16. Venture in the Media (Erin Griffith)

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Erin Griffith joins Nick on the podcast to discuss venture in the media including:

  • Erin Griffith Venture in the MediaIf you take a 30,000 foot look at the media environment what are the major categories of venture players within media?
  • How has the mix of players changed in recent years?
  • This certainly isn’t new, but Blogging has very much arrived and become ubiquitous across the tech industry. How do you think blogging has changed the industry and audience consumption?
  • What are the major methods/channels that are used by the media to connect with their audience?
  • Recently we had Charlie O’Donnell of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures on the show to talk about deal-flow and how investors find startups. He had a great question and noticed a parallel that, very much like investors, journalists have to evaluate and select startups to write about. In a world with no shortage of options, how do you choose what and who to write about?
  • One can’t subscribe to every newsletter and immerse their self in every good media outlet. What advice would you have for busy venture investors that need to stay current and educated in this sea of content.
  • I recently read your article, featured in the Term Sheet newsletter, about finding startup founders before they’ve become founders. Can you first address why investors are trying to do this, and then touch on what was found in the study on the profile of founders?


Itunes:  http://bit.ly/Zq5yIa


Direct-audio:   http://bit.ly/1wDuMR3


SoundCloud: http://bit.ly/1eeDMpb

Guest Links:


Key Takeaways:


 1- Democratization of the Media & Shock Headlines

So Erin talked about how we are no longer in a media landscape with just the traditional journalists and players.  There are now many practitioners that are active bloggers, providing perspective on trends and creating content to educate other investors as well as startups.  She mentioned a few of the more famous ones including Mark Suster, Fred Wilson and Ben Horowitz.  On this point, there were two main messages that emerged from our conversation:
  1. Pick some good sources and use them to help filter.  The reality is that there is just too much content to read on a daily basis, so subscribing to the newsletter of great content creators and aggregators, like those Erin mentioned, will eliminate a great deal of the noise.  And the reason why you’ll often hear to pick a handful is b/c you could fall into the trap like I did, where I’ve signed up for 40 newsletters and I can’t even manage my inbox.  So whether it’s the newsletter or your twitter stream, remember to edit.  A quick tip here is that Twitter allows the creation of “Lists.”  So, it’s very easy to organize and review your stream around topics.  For example a list on Venture, one with just your friends, one on Chicago and maybe another on sports.
  2. The second message here related to the increasing number of shock headlines.  If you take a step back and consider, have you ever clicked  a really compelling link or headline only to read the article and be disappointed?  Unfortunately, there are not only bad content producers but also those that are great at getting people to read the bad content with a provocative headline.  So again, it can help save time to proactively curate your media diet instead of reactively reading the catchiest headlines.
2- Signals 
Erin mentioned that when quickly evaluating a large number of startups that she could write about, she looks for some signals, including:
Who is this person?
Why would they be successful?
How’s their idea different?
What’s compelling about it?
How can I get excited about it and
Why should other people be excited about it?
Any startup that is looking for good press or even looking to raise capital, should evaluate theirselves against these questions.


3- Social Responsibility
The last takeaway I wanted to mention is related to social responsibility.  It’s unclear how much VCs have thought about or how much they’re concerned about the ramifications of companies that they invest in that are potentially making the world a worse place.  So there are venture firms and accelerators that focus just on some sort of social enterprise… but that’s not what came up today.  Erin was curious about established firms that don’t have a focus on social responsibility and if they are purely making decisions based on potential Return on Investment or if they are concerned about a net negative impact on society at large.  
And finally, she pointed out the disproportionate balance of women in venture and private equity relative to other fields as an issue that needs to be addressed.  I recently had Ann Winblad as a guest on the program and considered asking Ann about this issue.   However, I decided not to b/c I wanted to approach the subject like any other.  She is a venture professional, here to talk about a venture subject, not to make a statement about how her gender is vastly underrepresented in the field.  But, in retrospect, I should have addressed it.  While I asked her to interview b/c of her chops as a practitioner and not b/c of her gender, it is issue in this industry and one that we should be considerate of and celebrate those like Ann and Erin who have done an incredible job of representing women and showing us all how much better off we’d be with more women like them in venture.


Tip of the Week:   Follow the herd or create your own?