Andy Weissman

Andy Weissman

Partner at Union Square Ventures

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON December 01, 2015

Discussion

Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
Hi - I'm Andy Weissman of Union Square Ventures. I have been in the venture and internet business for about 15 years, so happy to talk about the olden days or the present or about music, books or culture, please ask me anything you want
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
@aweissman What are the 3 best and worst things working in Venture Capital?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@bentossell best: constant stimulation, great people, never ever boring. Worst: constant stimulation, LONG time till you know when your investments decisions work out, and the uncertainty
Diego Rodriguez
Diego Rodriguez@metacool · Partner, IDEO
@aweissman @bentossell can you say more about "constant stimulation" and why it is one of the worst parts of the role?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@metacool @bentossell I find one of the downsides is just not having enough time to reflect, think, daydream. The constant activity can get in the way. As a friend of mine one said, sometimes life gets in the way of living
Julien Genestoux
Julien Genestoux@julien51 · Founder, Superfeedr
@aweissman @bentossell Good one: I *hate* very large feedback loops...
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
@aweissman Thanks for joining us today. During your career to date, what is the best piece of advice you've ever been given? Flip side - what's the worst?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@ems_hodge best: it's not where you start, but where you end. Worst advice: don't ever have regrets
Ryan Hoover
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Welcome, Andy! Your partner at USV, @fredwilson, recently wrote a piece about the opportunity in building a business based on lists. This topic is particularly interesting to me because Product Hunt is essentially a collection of lists. What's your take on this? Who's doing it well and what areas of discovery or search are most ripe for improvement?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@rrhoover I feel like the transformative list product will be one that isnt about lists explicitly ....In other words, lists are a utility. Maybe hard to emotionally connect with people around that
Harry Stebbings
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
@aweissman as you know andy, I and @twentyminutevc are massive fans of yours, my question is what element of USV do you think has made you the go to place for smart money in NYC? Also, Kickstarter as an investment? How does that payoff when they have no exit strategy according to @ystrickler by the way would absolutely love to have you on @twentyminutevc in the future!!
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@harrystebbings I think we are nice people and are known for sticking with companies throughout their lives. Kickstarter will figure things out I am sure, and we are patient
Jeff Tierney
Jeff Tierney@jeffreytierney · Software Engineer, Spring
Is a dream a lie if it don't come true? Or is it something worse?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@jeffreytierney only if you waste your summer praying in vain
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Hey Andy! Thanks for joining us. What's something you used to fundamentally believe that you now see as misguided?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@eriktorenberg what a heady question. I used to believe some things were black or white but now see everything is somewhere in between
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to yourself when you were just starting out in the venture business?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@eriktorenberg embrace extreme uncertainty
Kunal Tandon
Kunal Tandon@kunaltandon · kunaltandon.com
@aweissman can you give some insight into all the different hats you wear as a VC- how much of your time goes into meeting with potential investments, recruiting for existing portfolio companies, working with struggling portfolio companies, etc?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@kunaltandon I've never thought about this but I know realize I should. I would say 30% new investments 70% existing companies but as a firm we each are (and I certainly am) am close to capacity. Also, it does seem that more time is spent with companies that are still getting their footing than ones that that are in the groove
Jonathan Libov
Jonathan Libov@libovness · I can lift 100 lbs. right over my head
@aweissman What thing or trend in tech have you been most confident would come about but never did? Put otherwise, what trend were you the most wrong about?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@libovness As Jeff Spicoli said "I know that dude!" Most confident that didnt - the primacy of instant messaging and IM bots. Been wrong about too many to count . . .
Diego Rodriguez
Diego Rodriguez@metacool · Partner, IDEO
@aweissman What are some non-software products that you really love?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@metacool the blank cassette tape :) and the NYC subway
Kate
Kate@katesegrin · Head of Social @ GitHub
