M.G. Siegler

M.G. Siegler

General Partner at GV. Investor, writer, hunter, gatherer.

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON January 14, 2016

Discussion

M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
I am M.G. Siegler, general partner at GV, where I invest in companies like Slack, Medium, Jaunt, Digit, Periscope, and yes, even this one, Product Hunt (team effort, really). Before GV, I was a founding partner of CrunchFund and a longtime writer for TechCrunch and VentureBeat. I still write from time to time, but try to keep it to roughly 500ish Words these days. Ask me anything!
Gabe Rivera
Gabe Rivera@gaberivera · CEO, Techmeme
If I'm a CEO of a VC-backed startup which hasn't really made it yet, should I post selfies to Instagram as a marketing strategy? If so, how many per week? Five? Ten?
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@gaberivera is this your way of disclosing that Techmeme has just taken a round of funding, Gabe?
Hunter Walk
Hunter Walk@hunterwalk · Partner, Homebrew
@mgsiegler can you remove "hunter" from your "Investor, writer, hunter, gatherer" bio? It's confusing for my personal brand.
Mike Belsito
Mike Belsito@belsito · Co-Founder, Product Collective
@hunterwalk You just better be glad he doesn't like to go on walks, too.
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@hunterwalk "until I was about twelve years old and that no-talent ass clown became famous and started winning Grammys."
Ryan Hoover
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
M.G.! Welcome. What's on your homescreen and which app do you regularly use that few people may have heard of?
Morten Jacobsen
Morten Jacobsen@mortjac · Serial entrepreneur, Pvblish as, Norway
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@rrhoover hey Ryan -- my homescreen is pretty bland in terms of newness (which is interesting in and of itself -- speaks to relative dearth of new apps/services). Second screen though is full of interesting ones. Like your new favorite thing, Peach :) -- I think people have heard of it, but also Byword, a writing app, that I use a lot to write on the go.
Thomas Stöcklein
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
@mgsiegler Bessemer Venture Partners' anti-portfolio lists companies that the firm didn't invest in, but in hindsight should have (e.g. Apple, Telsa, etc.). What are some notable companies you should have invested in, but didn't?
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@tomstocklein Apple and Tesla are two good choices! But really, the nice thing about being at a larger fund is that hopefully there's an opportunity to get involved with the companies we love even if we "missed" them the first time around :) (Thank you for allowing me to duck that one with humor.)
Zach Cmiel
Zach Cmiel@zach_cmiel · CEO, PoKoBros
Hello Mr. Siegler! What's your favorite news app and how do you receive the news??
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@zach_cmiel Hi! My go to is still Techmeme for catching up (hope you're watching, Gabe!) -- beyond that, Twitter is still the way I mainly get news. But increasingly I am definitely on Medium more and more (we're investors, of course). Haven't checked the RSS feeds in a while :)
Marshall Kirkpatrick
Marshall Kirkpatrick@marshallk · founder, Little Bird
@mgsiegler @zach_cmiel you should check feeds again, for old time's sake. It's really quite delightful.
Marshall Kirkpatrick
Marshall Kirkpatrick@marshallk · founder, Little Bird
@mgsiegler hey M.G.! Hope you're well. If there was one thing that got you most excited about startups when you were at Venturebeat, when you were at TechCrunch, and now that you're at Google Ventures - what would those things be? Has it changed through each stage of your career or stayed consistent? Cheers!
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@marshallk hey Marshall, long time, no see! It's a good way to frame what I think is a question I get a lot: the transition from covering startups to investing in startups. The common thread I've found across all the places I've been and careers I've had remains products that I actually not only use, but use almost obsessively use. Those were the most fun to cover because I felt like I could easily get a grasp on nuances of the products, and the same is true with investing.
VentureDeal
VentureDeal@venturedeal · Don Jones, Founder, VentureDeal
Do you use AngelList or other similar sites for your work? Why or why not? Thanks.
Josh Erickson
Josh Erickson@joshberickson · @Square, SF
@mgsiegler Hey M.G., wondering about your experience with GV in London last year. How's the tech/startup scene there? Has GV backed any exciting companies there yet?
