John Lilly

John Lilly

Partner at Greylock, former CEO at Mozilla, dad, husband, son, nerd

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON September 11, 2015

Discussion

John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
Hi! I’m John, one of the general partners here at Greylock. I’ve been an investor here for the last 4 1/2 years, and invest in a variety of different consumer and enterprise companies — Tumblr, Instagram, Dropbox, Jack Mobile (in stealth), Sparks, ClearSlide, and a few others that will become more public shortly. Before this, I ran Mozilla for a few years, starting there in 2005, shortly after the launch of Firefox 1.0 — I was lucky to help build it up to ~25% of Internet usage by 2010. Other stuff I’ve done includes starting my own company, Reactivity (sold to Cisco in 2007), working at Apple when SJ came back, and teaching at the Stanford d.school. My educational background is from Stanford in Computer Science, Design & Electrical Engineering. Mostly, I’m a nerd & love software and hardware of all sorts. Ask me anything. :)
Josh Elman
Josh Elman@joshelman · Partner, Greylock
Hey John! Right now it seems like most investors just focus on growth and metrics but not all great things grow quickly. Even more it can take years of building something first. What do you say to entrepreneurs building products that take more technology to build up front?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@joshelman Hi Josh! :) Mostly I think that all of these overnight successes are, generally, experiencing that in about the thousandth day or more of existence. Everything interesting takes time. So have a view of the world you want to build, and start to figure out how to make it. Find people who believe in your vision, get them to come along with you. Raise enough money to go. Don't grow burn too fast. But mostly: make sure you know what your north star is; why you're doing it; what you want to build eventually.
Mike Payne
Mike Payne@loveofweb · Mobile, UX & UI Designer, ClearSlide
@johnolilly What are some of your favorite mobile apps out there right now?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@loveofweb There are some great ones. I have loved Pocket since it was ReadItLater. I use Wunderlist every day. I LOVE Quip (as an app & a system) and think it's under appreciated. Timehop is one of my very favorite emotionally. I use the hell out of Feedly, all day every day. And right now, Yahoo Fantasy Football, but I use that because I have to, not because it's Amazeballs.
Mike Payne
Mike Payne@loveofweb · Mobile, UX & UI Designer, ClearSlide
@johnolilly and of course ClearSlide Mail :)
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@loveofweb shit. right. yes. :)
Casey Newton
Casey Newton@caseynewton · Silicon Valley editor, The Verge
@johnolilly Hi John! What is the origin of your classic Twitter catchphrase, MFBT?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@caseynewton Casey, you're the best. As you know, MFBT stands for Motherfucking Booze Time. It's a classic that (our Canadian, I'm pretty sure) folks at Mozilla started back in 2005 or 2006? Means, roughly, "Screw it, I've had enough of this for today." Now we just use it as a phrase to have fun with each other. And of course, a Google search yields Mozilla Framework Based Templates. One of my favorite trolls. :)
Casey Newton
Casey Newton@caseynewton · Silicon Valley editor, The Verge
@johnolilly Fantastic! Thanks.
Mike Connor
Mike Connor@mconnor · Various Things, Mozilla
@johnolilly 100% Canadian Mafia. The inspiration came from http://www.marriedtothesea.com/i... .
Ryan Hoover
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
John! Welcome. Before Product Hunt, as I was exploring what to do next after PlayHaven, I considered getting into venture capital. In your opinion what type of person makes a good investor and for those VC curious, what advice would you have for those trying to break in?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@rrhoover for folks trying to break in, the short answer is do whatever it takes to be around & involved with as many interesting companies as you can. As for what type of person makes a great investor, I think all the really great investors are different. My partners David & Aneel & Reid & Asheem, all astonishingly great investors, are very very very different in make up and thought process and approach. And they're different than, say Mike Moritz or Bill Gurley or others. Lots of ways to be successful -- I think the core is figuring out what you are really, really good at that's differentiated, and figuring out how to work that angle as hard as you possibly can.
Tomas Ruta
Tomas Ruta@tomasruta · 2x funded founder, 3x CMO VC-funded co's
@johnolilly Do you have any "Requests for Startups" - ie things that you would like someone else built (or problems someone else solved)?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@tomasruta Nah. I want people to build the things that they think the world needs. VCs are incredibly, incredibly bad at thinking about what needs doing.
