Stupid Things I Wish I Had Never Said – The Bowling Quote

Ross Wehner – a new writer for the Denver Post – had a nice article in the paper this weekend titled Colorado high-tech industry shows some signs of revival. There’s been some perception in Colorado that we got hit harder than other states – primarily due to our emphasis on telecomm – although I think Colorado has experienced roughly the same tech dynamics (boom – bust – normal renewal) that other states have seen.

Ross quoted me a few times. When he called to fact check, he said “hey – I ran across this quote from 2000 about bowling – can I use it?” I told him I wish people would forget about it, but it was fair game since I’d said it and it had been printed. I explained to him that the quote was intended to emphasize that people are my highest order sort when I evaluate an investment (e.g. if I don’t like the people, forget it), but that it had been repeated so many times as to have lost its focus. The quote that’s getting repeated is:

Back in the go-go days of the dot-com boom, Feld used to evaluate the people he was funding by taking them bowling. “The reason I chose bowling is because it’s a stupidly absurd sport,” he remembers saying. “You don’t sweat, you wear funny shoes, you usually eat cheesy nachos and then (you) stick your hand in a heavy ball.”

The quote certainly qualified as pithy and memorable since it resulted in me being the recipient of a bowling ball with my name engraved on it, free passes to a variety of bowling events (with the entrepreneurs who wanted to pitch me), an occassional pre-meeting lunch of bad nachos, an a variety of other bowling related items (I have a really nice velour shirt with my name on it.) And NO, I’m not a particularly good bowler, nor do I like bowling very much.

However, I think it’s a bad quote because it doesn’t capture the essense of what I was trying to say, which was “When I evaluate a new investment, the highest level filter for me is the people. Once I get interested in someone, I like to do something unusual with them to get to know them better. Bowling is one of those things …” You get the picture.