Who are some of the people that have had the greatest impact on your life?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@katesegrin this is a hard question to answer bc some of those i do not want to name and the impact they had was also in not what to do
Whitney McNamara
Whitney McNamara@whitneymcn · Amateur. Enthusiast.
At this particular point in time, best Scarlet -Fire?
Whitney McNamara
Whitney McNamara@whitneymcn · Amateur. Enthusiast.
@whitneymcn Though riffing on the significance of the Dead as a business would be acceptable, too.
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@whitneymcn I am partial always to 5 8 77 but this summer was under the notion that 3 22 90 could be the one
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@whitneymcn so what about this - maybe something all startups should strive for is, as Garcia said: to be like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice.
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
Have you had any mentors in your career? If so who :) and how did they guide you?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@ems_hodge interestingly (or not), the best mentors I have ever had didn't even know they were my mentors! And was simply guided by seeing behavior that made me think "that's how I should be acting"
Jeff Tierney
Jeff Tierney@jeffreytierney · Software Engineer, Spring
Who plays Andy Weissman in a movie about the NY tech world?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@jeffreytierney one can only hope that movie never gets made. That being said, I would like to play Abbie Hoffman in a movie about him
Ty Danco
Ty Danco@tydanco · Angel investor
Best beer, and favorite Phish tune?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@tydanco HEADY, Reba. Yours?
Ty Danco
Ty Danco@tydanco · Angel investor
@aweissman @tydanco The one that is in front of me(hopefully Heady Topper) and YEM.
neeharika sinha
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
Hello @aweissman Favorite recent new music artist? How do you see the startup landscape changing in the next 5 years?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@neeeharika hello! new artist: Circles Around the Sun. Start up landscape will be interesting and more robust but also different. Feels like there used to be: startups and incumbents, and the metaphor for the former was fast and nimble and for the latter was slow and unwieldy. But now: the incumbents are .. . . Google, FB etc. Also the more traditional "old media" incumbents know what's going and are trying and in some cases doing this as well. And, to top it all off - alternative fundraising and crowdfunding platforms as a new channel for startups to help grow etc. Net net: gonna be interesting
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
Well this was really fun and fast paced enough that I couldn't multi-task! Thanks alot everyone
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
@aweissman What are some of your most recommended books?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@bentossell Steve Martin, Born Standing Up. Lethem - Fortress of Solitude. And of course, On the Road
Heath W. Black
Heath W. Black@heathwblack
@aweissman @bentossell YESSSS!!!! There are two quotations from that book that I think about almost daily: “Thankfully, persistence is a great substitute for talent.” “Despite a lack of natural ability, I did have the one element necessary to all early creativity: naïveté, that fabulous quality that keeps you from knowing just how unsuited you are for what you are about to do.”
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@ettinger · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
Which product in USV's portfolio do you wish everyone on Product Hunt knew about? Bonus: I lived in Union Square when interning @ApolloJets. Favorite restaurant in that area?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@andrewmettinger the one I wished everyone knew about is the term sheet we signed the other week - soon enough though. Fav rest: the falafel guy on 16th street
Jonathan Pan
Jonathan Pan@notvert · Marketing Lead, Amazon Game Studios
@aweissman How does the concept of the "no stack startup" that you wrote about earlier this year live in a world of closing APIs?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@notvert what a great question. I hope APIs dont close and competition would suggest that as some close more open up
Eddie Wharton
Eddie Wharton@eawharton · Data Scientist, Dinner Lab
Hey Andy! USV is known for sharing / iterating on your thesis in public. A lot of that comes from blogging. Fred blogs every day and I've never read anything by John. You fall somewhere in the middle on blog post frequency, but you tackle large abstract topics. How did you find the cadence and style of blogging you prefer?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@eawharton Fred is in beast mode about blogging. it is just amazing. Honestly, I struggle with finding my right cadence and also still feel like anything I have to say runs the risk of sucking
Kate
Kate@katesegrin · Head of Social @ GitHub
What were some of the most pivotal moments in your personal life and career? (Stories, please!)
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@katesegrin 1996 as a favor to someone I went on an interview at a company I knew little about. I did this just to even the score with this friend as I owed him a favor. That company was AOL and the moment I walked into that office I knew I wanted to work there even though I wasnt sure what they did. I knew this bc everyone was (a) my age or younger and (b) was wearing t shirts and shorts and I was in a suit. I got the job . . . . changed my career totally