Tomas Ruta
Tomas Ruta@tomasruta · 2x funded founder, 3x CMO VC-funded co's
@johnolilly What’s it like to work with Reid Hoffman?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@tomasruta Reid's terrific, obviously. One of the great thinkers of our industry and broader society, but also just a great human and collaborator. We've worked together on a lot of things -- Mozilla, Greylock, a bunch of other stuff. He's fundamentally generous and helpful. Great partner to have. (Lots of my other partners and collaborators also amazing, just less well known.)
Ray Garcia
Ray Garcia@raygcreative · Founder @teleporme
@johnolilly Being able to find the right partners in a business is priceless. You're a lucky man.
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@raygcreative It is everything. The people you work with & live with are the most important thing.
Ray Garcia
Ray Garcia@raygcreative · Founder @teleporme
@johnolilly I couldn't have said it better myself. Those two groups of people make up about 90% of the folks I spend my time with on a daily basis, and I'm sure that's accurate for most people. Being able to maintain good and healthy relationships with them can only have a positive impact on all the other aspects of life.
Paul Robert Cary
Paul Robert Cary@prcary · CEO, Findie | www.findie.me
@johnolilly Hi John. Thanks for doing this. How big of a threat is Popcorn Time to Netflix, Apple, HBO, Amazon, Hulu etc and what can they do about it?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@paulrobertcary Hi Paul! Interesting. I think it shows that people want easier & easier ways to watch videos. But I guess I'm sort of a simple guy, and think that in the main, most consumers want to pay for things that they value (like videos), because it's fair. Right now, I think that networks and distribution platforms make it harder to do the right thing than the wrong thing, but I think most people do want to do the right thing. So...I think that Popcorn Time will mostly be on the margins, not the mainstream, and it will mostly put pressure on the networks to figure out how to really deliver easier & better ways to view content.
Paul Robert Cary
Paul Robert Cary@prcary · CEO, Findie | www.findie.me
@johnolilly Thanks. I see it on the margins perhaps in certain countries but not others. I think everyone who's traveled and done business around the world has a view on which countries have a culture that looks favourably on those who don't pay for things if they don't have to, and digital is one of those products that can be replicated and distributed n times, almost instantly, at practically zero cost.
WallyDZ
WallyDZ@wally_dz · Developer, SYS Admin @ Popcorn Time.io
@paulrobertcary , I think Movie industry should start think about a global payment method ( Example : Bitcoin ) , I think as a Popcorn Time Team member i will be glad to add a button where people can pay ( If They want ) for a watched movie , i still think that everyone will benefit from that and specially Hollywood ( we are not Looking to take any commision ) not like All those companies ( Rightscorp )
Paul Robert Cary
Paul Robert Cary@prcary · CEO, Findie | www.findie.me
@wally_dz Why isn't there already a payment button in Popcorn Time? Even if it just connected to a central PayPal account where you deposit money first and then figure out the rights management later, at least you would be able to measure your users' willingness to pay for content that they cannot otherwise access by legitimate means. I don't think big movie distributors make it easy for consumers globally to access what they want, but Popcorn Time should self-police and block itself in countries where content is available through legitimate channels. When you start doing that, people's opinions may change. The CEO of Spotify was the CEO of uTorrent. It happens.
Kevin Kwok
Kevin Kwok@kevinakwok · Playing with puppies at Greylock
Who are the people who've most shaped your path?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@kevinakwok well, my parents (awwww) & grandparents. my wife. now, my kids (I am *excellent* at Mario Kart 8 and ping pong). Work-wise, way too many to mention. My manager at Apple, Jim Spohrer, was seminal. My co-founders at Reactivity Bryan Rollins (now GM of Jira), Brian Roddy (now VP OpenDNS/Cisco), Mike Hanson (now CTO at Jack Mobile). Mitch Kapor, my first investor, taught me a ton about how to build companies that I care about. Terry Winograd, my advisor at Stanford, where I first learned design. And Reid for sure -- my partner now, but also coconspirator on many projects including Mozilla. Mitchell Baker at Mozilla. We all stand on the shoulders of giants.
