Hunter Walk

Investor at Homebrew. Previously made products at YouTube, Google and Second Life.

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON October 07, 2015


Hunter Walk@hunterwalk · Partner, Homebrew
Hi! You might know me from such social networks as Twitter (@hunterwalk) and, well, Twitter. I'm here to answer questions you may have about funding things (I cofounded seed stage venture fund Homebrew), making things (I used to work at YouTube, Google, Second Life), raising things (I'm a dad) and whatever else you think I might have a point of view about (POV not guaranteed). Let's do this!
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Hunter Walk@hunterwalk · Partner, Homebrew
@rrhoover Ryan, tsk tsk, you know the answer to that already.... yes (i kid, i kid)
jamestodd@jamestodd · Serial encourager and delighter
@rrhoover I love you people.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Sorry, I think I just derailed this chat. 😁
Josh Dickson@joshdickson40 · Founder @ Syrah
@rrhoover SLJ is a little busy running those two public/almost public companies right now (this is a joke don't email me)
Jack Smith@_jacksmith · Serial Entrepreneur & Startup Adviser
Hi Hunter. Two other VCs; Bill Gurley and Marc Andreessen have been open about their distaste for each other. Ben Horowitz says that Gurley once advised him to cut Andreesen out of their company. You seem like someone who would be hard to dislike. Have you made any enemies during your career, or heard of anyone disparaging you behind your back? - If so, how have you handled such situations?
Hunter Walk@hunterwalk · Partner, Homebrew
@_jacksmith oh, i'm sure there are people who disagree with me to the point of disliking me. I actually don't have any problem with that so long as people are upfront about it and open to me trying to understand why we've reached that point. The only thing I can't stand are grinfuckers - people who smile at you and then talk shit behind your back. I think that usually comes from weakness and self-doubt so it's best to let those people just burn themselves out than make too big a deal about it. But if i felt like it was impacting my ability to get my job done or based on false statements, I'd confront them about it.
Drew@_vriesman · Purveyor of new products
@hunterwalk @_jacksmith borrowing "grinfuckers"!
Corey Rabazinski@coreyrab · I help companies with online advertising
Hi Hunter! You've mentioned YouTube's place in today's world a few times on Twitter. If you were still working there today, what one feature or product-direction would you champion?
Paul Robert Cary@prcary · CEO, Findie |
@coreyrab Great Q!
Hunter Walk@hunterwalk · Partner, Homebrew
@coreyrab it's really hard to go to and have any idea of what's going on in the world right now. there's no watercooler aspect to it - what are people watching, discussing? i'd focus on that aspect and trying to give people a reason to come back to the site multiple times/day
Nathan Bashaw@nbashaw · Head of Product at Gimlet Media
Who illustrated your snazzy avatar?
Hunter Walk@hunterwalk · Partner, Homebrew
@nbashaw i'll never tell you! (an artist in Ohio)
Mike Rosengarten@smasher5 · founder @ unknown
Phillip Yang@geekyyang
You're active on Twitter, and love engaging with others. I remember seeing you do a GIF/meme battle with Jason Calacanis before and loved it. Do you enjoy sessions like that? And, what's the best advice you can give to entrepreneurs/founders in utilizing Twitter?
Hunter Walk@hunterwalk · Partner, Homebrew
@geeky_yang yup, love The Twitter. I do enjoy a little back and forth joking/sparring/debate but tend to not get into arguments or the 30 minute long sessions where everyone ends up talking past each other. For me it's quick hits of engagement - I use Nuzzel and Pocket to find/save content that I want to read later. re: utilizing Twitter, sometimes people get encouraged to be outrageous or controversial because that gets a reaction. Don't. Just be yourself. And if you're really trying to get someone to notice you, it's quality, not quantity, of those interactions IMO.
Adam Marx@adammarx13 · Freelance writer/editor and music addict
@hunterwalk @geeky_yang I've noticed this for sure. Some of the best interactions I've experienced are the sparring ones; keeps the mind sharp and the sense of humor always looking for the next gag ;)
Jack Hage@jackpointnl · Sofware Developer
No question. Just a big thank you for your support and help with !
