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A tax on bullsh*t

Betting, as the saying goes, is a tax on bullshit. Opinions are easy  -- you can have as many as you choose, often crowding contradictorily around the same topic. But a wager where there is something significant to be gained or lost tends to filter out all but the most serious perspectives. Usually, however, predictions about the future are conveniently forgotten or reshaped before the results are in. The tax on an egregiously formed piece of bullshit too rarely comes…

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February’s Five Best Blogs

Five really good blogs we read this month: a fascinating first-person account of the days leading up to Redfin's IPO, from non other than their CEO; venture fund FirstRound's 30 best pieces of advice to entrepreneurs (our personal favorite: #17: Demo your product with the young, the old, and the drunk); some remarkable data on the differences in economic growth between the largest cities and smaller communities from Brookings; and a twofer from Jason Lemkin - some solid advice on how to…

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When one should go gently…

Startup death is a fact of startup life; most of us don't need to hum Circle of Life to understand that it's not all unicorns, roses and IPOs at the end. Indeed, the startup obituary has almost become its own literary genre, with lots of founders baring their souls about the individual circumstances of their company's demise. One of the more interesting ruminations we've come across is a terrific essay from Andrew Lee (@_andrewlee) which looks beyond the singularity of his…

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The Conventional Wisdom of Equity Compensation

If there is an industry that thrives on upsetting unconventional wisdom, it's tech. Don't talk to strangers? How about hailing a ride -- or renting a room -- from someone you have never met. People will never buy things if they can't hold them first. That sort of stuff. So when someone pokes technology's conventional wisdom right smack in the middle of the forehead, it makes an impression. Especially when that someone is Fred Wilson, who wrote a brief blog post…

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ClearCreek Transaction: Music to the ears

We were fortunate to provide advisory services to Mike Barsch, founder of Soda Jerk Presents, on his transaction with Live Nation Entertainment.  There is an engaging story behind every deal -- this was no exception with the basics well captured in the accompanying Denver Post article. As is often the case in successful exits, the challenges, accomplishments and pitfalls of Mike's 22-year journey can be too easily obscured -- both in building Soda Jerk into Colorado's largest independent music producer and…

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January’s Five Best Blogs

Among the best pieces we've read recently (and yes, this is a pretty liberal use of "recent") are: Dan Primack on Unicorns and the market for seed funding; a cogent Voxplainer on microgrids that should be read in conjunction with Foundry's Seth Levine explanation on why the Boulder Muncipal initiative to create a local utility is bad for renewable energy, as well as this longer piece on the Doomsday preparations of the uber wealthy. You are only in a bubble when you deny…

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VC Offramp Backup

An insightful and numbers-full piece in, of all places, Pensions and Investments, discusses the traffic jam developing in Venture Capital. As with any other backup, there is an excess at the beginning and less near than the end: as total capital invested continues to rise (more dollars but a smaller number of deals), however there are fewer exits, as market reluctance remains intact and IPOs sit perpetually on the horizon with liquidity always a destination, but too rarely an visit. The piece points out…

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M&A Appetite and Indigestion

We facilitate acquisitions. So it's good for us if M&A activity pays off for everyone involved. But too often it does not. The Economist has an excellent post on the difficulty with many M&A deals, focusing on a new study on acquisitions by public companies that, pretty simply,   concludes that the shares of acquirers underperform their less acquisitive peers. Profit margins also fall, as do returns on capital. The good news (for us at least, since we swim in the smaller end…

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Angel Investing and the Devil in Gil

We've been lucky enough to have heard Gil Penchina opine a lot. Unfortunately, most of this was well before he became known for angel investing and his Angel List syndicate, and was usually about his failed romantic exploits. Whatever -- truth is we usually didn't listen anyway. But now we do, and gladly. Burnished to a brighter shine as one of the guys democratizing venture capital, Gil had a recent spot at TechCrunch Disrupt where he gave his candid thoughts…

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Six Economic Ideas that Changed the World

Over the summer, The Economist magazine published independent pieces on six big economic ideas that changed the world (or at least modern finance). These have now been collected into a a single brief. Economic students will recognize many, but these should be read by anyone interested in why markets work (or don't work) in unexpected ways. Among the best are the classic essay on Information Asymmetry, of special interest to anyone buying a used car (the "Market for Lemons"), as well…

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