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@joshberickson Hey Josh, London was amazing. I had actually never lived abroad before, so it was a great experience -- and really nice to get a perspective living outside the Bay Area after almost a decade here. The startup scene there is obviously more nascent than in Silicon Valley, but it feels like it's growing faster. It's just in a different part of the cycle. In my opinion, there needs to be more big successes there to continually populate the ecosystem with a diaspora of entrepreneurs who have had success before. It's happening -- it's just earlier. GV has backed just over a half-dozen companies so far (6 disclosed) all over the EU -- and we're really happy with all of them. With more to come!
Morten Jacobsen
Morten Jacobsen@mortjac · Serial entrepreneur, Pvblish as, Norway
@mgsiegler @joshberickson Are you still located in London @mgsiegler?
Thomas Stöcklein
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
@mgsiegler What are the most common pitch mistakes entrepreneurs make when trying to raise money from GV?
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@tomstocklein in my experience, it's mostly people who try to describe how they're going to 'boil the ocean.' That is, they lay out a roadmap that is a little too grandiose. It's great and necessary to have a big vision, of course, but with almost all startups, the playbook you set out with will vary from the one you end up executing on in many ways. I also always worry about it from the angle of people trying to do too much before the product is ready for it...
Sara Mauskopf, CEO of Winnie.com
Sara Mauskopf, CEO of Winnie.com@sm · CEO and Co-founder at Winnie.com
Why did you change your twitter handle from @parislemon to @mgsiegler?
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@sm a great question, Sara :) It was a hard call since I had become known in certain circles by the 'parislemon' handle -- I just felt a little handcuffed by it honestly. Which may be fine in some cases, but it was a name I came up with when I was 13 years old! After getting kicked off of AOL -- the dial-up version -- for scrolling (taking actions too fast) in a chat room. Felt like it was time to grow up a bit :)
Gabe Rivera
Gabe Rivera@gaberivera · CEO, Techmeme
Broadly speaking, for similar quality startups, where have seed valuations moved vs. a year ago? + or - what %?
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@gaberivera are you also asking this to raise your seed round? I will actually answer this: I think things have cooled a bit from a year ago. I don't have the numbers here to give you a nice quotable number :)
Anna Savina
Anna Savina@hashevatski · RUKI Editor-in-Chief
@mgsiegler thanks for joining this PH chat! I'm interested in your transition from a reporter to an investor. What skills did you need when you joined GV? How did you acquire them? Who/what helped you along the way? Which jobs in tech are also relevant for journalists who are willing to change what they are doing?
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@hashevatski I was lucky to have a bit of a seamless transition by leaving TechCrunch to help start CrunchFund before GV. I personally found that the skill set transferred pretty well. I went from looking for interesting startups to write about, to looking for interesting startups to invest in. That's simplified, of course. But at a high level, having a (hopefully) good intuition for what will work (both product-wise and team-wise), was the key. LOTS of people helped along the way. But as with most things, the best learnings have come from experience... I'm still very much learning.
Kevin Yen
Kevin Yen@kevinyen · Founder, ChartUps.com, x-Goog/YouTube
@mgsiegler How do you decide which portcos to tweet about, and which not to? How often do they ask you to? Many (earlier stage) startups struggle to breakthru the noise, and top VCs (like you) operate above the noise. Thanks!
jack rometty
jack rometty@rometty_ · student
Hey! What is the best non-startup advice you've received? :)
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@rometty_ "write every day." Even if you're not a writer, I find this to be clarifying for many things. Though ideally that form of writing is not email.
Chad Byers
Chad Byers@chadbyers · General Partner, Susa Ventures
What was the highlight of your honeymoon and one place from the trip you would recommend to others?
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@chadbyers Hobbiton! (But really, we loved Bay of Islands up north.)
Gabe Rivera
Gabe Rivera@gaberivera · CEO, Techmeme
I notice you don't give many high fives on Twitter to fellow VCs and industry peers. Do you think this is a problem? Have you resolved to give more for 2016? BTW, high five!
Ashley Mayer
Ashley Mayer@ashleymayer · Partner, Social Capital
Who are your top three twitter follows? (Aside from @msquinn.)
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@ashleymayer enjoy @billsimmons for sports, @dailykerouac for daily Jack Kerouac passages (highly retweetable), @economist because I will read almost anything The Economist puts out there.
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@ettinger · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
@mgsiegler Do you enjoy @billsimmons enough to get him on here for a LIVE?
Leo Zakour
Leo Zakour@leozakour · Entrepreneur & Product Designer.