Hunter Walk@hunterwalk · Partner, Homebrew
@jackpointnl love that service!
jamestodd@jamestodd · Serial encourager and delighter
@jackpointnl Just registered!
rachel@serial_milk · co-founder, Kip
Hi Hunter, thanks for taking the time to do this AMA! With your experience in building product, what's the most important thing that people often miss or don't do in development?
Hunter Walk@hunterwalk · Partner, Homebrew
@serial_milk people can sometimes lose sight of the "why" - why are we building this and is this feature the best way to accomplish the goal or are there other ways to proceed. Especially happens post v1 of a feature where the natural energy is to start thinking about v2
jamestodd@jamestodd · Serial encourager and delighter
@hunterwalk @serial_milk Wish I could upvote that answer more than once.
Eric Willis@erictwillis · Working on something new
@hunterwalk Thanks for doing this AMA, Hunter. Do you have an anti-portfolio? Is there an investment that you decided not to make that you ended up regretting? Interested to know about some of the "ones that got away".
Hunter Walk@hunterwalk · Partner, Homebrew
@erictwillis i'm 100% positive that a great venture fund could be constructed on the back of the investments we've passed on! I'm told by industry vets that this is a good thing because it means we're seeing good opportunities and so long as we also think we've been able to invest in some special companies too (we do!) that we'll ultimately do quite well. to be more specific, there's no one or two companies that we passed on that I still kick myself about but there's one "loss" (founder decided to choose a different fund - for quite logical reasons) that I still think "darn, i wish he would have picked us!"
Sydney Liu@sydney_liu_sl · Co-Founder of
Hi Hunter! Thanks for doing this AMA. You're super public about all the tests in your life around productivity, including your calendar. What are your 3 favorite hacks? They can be life hacks, productivity hacks, Twitter hacks, investing hacks, product hacks, etc. Thanks and keep up the awesome tweets! Sydney
jamestodd@jamestodd · Serial encourager and delighter
@sydney_liu_sl @hunterwalk Bolting on to Sydney's question... also any favorite hackxperts?
Hunter Walk@hunterwalk · Partner, Homebrew
@sydney_liu_sl 1. don't read any content is realtime unless it helps you make a decision immediately (ie all the blogs, news articles, etc etc - save them to Pocket and read them later) 2. don't fall into trap of confusing busy = productive. step back periodically and figure out whether you're getting the important stuff done. 3. life cannot be lived sustainably if you have only one passion. even if you're in a period of work where it's all consuming, find a small way to take periodic breaks during the day/week, even if it's just for a cup of coffee, walk around the block, meditation, whatever.
Russ Frushtick@russfrushtick
@hunterwalk Any fun stories from your days at Second Life?
Hunter Walk@hunterwalk · Partner, Homebrew
@russfrushtick in the early days we didn't have enough benefits budget to afford both a 401k plan and buy jerky for the office. We voted and decided that jerky was more important than a 401k because happy engineers could build more $ value than just putting our money into a retirement plan :)
Jonny Miller@jonnym1ller · Cofounder @Maptia
Hey @Hunterwalk, love your whatif's list ( – kudos for the transparency! Of the 28ish ideas on the list, which would you personally be most excited to help bring to life and why?
Hunter Walk@hunterwalk · Partner, Homebrew
@jonnym1ller on those it's not about my degree of personal passion but about the degree to which we're encountering founders with a really interesting controversial audacious view of the future! That said, it's been really fun to see folks take swings at the IMDB for Products because I do think we lose track of "who made what" and that giving people credit for contributions is important.
Chandra Kalle@chandrakalle · Maker
Would love some quick thoughts on enterprise mobile - top trends you're seeing? how are tech founders with no in-roads trying to break in?
Hunter Walk@hunterwalk · Partner, Homebrew
@chandrakalle what's most exciting for me in the enterprise is that lots of traditional industries are finally getting the benefit of consumer-quality, mobile, collaborative software. We've got an investment in the commercial construction space that is replacing horrible old enterprise software and spreadsheets.
