Generic VC Advice Letter for COVID Times

These are unprecedented times. By unprecedented I do not mean that the current situation has not occurred before. Of course there have been pandemics, perhaps even as recently as one thousand years ago. However, as a Venture Capitalist I do not believe in looking back. I believe that we must build for the future. We could build for the past too, but I am convinced that it would be the wrong bet. I for one am investing in the Future.

I foresee hard times ahead. Only the companies that manage to not die will survive. The rest will not make it. The question we need to ask ourselves is, how can we predict who will be the winners and the losers? The short answer is that we cannot, but that would be a disappointing thought. Let me give the long answer then. It is always possible to predict the future if you do not aspire to be accurate, and that is my job.

Coronavirus is a game changer. This is a time of war, and only wartime CEOs should be at the helm of our portfolio companies. This is why we have organized a founder retreat / boot camp in which our negatively tested portfolio leaders will learn the basics of hand-to-hand combat and guerrilla warfare. We do not expect that all of them will make it back, but that is a sacrifice our fund is willing to make. As Steve Jobs was fond of saying, “death is very likely the single best invention of life.”

Our founders who come back will be stronger and ready to build. Build what, you may ask? Things, of course. This may seem like a completely obvious answer with the benefit of 2030 hindsight, but today we are willing to bet the farm of our LPs on this thesis. And let me be more specific, without fear of alerting our competitors. Some of the things our portfolio investments will build are necessary because our governments worldwide are incapable of providing the services fundamental to operating the mechanisms that would make it possible for citizens to perform the duties required to avert future unknowns. You can read that again.

Roads? No, where we are going we don’t need roads. We are going places that are inside perhaps. We are going to the mind. We need self-cutting hair. We need infrastructure that will help us restart the American Dream after restoring a backup from an update prior to the buggy release that should not have been approved by the QA director we have just fired.

Let me stress an important point: we need to build for everyone. And by everyone, I mean specifically those who will pay for the products and services our companies will provide. We also will build mechanisms to facilitate citizen access to loans to purchase said products and services, because in times of need we must also help each other without expecting anything in return.

There are innumerable ways to honor the legacy of our forefathers, foremothers, and foreuncles. We believe in exactly one of those ways, which is to build. Things, specifically. So from Meccano to Legoland, here we come with a brick in our hand.