Hi @mgsiegler Whats really taking you out bed and saying I'm going to invest on "X" startup?
neeharika sinha
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
Hello @mgsiegler! thanks for this AMA. Which new verticals in tech do you see evolving in 2016? One advice for an entrepreneur to get noticed by investor?
Jeff Umbro
Jeff Umbro@jeffumbro · CEO of The podglomerate
@mgsiegler Why did you move from writing about tech to investing? Probably a pretty easy answer here, but I just wonder if there's a driver here other than money.
Chaitanya Malik
Chaitanya Malik@chaitanyamalik3
@mgsiegler I've been switching from android to IOS every year for the past 5 or so years (iPhone 4s, Nexus 5, iPhone 6 Nexus 6p). Unless i'm mistake you've stuck with IOS during this period. Wondering what your reasoning behind this is? Thanks a bunch!
Tim Lopez
Tim Lopez@lopeztimothya
@mgsiegler how's the screenplay coming? And what genre is it?
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@lopeztimothya very slowly. The studio can expect it in 5 to 50 years...
Duylam
Duylam@einfalles1 · Graphic Design & Programming
@mgsiegler @lopeztimothya I have a screenplay. Has Google Ventures thought about investing in films?
Jeff Kasten
Jeff Kasten@jeffkasten · Hirebridge
@mgsiegler What top 3 tech categories/sectors do you think will garner the most investment capital over the next 12-24 months? #GoBlue
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@jeffkasten 1) Life Sciences (which isn't my area of expertise, of course, but huge interest for GV) 2) Robotics (also not really me, but something we're looking closely at). 3) I think we'll see in the first six months how hot VR is going to be in 2016...
Jeff Kasten
Jeff Kasten@jeffkasten · Hirebridge
@mgsiegler @jeffkasten Excellent. Really appreciate the insights.
Mike Siegel
Mike Siegel@mikejsiegel · Director of Software Engineering, Jibe
Do you have interest in wrting a book? If so, got any topics you're considering?
Sam Sabri
Sam Sabri@samsabri · Growth @ Polarr
Hi. I'll be that guy. Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses, or 1 horse-sized duck? Also, what's your favorite app you've downloaded in the last few weeks?
Murdo Connochie
Murdo Connochie@murdo_ · Tech Consultant, KPMG
Has being an investor/GP always been a goal of yours or did it take you by surprise when the opportunity came along?
Mike Belsito
Mike Belsito@belsito · Co-Founder, Product Collective
What are your favorite Cleveland spots? How often do you make the pilgrimage back? (P.S. there are a handful of companies/investors you should get to know when you come back out here). ;-)
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@belsito after years (7?!) away, I finally made it back a couple summers ago and then again this past fall. My favorite spots are Dave's Cosmic Subs (in Chagrin Falls -- but many locations now), Master Pizza, Winking Lizard. All must-dos whenever I'm back in town.
Mike Belsito
Mike Belsito@belsito · Co-Founder, Product Collective
@mgsiegler @belsito LOVE Dave's! My first startup was steps away from the Chagrin Falls location.
James
James@jamesfhiii
Hey M.G. @mgsiegler, longtime reader and follower here. I first discovered Instagram and Foursquare, apps that I still use daily, via your covered on TechCrunch. What are 2-3 apps, which I may not know of, that I should have on my iPhone/iPad today?
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@jamesfhiii Thanks, James. One real issue the past couple of years for me has been that there haven't been many massive breakouts. The ones I would cite now (Slack, Periscope) you undoubtedly already know about. People sure seem to like Peach now, but we'll see if it has lasting power!
Chaitanya Malik
Chaitanya Malik@chaitanyamalik3
@mgsiegler Whats your best advise for someone going to college next year?
David Breger
David Breger@dbreger · Product on Messenger at Facebook
@mgsiegler It seems like big companies fall - not usually due to a competitor, but due to a new trend that makes them obsolete. What are the new trends that you think could end up making some of the big tech companies obsolete in 10 years?
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@dbreger nothing too shocking, but not going mobile-only fast enough. It's one thing to talk about mobile-first, but I think too many current companies don't realize that everyone growing up now are only going to use traditional computers for certain tasks. Everything will be done on mobile devices (probably not just phones, either).
Maxwell F. Dezh
Maxwell F. Dezh@maxwelldezh · Co-founder & CEO at AppU2
@mgsiegler - Hello Mr. Siegler! , What is your most favourite tech start-up launch strategy? Thank you!