Sydney Liu
Sydney Liu@sydney_liu_sl · Co-Founder of Commaful.com
Hi John, Thanks for doing the AMA! Your business partner Reid Hoffman said that he learned a lot about great products integrating strong technology as well as design. What product do you think integrates tech and design exceptionally well and what makes it great? Thanks! Sydney
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@sydney_liu_sl my favorite is Sonos. Not because of the UX, which I think is kind of a mess, but because of the systems thinking of the whole product. It's resulted in our house being full of music everywhere, nearly all the time. The quality of life increase is meaningful. And now our 3 & 10 year old sons are DJing a fair amount, which is fun -- although it results in probably more Maroon 5 and Frozen Soundtrack than you'd really say was ideal.
Eric Willis
Eric Willis@erictwillis · Working on something new
@johnolilly Hello, John. Thanks for doing this AMA. Do you have an anti-portfolio? What was the most successful startup that you could have invested in early but passed on it? Why did you pass? Thanks.
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@erictwillis Sigh. Yes. Uber in the A -- was my first month at Greylock and I just couldn't get meeting with Travis to schedule. Snapchat -- they're amazing, and it was clear even in the A that it was working -- but just didn't make a great connection with Evan & Bobby. (my fault, not theirs.) Pinterest in the B -- that was working, too, but I was in the middle of closing Tumblr, so couldn't do both then (and we thought there was some conflict.) But: the list is long, like everyone's. Lots of amazing companies getting built this decade.
Eric Willis
Eric Willis@erictwillis · Working on something new
@johnolilly I still lose sleep over missed "hunts" on Product Hunt. I really wonder how I would react to those types of misses as a VC. Thanks for the response.
Dan Burch
Dan Burch@dan_burch
@erictwillis - What is your shortlist of missed hunts?
Eric Willis
Eric Willis@erictwillis · Working on something new
@san_danito I talked with the founder of RocketClub like a week or so before it was up on Product Hunt. It's done over 2000 votes. I could have hunted it. I sat on Tesla Powerwall and that has done 2,200 votes. To put that into perspective, those are two of the 5 top hunts (by upvote count) of all time.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
@erictwillis but it is no missing out on Uber and Snapchat!
Tomas Ruta
Tomas Ruta@tomasruta · 2x funded founder, 3x CMO VC-funded co's
@johnolilly What would you personally like to achieve at Greylock?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@tomasruta Hmm. I want to help some great companies start. Get great returns for our LPs, which include some of the greatest institutions in the world. Would like to make some progress on inclusion and diversity in the industry.
Danny Espinoza
Danny Espinoza@abcdannye · Founder @looksyvideo
Hi John, what are your thoughts on wearables? And do you think someone will figure out a killer app for them?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@dannyjespinoza I think we'll see systems of sensors on our bodies, rather than one wearable to rule them all, as it were. And the data they collect will, I think, be important in figuring out personal and population health -- i think there will be significant breakthroughs here.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
What life advice would you give yourself at 25 if you were 25 in 2015
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@eriktorenberg It's advice I got from folks when I was actually 25, and it's been consistent: (1) Find your tribe -- the people you want to build your life and career with -- and treat them *incredibly* well. (2) Do things that make your soul sing -- find the things that give you real joy because that will push you through the harder times. (3) Make more things -- making is a very very special gift & privilege. Do it as long as you can.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
The intersection of tech and politics - what is the current state of it and what are the opportunities?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@eriktorenberg Hi Erik! I despair about the intersection of politics and anything, to be honest with you. In an electorate that seems to take The Donald seriously, I mean, how can you think anything is working right? On the other hand: I have great optimism about the intersection of tech & government, and the people in Obama's administration -- Megan at CTO, DJ & Amac as Deputies -- they are, truly, my heroes. As is Jennifer Pahlka, who runs Code for America, where I'm involved some. I think that just like tech has given control to consumers over a lot of things, it promises to reconnect us with our local and state and federal governments, turning us back into active rather than passive citizens. I think we'll see a ton of interesting innovations here at every level of government.