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
Hello @hunterwalk I love your blog. Skimm has been able to create a consumer based very organically. What was that one thing about Skimm that made you invest in it? Personally, I like how Skimm has changes news for me. We are building something similar in fashion world. Any advice?
Hunter Walk@hunterwalk · Partner, Homebrew
@neeeharika hi! The Skimm has been a great investment for us thus far and we really enjoy working with that team. I think Satya and I recognized its potential ahead of other venture investors because we'd seen at YouTube, Twitter and Google AdSense how large and profitable media businesses could be build around serving communities who felt like they weren't getting what they needed from current options. In this case three specific things struck us: 1) great founder<>market fit and a very talented, special cofounder team 2) loyal community and great engagement metrics from very early on 3) a readership demographic that would be very very attractive to sponsors, partners, etc
Paul Robert Cary@prcary · CEO, Findie |
@hunterwalk Jason Calcanis challenged people to build a better YouTube, in a famous 2013 blog post. Is there a sweetspot between YouTube and Mubi for creators of quality content, that showcases and monetizes only their best stuff?
Vytas Butkevicius@vytasbu · Freelance designer
Hi @hunterwalk , thanks for AMA! As a non technical PM, I keep on struggling and have a couple of Q's related to "Ode to non tech PM" on Medium: how did you deal with tasks, projects that are very technical (e.g. infrastructure work)? Moreover, how do you talk about pure tech startups or solve problems in tech? Hope you have a great day!
Hunter Walk@hunterwalk · Partner, Homebrew
@vytasbu part of being a PM without an engineering background is picking the right projects. One which is heavy infrastructure focused might not be a good match. My recommendation when dealing w an especially technical piece of a project is to (a) not fake it if you don't understand - get things explained simply to you (b) ask really good questions which help frame the decisions and then let your engineers make the decisions. don't get in their way. (c) have a trusted relationship with your engineer counterpart (at google we used a product lead paired w an eng lead) because they can usually tell you when you're making a mistake or misunderstanding an issue
Mike Rosengarten@smasher5 · founder @ unknown
@hunterwalk @vytasbu great advice from Hunter. I love to hire both technical & non technical PMs. Diversity is great. There can be a huge advantage to NOT knowing how to build software at the 1's and 0's level. It often can help you focus on user experience. The most important thing is to build a relationship with the people you work with (across the company) with an emphasis on engineering (given that's a harder skill to grok).
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
@hunterwalk Hunter, what do you think has been missing from online education companies in order to be seriously considered as an alternative to regular school education? Also, what would make you invest in one of them? Thanks!
Jake Chapman@runvc · Partner, Sazze Partners
If you had to be a partner at a different VC firm, which one would you choose?
Hunter Walk@hunterwalk · Partner, Homebrew
@runvc if Homebrew didn't exist, I think I'd be more likely to raise an AngelList syndicate or a small pool of capital and just invest on my own. Starting a fund is such a personal thing and a longterm commitment. There are lots of other VC firms I love to work with as co-investors but I'm just not sure I could imagine myself at anyone else's table.
Tomas Ruta@tomasruta · 2x funded founder, 3x CMO VC-funded co's
@hunterwalk We have a product team and a growth team at my startup. Growth is responsible for acquisition and referrals, but responsibility for activation, retention and revenue is owned by neither team. Is there any "best" way for allocating ownership? I know there might be no good answer to this one..
Markus Stefanko@mastef · Dood:Puzzle Planet,pitchXO,Tab Manager+
@tomasruta Another way to put this could be also how early in a startup you should focus on a 'customer success'-team?
chaz littlejohn@chazdazzle · Founder,
@hunterwalk Now that Jack Dorsey's back in the CEO spot at Twitter, what advice would you have for him moving forward?
Hunter Walk@hunterwalk · Partner, Homebrew
@chazdazzle Jack doesn't need my help but the one thing, and he know this, is nothing sacred - you need to be willing to take a step or two back in order to move forward. also be really clear w the team. If there are people who aren't excited to make Twitter something bigger and slightly different than what it is today, they should leave.