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@maxwelldezh definitely keeping things under-the-radar for as long as possible. The big, hyped-launches rarely work and can often put a startup in a bad spot. https://500ish.com/avoid-the-fea...
Maxwell F. Dezh
Maxwell F. Dezh@maxwelldezh · Co-founder & CEO at AppU2
@mgsiegler Appreciate your time today! thanks for the insights.
Harry Stebbings
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
@mgsiegler thanks so much for joining us today. Big fan of yours, my question is; how important is your personal brand to you as a VC? What methods do you use to maximise your brand? P.S Would love to have you on @twentyminutevc and share your story!
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@harrystebbings Personal brand definitely matters, of course, but it varies. The key to me here is to keep writing, I can't tell you how many random posts lead to opportune meetings.
Morten Jacobsen
Morten Jacobsen@mortjac · Serial entrepreneur, Pvblish as, Norway
I’m still missing yours and Jasons podcast long time ago. Are you still doing things together?
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@mortjac I would love to re-unite with Kincaid to do another OMG/JK. I haven't seen him in far too long. Last I heard he was in LA, enjoying life, no doubt.
Morten Jacobsen
Morten Jacobsen@mortjac · Serial entrepreneur, Pvblish as, Norway
Is London the place to seek funding for accounting and finance apps and services?
neiljain83
neiljain83@neiljain83
@mgsiegler Jabrill Peppers for heisman?
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@neiljain83 If there is any justice in this world :) #GoBlue
Fᴀʀʜᴀᴅ
Fᴀʀʜᴀᴅ@fpocha · Product & UX, Design Sprints
@mgsiegler if you had an amazing mobile development team assembled, with 1-2 years of funding, and could work on any mobile app or platform you wanted to, what would it be?
Tom Barnett
Tom Barnett@rompsk · Creative Director, Hail
@mgsiegler Hi! I'm a Kiwi who works remotely for an NZ based startup from Bolivia. Any thoughts on the future of remote working?
Roma Zver
Roma Zver@romanpoints · Co-Founder, RewardExpert.com
How much should one give up of the company that has just finished product and just needs investors money for marketing.
James
James@jamesfhiii
Hey M.G., longtime reader and follower here. I first discovered Instagram and Foursquare, apps that I still use daily, via your covered on TechCrunch. What are 2-3 apps, which I may not know of, that I should have on my iPhone/iPad today?
John Doherty
John Doherty@dohertyjf · Founder, Credo (GetCredo.com)
Hey @mgsiegler! Longtime follower first time question asker. I'm a solopreneur 3.5 months into my venture. So far I've funded it with consulting work and as of the end of this month have a 4mo runway to just work on the product and growing it. In the last 3.5 months I've grown it from nothing to ~$6k in MRR. I'm a growth marketer by trade but also can code yet pride myself on being a generalist to get whatever is needed done. I don't want to bring on a "technical cofounder" because a) I don't want to just bring someone on and give away a large chunk of my company and b) I like being a solo founder. If you were in my shoes and needed to triple revenue and growth in the next 4 months to not have to go back to consulting and keep being able to build the company, how would you make things go faster?
@mgsiegler Being that GV invested in Compass Therapeutics -- what interest do VC's like yourself have in medical marijuana start ups and what role can technology play in propelling this particular industry further?
Eric Metelka
Eric Metelka@eric3000 · Product Manager, PowerReviews
@mgsiegler You've changed your writing routine over the years. What is it now? When do you find time to write? Also Northwestern > Michigan football. Maybe not in reality, but at least in my head
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@eric3000 I'm always tweaking things. With 500ish words, my goal is really to try to write daily. But I'm not nearly there yet. My current thinking is to find a set time each day, but it's hard with the day job. My meetings revolve around when entrepreneurs can meet -- as they should! So it remains a work in progress. And Go Blue ;)
Jerry Sarpong
Jerry Sarpong@jerryluti · Tech Enthusiasts
@mgsiegler what makes a good tech writer and what makes a good technology story.
Daniel Timothy Rector
Daniel Timothy Rector@daniel_timothy_rector · HereWeGo
@mgsiegler I have an MVP iOS app currently, HereWeGo mobile, and we're currently developing the second phase of the app to incorporate business profiles. How can I present the product to GV? Thanks
Thomas Stöcklein
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
Hypothetical question: If you were to arrive in Silicon Valley today with the 5-year goal of becoming a partner at GV, but had no connections, no money and no tech work experience, what would you do?