Chris Schroeder
Chris Schroeder@cmschroed · investor
@johnolilly 4 1/2 years is a life time in technology, and you have a huge pattern recognition in the companies you are seeing. When you look at an entrepreneur -- beyond the obvious things about smarts, character, courage, ideas etc you always look for in a startup -- what if anything is different today? One great investor out there told me in a mobile world, he values product-focused tenacity (usability, problem solving, even obsession on product) in a new way. Does this resonate? something else?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@cmschroed Hi Chris! I'm trained in CS & design, so have always valued people who can not just build technology, but also design it in a way that's right for users (in your word, product, I think) -- that's always been critical. I think the edge we look for now, and this should be no surprise to you, given our friends in common, is an obsession with distribution -- figuring out how to get increasingly busy and distracted people all around the world to care enough to get and use your product. It's a little bit different than traditional product design -- designing products that can spread naturally in the world. That's the edge that I think is most interesting right now.
Ilya Sukhar
Ilya Sukhar@ilyasu · CEO, Parse
Do you miss building things?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@ilyasu I do. Although to be honest, in my work as CEO at Mozilla, mostly I was helping others build, not building myself. As you get bigger, it gets harder for the CEO to do real making without disrupting the org (one of the things that made (and makes) Apple & Facebook & Amazon special IMHO. But for me, a while ago I realized that one of my superpowers was helping others lead well -- as a teacher at Stanford, as a board member before VC, as a CEO with a management team at Mozilla. And so what I really love now is working with people who are often way more talented than I am, and helping them really get as good as they can possibly be. It's rewarding. But I miss making things for sure.
Tomas Ruta
Tomas Ruta@tomasruta · 2x funded founder, 3x CMO VC-funded co's
@johnolilly How has blogging less affected you?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@tomasruta It's bad. I want to write more. That's the plan. I think I'm going to start writing more this fall & winter, as I teach a couple of classes at Stanford. It's been hard to blog as a VC -- for the first few years, you feel like all the ideas in your head belong to other people! But I'm working on it, optimistic that I'll get into a groove, starting in the next couple of weeks. What kinds of things would you be interested in reading?
Tomas Ruta
Tomas Ruta@tomasruta · 2x funded founder, 3x CMO VC-funded co's
@johnolilly I would love to read about any patterns you notice from your position of privileged and high-level access to a huge deal flow:) The posts don't have to be long; I only need one "aha moment" to come back!
Ray Garcia
Ray Garcia@raygcreative · Founder @teleporme
How can you set yourself apart when pitching an investor so that you can stand out from the rest? In other words, what catches your eye?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@raygcreative I like people who can articulate what the future should look like, and the steps from here to there. And who have strong beliefs, held loosely, as Andy Grove used to say.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
@johnolilly Hey John, what is one of the craziest things you've seen in a pitch?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@bentossell I met MC Hammer in a pitch for a search company a while ago. That was...unusual.
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@johnolilly wait, no. I guess it's just Hammer now?
Ben Mathes
Ben Mathes@ben_mathes1
@johnolilly I have a question for Reid Hoffman but I thought I'd ask you instead (kidding, kidding) In your Code for America speech on communication platforms, you make a great case for the importance of technology that changes how we talk to each other:
Where, if at all, do you see the mobile ecosystem falling short for foundational communication platforms?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@ben_mathes Hmm. I think there's a ton of innovation yet to happen, but I don't really think about it as falling short very much. I communicate more with my family & co-workers & friends throughout each and every day than at any other point in my life -- that's all enabled by mobile. I think it's getting more expressive, more human. Maybe it's a little too sound-bitey and 140 character short all the time, so we're not getting into deeper conversations enough. But overall, I think ti's pretty incredible and I'm optimistic.
Ben Mathes
Ben Mathes@ben_mathes1
@johnolilly Ok, poorly-worded. There are exciting communications platforms _within_ vertical mobile apps. (instagram, snapchat, etc.). What's the current state of inter-app communication, where do you think it's going, where do you want it to go?
Corley
Corley@corleyh · COO @ Product Hunt
@johnolilly Thanks for joining! My question for you, can you share one of your lessons learned from building a consumer tech business? Specifically, what was a hypothesis you had that was ultimately disapproved and what did you learn from it?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@corleyh Hmm. Lots. I think the big lesson I've learned is that market share is a lagging indicator, not a leading one. So you have to be absolutely paranoid even though you see more and more people using your product every day.
