s hard to imagine the first group can continue to exist.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bmull Brenden

      By the way, I posted that with my iPhone and I have to say, commenting was really clunky .. Does anyone know a better way to comment on blogs using the iPhone?

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld Brad Feld

        I think that’s a function of my commenting system (Intense Debate). Given that they are part of WordPress, they might get better integration with WordPress’ iPhone app soon.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/bmull Brenden Mulligan

          Cool. Thanks. I figured I was missing something ..

        • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/bmull Brenden Mulligan

          Cool. Thanks. I figured I was missing something .. and i just started an intense debate account which should help too

  • http://www.managingmagic.com D.G.

    Great post. A reminder that we are all constantly managing our personal brands.

  • Jon Van V.

    Power Corrupts.

    Some kids excessively tug on the puppy's leash, other kids don't even need the leash to get the puppy to do what they want.

    I have worked for/with some scum bags who let what they do define them, and as a result act accordingly. Also, as a result I no longer work for them. I take pity on those type. They need to realize that they are greater than the many because of, and not despite, them.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/PhilSugar PhilSugar

    Brenden you I agree with you completely it really is pronounced and easy to discern. I believe its the result of how you view money.

    If money is your god, you view money as power, and therefore its natural to feel you have money you are the king, the person asking for money is serf.

    The other view is that you are part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and your role just happens to be investing money.

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/PhilSugar PhilSugar

    Brenden I agree with you completely it really is pronounced and easy to discern. I believe its the result of how you view money.

    If money is your god, you view money as power, and therefore its natural to feel you have money you are the king, the person asking for money is serf.

    The other view is that you are part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and your role just happens to be investing money.

  • http://www.siliconangle.com John Furrier

    Bravo Brad. Small blog post with big meaning. Life's a marathon and relationships matter.

  • http://www.lets-do-diy.com/Projects-and-advice/Concrete-work/Laying-concrete-outdoors.aspx Dave

    After all, the kids pick the parents nursing homes, don't they? It all goes back to The Golden Rule, but as some people become successful, they think that this rule does not apply to them. Just because you "can", it doesn't mean that you "should".

    Cheers!
    Laying concrete outdoors

  • Fused connection

    well…i think that it has SOMETHING to do with it. im a virgo and my horoscope sign is described as being a perfectionist, intelligent, and very romantic (to name a few) and yes i describe myself very romantic. sometimes i can be such a dreamer and cheesy lol…o and the horoscope signs that go with me are taurus, and capricorn…although, im open to others.

    Best wishes
    Fused connection unit

  • Fused connection

    well…i think that it has SOMETHING to do with it. im a virgo and my horoscope sign is described as being a perfectionist, intelligent, and very romantic (to name a few) and yes i describe myself very romantic. sometimes i can be such a dreamer and cheesy lol…o and the horoscope signs that go with me are taurus, and capricorn…although, im open to others.

    Best wishes
    Fused connection unit

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    Type your comment here.well…i think that it has SOMETHING to do with it. im a virgo and my horoscope sign is described as being a perfectionist, intelligent, and very romantic (to name a few) and yes i describe myself very romantic. sometimes i can be such a dreamer and cheesy lol…o and the horoscope signs that go with me are taurus, and capricorn…although, im open to others.

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