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@tomstocklein start writing -- a lot. Worked for me :) I'm only half-kidding!
Adam Marx
Adam Marx@adammarx13 · Freelance writer/editor and music addict
@mgsiegler Hey M.G., thanks for taking time today! What are your thoughts on the rapidly changing media space (music, TV, movies, publishing) regarding startups, and what opportunities do you see in the area in the next few years?
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@adammarx13 you bet! As we're seeing, traditional television is changing quickly. Film too, but a bit slower. And publishing perhaps slower still. Music has already changed. All of these are tricky areas for startups because each usually involves working with the entrenched players to secure content rights -- a huge pain, of course. I obviously love what Medium (GV company) is doing on the publishing side. On the TV side, it's really early with the new Apple TV, but it has been pretty magical to use something like Periscope (which was a GV company) on it. I suspect others will figure out a way to do something different and big here. Film just seems to be going more and more to a place where there are a handful of massive movies that open in theaters, a few small ones for awards, then everything else is straight to your home (whether that's on a TV or tablet, etc). How a startup can play there, it's not yet clear -- we do like Jaunt on the cinematic VR side of things. Music is a world of pain (in the portfolio, at least Kobalt is trying to make artists getting paid less so).
Adam Marx
Adam Marx@adammarx13 · Freelance writer/editor and music addict
@mgsiegler @adammarx13 First, thanks for your thoughts! I agree, traditional TV and film and going through massive changes, almost every six months it seems. I'll be interested to see how the live-streaming capabilities of new apps impact the this space in the long run. Music has already changed from what it was in the early 2000s, but I think is far from its final evolution, even in the next ten years. Content rights are certainly a tricky quagmire, but less so if startups are able to bypass the entrenched players and find a way of securing the rights themselves. Arguably longer though it might take, it makes for a more independent business model in the long term I think. I love Medium because of how they've made publishing feel unique again. One of the features I'm particularly bullish on is their "import" feature because it means I can easily pull pieces from my blog and republish fairly easily. I'm interested to see how live streaming apps like Periscope and Meerkat (and group streaming ones like Blab) change the TV landscape. Film seems to be anyone's guess right this second. Back to music, though, I think there is a world of opportunity to go along with the world of pain. The pain exists mostly in trying to fight for the same mainstream material which is gate-kept by the Big Three labels. However, the independent universe is expanding faster than people imagine, and I see tremendous upside there. There might well be an aversion to music startups right now, but dynamics are changing very rapidly there.
Adam Conrad
Adam Conrad@adam_conrad · UX Lead, CoachUp
@mgsiegler What sort of metrics do you recommend seeing in a budding business before seeking outside investment? If you aren't generating revenue yet, is web traffic one of those metrics?
jamie pham
jamie pham@jamiepham · Digital Media Manager + LA Galaxy writer
Did you go to any soccer games when you lived in London?
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@jamiepham I did! A couple Arsenal games (thanks to my partner at GV, Tom Hulme) -- such an awesome experience. (Though the no-drinking at your seats too a little getting used to! But understandable given how intense everyone seems to be about the matches!)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
@mgsiegler in your time at Venture Beat and TechCrunch, what was the strangest thing you ever got pitched, that you did end up writing about?
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@ems_hodge SO many, hard to come up with one. I will say one of the strangest *ways* I got pitched in the writing days was someone paying to advertise against my name on Google! Clever.
Sarthak Grover
Sarthak Grover@sarthakgrover · Consumer Tech 
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Chikai Ohazama
Chikai Ohazama@lifeofc · EIR, Google Ventures
Two questions. What's your favorite Alan Rickman film and are you the writer behind "Review in Haiku"? :-)
M.G. Siegler
M.G. Siegler@mgsiegler · General Partner, GV
@lifeofc Megan and I actually saw a screening of 'Sense & Sensibility' outdoors (!) in London last year, and he got up and spoke afterwards. He was great in that film. From my childhood, I still love hating him in 'Robin Hood: Price of Thieves' and, of course, 'Die Hard'. He's one of those actors that is great in every film -- even when the film itself isn't great ('Bottle Shock' comes to mind). And yes, I'm still writing the reviews in haiku format from time to time :)