Hector Rosales
Hector Rosales@rosaleshv
In Elon Musk's biography it said that his disciplines - among other things - in both engineering and business have made it possible for him to be successful with various ventures. How have your disciplines in both software and hardware design helped you in your career?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@rosaleshv Being technically trained is, in my opinion, the gift that keeps on giving. It teaches you a way of thinking that is tough to pick up later in life. But for me it is my training in design that has made the difference: how do you think and build to make things that people give a damn about? That's been completely transformational for me. I was lucky to find it in school, since it was still very early days in 1995.
@johnolilly What is the most risky company you have invested in for the past year?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@xpvegnc they're all risky! I've made 3 investments in the past 12 months, but none are announced, so can't answer this question very well unfortunately.
Elaine Lu
Elaine Lu@elaineluyi · Co-Founder & CEO, Visbit Inc.
Hi John, thanks for being here! You invested in Instagram before, so I am wondering what trends you see in the mobile photography category? What could be another "Instagram"?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@elaineluyi Hi Elaine! I love Instagram. It's not 100% clear to me that it's a photography company though. I think it's a company that realized, like Snapchat, that visuals is how we communicate now. They figured out how to let people tell their stories quickly and beautifully with their mobiles. I think that capability -- storytelling -- is fundamentally what it means to be human, and think there will be many more interesting opportunities to build from here.
Elaine Lu
Elaine Lu@elaineluyi · Co-Founder & CEO, Visbit Inc.
@johnolilly Thank you, John! This is very encouraging! Totally agree storytelling is the key.
@johnolilly Which areas do you think are overhyped right now? Which areas would you stay away from in the next year or two? For example, wearables, deep learning, 3d printing, IoT, VR, etc
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@xpvegnc well, I think most of these are interesting and useful, but I think mostly a question of timing. I think most of the categories you mention are actually a little under hyped, but it'll take a while for them to grow into their promise. Wearable sensors will transform health, but not as step trackers. Deep learning will be embedded in most of our systems, but I think will fall well short of anything approaching real autonomy. VR is going to evolve through mobile & PC-based paths over the next couple of years. BTC & the blockchain obviously are important, but it'll take a while to figure out. So mostly for me it's a matter of timing rather than whether or not they're useful.
Morgan James
Morgan James@morganjames264 · Insights Investigator
Hey John! Thanks for doing this AMA on a Friday of all days. In your opinion, what is the next big evolution of the "internet browser"?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@morganjames264 Yep. There's space here. I think that Facebook & Twitter are both, in essence, next generation browsers, but also fall short of what's possible. I'm looking pretty actively here, but haven't found the next big thing yet.
Morgan James
Morgan James@morganjames264 · Insights Investigator
.@johnolilly I'll follow your updates to keep apprised of what's stirring in the pot!.
Kevin Krauth
Kevin Krauth@kevinkrauth1
Hi John, can you provide some advice on how to construct a good elevator pitch? We've heard a lot of different opinions about length, format, elements it should include, etc. Would love your thoughts.
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@kevinkrauth Depends on what it's for, and who it's for. But you should be able to get someone interested (or objecting to) what you're doing in any length of time you have, from 30 seconds to 30 minutes.
Antoine Martel
Antoine Martel@martelantoine · Entrepreneur. 20.
what would you say is the best way for a startup to get in front of VC's?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@martelantoine The very best thing to do is to build a product that people love and use, and then good VCs will come find you. The next best way is to get introduced through people a particular VC knows well or has worked with. The unfortunate consequence of this, obviously, is that it perpetuates the old boy's network that a lot of industries exhibit. We need better solutions for sure.
Michael Sitver
Michael Sitver@msitver · I build things
@johnolilly I’m starting college at University of Chicago next week, and I don’t know what to study. I love technology, writing, and startups, and I want to work for some technology firm, but I don’t want to code. My design skills are naught. And I don’t want to work in marketing. Where could I add value in a startup? Will an economics degree (one of my passions is economics) be of value in SV?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@msitver My quick observation would be that for someone who's about to start college, there are an awful lot of things you've ruled out. (coding, design, marketing). If it were me, I would un-rule them out. And go learn. Lots of ways to get there, but don't assume that your passions are fixed, never changing.