Ben Stern
Ben Stern@benstern0 · Product @Dropbox
What do you foresee as the future of NYC as a startup ecosystem, particularly as it compares to the Bay Area's future?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@benstern0 NYC has so much to offer people that is different than anywhere else. So NYC will thrive with that - or parts of that - at its core. It is not the gravitational center that SV is however and never will be. It's different
John Coghlan
John Coghlan@john_cogs · Evangelist @ GitLab
What are the communities you belong to that you find most stimulating, interesting, rewarding?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@john_cogs there are some old school music communities that are active even after 10-15 years that I hang out in. Then, a bunch of r/ communities (r/NYC is my latest one).
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@john_cogs and of course r/phish and r/gratefuldead!
John Coghlan
John Coghlan@john_cogs · Evangelist @ GitLab
@aweissman @john_cogs fun to think about (i'm assuming you mean) online communities that are 10-15 years old and how they've survived the changes of the web landscape of the last decade. proof that the people are more important than the platform? will communities emerging now have that same saying power? what do One Direction fan groups need to do to still be a thing in 2030?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@john_cogs this is a great question. One could submit that media - broadly defined to cover communities - is more transitory than permanent. So if so then .. ..
Brian Shultz
Brian Shultz@brianlshultz
Hi Andy -- thanks for taking the time to answer questions today. I recently read a post by @msuster about what to do when a competitor raises a big round and wanted to get your insight on how to navigate such a situation. What common patterns of success/failure have you witnessed?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@brianlshultz this is a great question. Here is how I think about it - one needs to strive to be not the best at what you do, but instead be the only ones who do what you do (paraphrase of a Bill Graham quote). In that way, if you can get that, it matters less about what any competitor does.
Diego Rodriguez
Diego Rodriguez@metacool · Partner, IDEO
How do you go about helping your portfolio companies develop their own specific process for making great decisions?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@metacool I know this is lame to do but I have thought about this alot: http://blog.aweissman.com/2015/0...
Diego Rodriguez
Diego Rodriguez@metacool · Partner, IDEO
@aweissman @metacool Yep! That's one of my favorite blog posts. I go back to that one over and over.
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@metacool thank you
Diego Rodriguez
Diego Rodriguez@metacool · Partner, IDEO
What makes for a good board meeting? A bad one?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@metacool my favorites are the one's that a few of our companies do: materials sent in advance, then first 45 min of board meeting has the board and the whole senior team and the board members can ask any questions they want from the materials, but there is no presentation of them. If there are no questions (or we haven't read the materials - then this session can end after 5 minutes!). And after that, 2+ hours on 3 topics that the CEO has decided she wants to discuss
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@ettinger · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
What skills from past experiences have most helped your career in VC?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@andrewmettinger so here is what is kind of interesting. I have always though that one of the wildest things about this business is, in a word, it's lack of institutional memory. That is, willingness to try things even when history would suggest something else. This obvs can also be frustrating. So, how does one balance experience with, say, beginner's mind. All that being said, I know the times when I learned the most (or, had the steepest learning curve) was when I had no idea what I was doing
Anup Gosavi
Anup Gosavi@_anupg · Building Spext.co
Curious to hear your thoughts on the future of mobile browser. With new tech (Polymer.js, app streaming etc) , do you think it will make a comeback?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@_anupg I hope it does it for no other reasons than monocultures are bad in agriculture and all other places, so any diversity of experiences or access is good
Neil Wehrle
Neil Wehrle@neilw · UX at Perch and Samsung Accelerator
Manhattan vs. Brooklyn?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@neilw "I was born in NYC and thus ruined for anyplace else"
ilan abehassera
ilan abehassera@ilan · Co-Founder, COO at Willo ✨
Hey Andy, as an investor, what are your views on the reminiscence of Hardware?
Andy Weissman
Andy Weissman@aweissman · stuff
@ilan I dont know enough to be able to opine on hardware specifically. But for example through my experience with Circle Up it does seem like new consumer products are being built and doing so successfully, all the time. Alot is up for grabs