Notes from the PandoMonthly with Mark Suster

For the past few weeks, I have been burning through PandoMonthly fireside chats and keeping notes on them. Since the talks are so long, I hope the notes will be useful in helping you determine if you want to watch the full interview.


Today I’ll be writing on the PandoMonthly with Mark Suster, a prior entrepreneur, a VC at Upfront Ventures, and a blogger at Both Sides of the Table. The interview is a bit under 2.5 hours, and has a ton of great advice in it.

Here are some paraphrased notes of my favorites points during the interview.

  • CEO as chief psychologist: You have sales working with marketing working with engineers, and they have different viewpoints. Everyone ends up fighting with everyone else. CEO’s job is to handle this. If the CEO wants everyone to love them, you can’t make the right decisions, and handle these problems correctly.
  • Deflationary economics: Almost every great success story on Internet is built on massively deflationary prices. Drive costs down, drive margins down, create large overall market doing so, and it is impossible for the big incumbents to beat you.
  • Finds it a shame he sold company: There were many currently successful companies built on the ideas that his company was working on. He was tired, employees were tired, etc. They ended up selling the company, and didn’t see it through, but could have had a great future.
  • Why big VC blogs in NY, Boulder, LA:  Necessity of mother of all invention. Fred Wilson (NYC), Brad Felt (Boulder), and Mark Suster (LA) weren’t plugged into Silicon Valley ecosystem. They needed to work harder to get out there. It ended up being a great investment.
  • Commercializing academic work is tough. Very difficult, especially in California. The UC system has a unified policy is they want 2% royalties on sales. That makes most of their startups untenable. If a professor is involved, it makes it worse. The tip is to not touch university resources or professors. Universities should embrace equity like Stanford.
  • Internet of everything.  Mark isn’t a big fan of wearable. He is a big fan of things talking to each other: objects all talking to each other, broadcasting, and communicating. This will be powerful for logistics, manufacturing, transportation, etc..
  • Consumer vs. enterprise. Marc Andreeson recently said that Andreeson-Horowitz generally wants to do enterprise A round, and consumer B round. Consumer is hard. Enterprise and unsexy stuff has less competition, you know users, and monetization more clear. In enterprise, you can listen to consumers. With consumer, you can’t because its always angry consumer that is loudest.
  • Keep communication simple about startup and vision. Be more like George Bush, less like Al Gore. Al Gore speaks too intelligently. Keep message simple so that everyone will easily understand it.

If you’ve got the time, check out the full interview here:

P.S. This is post number #71 in a 100 day blogging challenge. See you tomorrow!

Follow me on Twitter @alexshye.

Or, check out my current project Soulmix.

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