Stefan Constantine
Stefan Constantine@whatthebit · Student
If you were still in charge of Firefox, what would you change? These days it feels like they're lost. Super lost.
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@whatthebit This is a tough question fundamentally. FWIW: Firefox, at least on OS X, is in my opinion, the superior browser. I know that most people in Silicon Valley won't think that, but it's mostly because they haven't really tried it in a year or two or more. But it uses less memory, is very fast, and I think design-wise has really made huge strides. And things like WebRTC & others are real innovations coming from Mozilla that are mostly behind the scenes. But it's true that market share is flat-to-down, and FirefoxOS doesn't matter much today (yet? hard to say.) More fundamentally, it's not clear (yet) what Mozilla's next act will be. The web is not, in my opinion, very healthy. Desktop web browsers are moving forward, but are not all that important in the face of the rise of mobile. IMHO, mobile browsers are mostly not great. There's opportunity there. But there's not a lot of space on these vertical platforms. I think Mozilla probably needs to figure out how to reinvent browsing, in a way that has human (identity) fundamentally baked in. And then they need to figure out how to get people to care. But this group has a fundamental believe in giving people the power to define where technology goes, rather than just taking it from Apple & Google &c. There's power in that, and I think they will find their way.
Remove me please
Remove me please@deleted-308753 · Unknown
what mobile device do you use?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@johnminnims All of them. :) Mostly, though, I use my iPhone 6 and my MacBook. But my Apple watch is growing on me, too.
Ben Mathes
Ben Mathes@ben_mathes1
@johnolilly They are supposed to stay the same size after you take them out of the box. May want to take it into applecare.
Glenn Gabriel
Glenn Gabriel@glenngabriel_ · entrepreneur, AL!VE
@johnolilly i've read that the path to becoming a VC/investor includes becoming a CEO of a company/startup (thanks to Ben Horowitz). Is there anything else you can touch on for aspiring VC's who want to help others build their visions? Any books you can point to that have inspired you in this sort of thinking?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@glenngabriel_ Mostly if you want to be a VC, figure out how to be helpful to interesting companies. that's it.
Mark Basnage
Mark Basnage@mbasnage · MakeKnowledge
@johnolilly What are the challenges facing Silicon Valley from your POV?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@mbasnage Right now, I think the environment is a mix of amazing and awful. Too many people coming here to make money instead of make great things. Too little true talent spread across too many companies. We're all trying to go as quickly as we can, so we sometimes optimize for short term, not long term. I think there's a lack of fear, and even recognition that business cycles happen. So we're all spread too thin, right when technology is letting us reinvent more of the world than ever before. So we make mistakes on a global stage more often.
Taufiq Husain
Taufiq Husain@taufiqhusainca · Managing Director at Polar Hills.
Hey John! When the team at Greylock does competitive landscape analysis, which factors outweigh everything else when you eventually choose the company you'd like to work with? Is it the team? Is it the experience? Is it the product itself? Also, why?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@taufiqhusainca Mostly it's whether the company is in a space where it can get really large, and whether the team is in it to build something that's really large (and will take a long time to get there).
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
@johnolilly I have seen some recent posts on top X lessons learned in first X years as a VC - do you have some insights to share here? :)
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@bentossell probably too many for an ama. But here's something I wrote a while ago: https://pando.com/2012/01/19/tip...
anuncio rocks media
anuncio rocks media@anuncio_rocks · founder
Your first computer was a ?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@anuncio_rocks Sinclair Z80. No joke.
Steffi
Steffi@mistakenlyiteps · Builder of mobile apps, Deal Grocer
What would be your first advice to young professionals who are interested in having their own startup?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@mistakenlyiteps Figure out how to make things that people want. The rest is details.
Hey John, as a former Mozilla volunteer I'm interested how do you see the future of Firefox? I wouldn't like to blame it, it's a great browser and I like it but in my opinion Chrome is better now. Do you think Mozilla will manage to recuperate Firefox's #1 place in the browser market?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@sc3wnet see my other Mozilla answer in this AMA. I don't know if Firefox will reclaim #1, but I'm not sure that's the most important question for them to answer, either. They need to find broader relevance IMHO. I think they will.
