• June 8, 2017

Unfiltered Chat on the State of the Tech Community

Unfiltered Chat on the State of the Tech Community

I had a quick chat with local Twitter activist, founder and angel investor Phil Beauregard on the state of the tech community. I’m publishing our chat (hint: about some upcoming features) because I’m still not satisfied with the response. Phil is far more optimistic than I am.

Check out our convo and if you’re interested in chatting, send me an invite, and I’ll group us all together for a debate.

Morning. The weather is driving me nuts but to be honest feels synonymous with the mood of the tech community. Boston seems a little quiet right now in terms of startup buzz and attractive deals. It almost feels like the community is waiting for something that hasn’t come yet (the sun?). Curious to hear your thoughts and what you are seeing.
10:56 am
Accepted by Phil yesterday
It felt like that for a good while for me, but believe it or not I’m not only anecdotally seeing a bit of an uptick in the quality of seed companies starting to come out for a raise, but also have done 3 deals in the past month myself – which is abnormal.
11:09 am
Ebbs and flows, sin waves, etc. I think that’s the nature of the business. I will tell you that a lot of my institutional friends are looking west and to NYC as they expand their presence disproportionately outside of the Greater Boston area. I think it’s only normal that they diversify and go to where the fish are running…but I’d still like to see more of the local VCs keep their focus on cultivating our local environment.
11:12 am
Lastly, we *need* more 250M+ funds that write 3-5M checks. Period. Easier said than done, but I feel like the whole pissing on fire hydrants seed strategy is beyond saturated here.
11:13 am
Rumor has it that a lot of funds are actively recruiting new partners right now – in and outside of Boston as well. Does that mean we could see more of those sized funds – more partners = bigger fund size?
11:14 am
Or perhaps a changing of the tide as GPs retire, new blood gets brought in, but fund structure, dynamics, etc don’t change?
11:15 am
Side note to venture – but the other thing that really boosted the community in the past was events, dinners, happy hours, office parties, etc. I have seen a lot less of those. Now to be honest, that’s a good thing because people are actually doing work, but for networking, community, buzz, chance, encounters, etc we NEED these types of events back. And not shitty salesy events but genuine, let’s talk tech and drink a beer/wine spritzer/whatever.
11:18 am
I doubt the bigger fund size, but I don’t doubt the recruitment….everyone has been talking about fresh blood being needed for a while, and I think that it’s snowballing as they all see their brethren bring on new, exciting folks. VC can be a bit of a follow-the-leader business to put it euphemistically. So there’s that. Money hasn’t stopped flowing into VC and PE as much as I thought it would (quite the opposite), so more $$$ equals more deals and/or more partners investing in more geographies.
11:19 am
On the fund size standpoint, I’ve yet to see a trend in an upticks as far as fund size goes….quite the opposite. You’re seeing a lot of funds stand pat (outside of a select few like Bolt, but that was more of a “we’ve succeeded in our experiment, let’s scale a bit” play).
11:20 am
But more money right now is not necessarily equaling more deals – VCs are raising record level fund sizes but deal volume is actually decreasing (stock piling for winter?). So says Pitchbook and the likes. But it should be the other way around because like you say – more money historically meant more deals.
11:20 am
The events commentary is tough for me to feel viscerally tied to, as I’m becoming an old man with an already-burgeoning network. I can hardly keep up as it is evaluating deals, helping companies, working on my own stuff. So I eschew most events at this point. However, I did cut my teeth as a fresh-faced rube when I was first getting started and “growing up” with my cohort of operators, so I agree the events are super vital and are a much-needed breeding ground for innovation and connectivity.
11:23 am
More money will 100% mean more deals
11:24 am
Funds have a mandate to spend the money they raise eventually, or they have to return it to LPs….which will obviously never happen 🙂
11:24 am
Agree on the events 100%, but the future of the tech community lies in the younger, recent grads 10-20 years behind us. These young folk need the same vibrancy that we had as we grew up and met our current networks.
11:30 am
I credit most of my success to a few formative years of networking with the right people from around 2008-2011. And I hope that is still the case for folks.
11:31 am
Earlier you said you just invested in an abnormal amount of deals. Where do you attribute this uptick? Anything new or standard networking and luck of the draw?
11:37 am
Agreed on the events point as well. Network is everything. That’s part of what makes Boston so special: everyone seems to genuinely want to help.
12:16 pm
Can’t attribute the uptick in investments on my end. I just find it ebbs and flows.
12:16 pm