Nicholas Sheriff
Nicholas Sheriff@nicholassheriff · Founder, Medic Ventures
@johnolilly Hi John :) If you could go back to the very beginning running Mozilla what is one thing you would have done differently? Also if you could describe the future mobile web experience in one sentence what would you say and what companies do you see actually being in a position to lead and why?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@nicholassheriff Hi Nicholas -- on Mozilla, I would have killed our extension system in 2006, in favor of something more like GreaseMonkey (which led to Chrome Extensions). Extensions killed us because of the memory footprint & performance implications. Should have been more aggressive.
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@nicholassheriff Your second question I'm not sure how to answer -- could you rephrase?
Paul Tomkinson
Paul Tomkinson@paultomkinson · Founder, Textras
@johnolilly Hi John. I'm wondering where you would like to see 'social' head in 5 years time? Do you think there will be drastic changes in the social media landscape 5-7 years out, and if so, any idea what or how?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@paultomkinson Oh man, I hope we'll see big changes. I think the interactions are a little thin right now. We're missing some depth and humanity. But 5 years from now, who knows?
David Turner
David Turner@dturneresq · RSA Fellow
What are the next big plays in IoT? Is it all hype or is it really something that entrepreneurs should be giving some thought to? Same question for VR.
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@dturneresq Dunno! IoT I think will be huge in the enterprise, who will need ways to manage it. And in the home, where you'll also need ways to keep your network up & running all the time. So maybe that's the answer. My sense of VR is that it'll mostly live in the realm of entertainment for a pretty long time. But I'm surprised all the time, so who knows?
David Turner
David Turner@dturneresq · RSA Fellow
@johnolilly Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. Personally, I think CPG and Hospitality are also interesting, but I'm not sure of the HUGE numbers being forecast by think tanks and market analyst!
Mark Papadakis
Mark Papadakis@markpapadakis · Bytes Conjurer; Seeking Knowledge 24x4
@johnolilly Hey John. Ever tempted with the idea of putting to use everything you have learned in your 4.5 years as an investor, leveraging your connections, etc for a new company/startup? Would you say the more you know about being an investor, and/or the older you grow, the less you consider going back, or is it the opposite?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@markpapadakis I of course think about that a lot. But increasingly it's less about "doing a startup" than putting my skills & background together to make the world better, to have an outsized impact.
John Edgar
John Edgar@jedgar · Building better cities.
@johnolilly Hey John Lilly, what is your investment philosophy at Greylock, what gets you excited when you see a problem to be solved come across your desk?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@jedgar big broken markets, entrepreneurs who are compelled & driven to make the world into the thing they can see in their heads. :)
Derek Chu
Derek Chu@derek_chu
@johnolilly Hi John - what product metrics do you look for in a consumer investment, and how do you think about helping a consumer company once you've invested? Thanks for doing the AMA!
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@derek_chu Hi Derek -- we look for products that people are adopting organically, that they love, that stay on their phone's home screen. That's more qualitative than quantitative. Once we invest, it's however we can help we will. Lots and lots of recruiting. Lots of everything else. Company building is fun, but also tough, so we just try to help however we can. Greylock is a little unusual in that all of us have done company building before at scale, so we value it and can help.
marcosapedroso
marcosapedroso@marcosapedroso · Business development
We see the Brazilian internet access increase, being a connected community. I would like your opinion on the downgrade of Brazil's score for S & P, you think the market will stop investing in startups here? This type of note also implies Ventures in the market?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@marcosapedroso Hmm, I don't know much about the downgrade. What I do know is that entrepreneurs find good ways to make things work in any environment, and Brazil is such a large market, so technically sophisticated, and so dynamic, that i would expect startups to do better & better & better over time.
Fevi Yu
Fevi Yu@feviyu · Founder & Chief Pet Sitter, Dogma.me
Hi @johnolilly glad you mentioned that you would like to see more diversity and inclusion. Curious to know if Greylock / you, personally are doing anything extra to attract that diversity? ie. diversity day?
John Lilly
John Lilly@johnolilly1
@feviyu We're not doing enough. Nobody is. Not clear to me that programs like a diversity day help in real ways. I do think that Facebook & other's adopting a version of the NFL's Rooney Rule is likely to be pretty effective, because it forces you to develop new sources of talent. Right now, most of what I do here is ad hoc, and not scaled enough for sure.