Investor Index: Discover the Most Popular VC & Angel Blogs
Looking for the music? I’m trying something new and have embedded the entire Darwin Deez album! Scroll to the bottom of this post to hit play, because music makes reading spreadsheet a lot more fun.
Update: This post may have been more timely than I realized. I just noticed that David Hornik’s most recent post from early March talked about marking 10 years as a VC blogger. He says it best in his post:
I had no idea ten years ago that VentureBlog would prove a catalyst for a whole industry of bloggers. But I am thrilled that it has. Not only has blogging provided us venture capitalists with the opportunity to demystify an enigmatic industry. But, more importantly, it has given entrepreneurs an invaluable resource to assist them in the incredibly challenging task of company creation. With any luck VentureBlog and the many VC blogs that followed will continue to flourish for years to come.
Long before I ever imagined starting my company, I began reading a handful of investor blogs to follow along with what was happening in the startup world. When I learned about tech startups in 2006 I found it amazing to me that someone in their 20s could raise millions of dollars to build something the world had never seen before, and I wanted to understand how that worked and who made it possible. The first investor blogs I ever read and subscribed to, in 2006 were Josh Kopelman, Mike Speiser and Paul Graham. The landscape has changed since then, with hundreds of investors now sharing their thoughts on their blogs.
By the Numbers
- 68 investor blogs have been updated since the beginning of 2013
- 17 investor blogs rank above the global Alexa 100,000
- According to Alexa the 5 most widely read investor blogs are Y Combinator, Dharmesh Shah, Paul Graham, Fred Wilson and Mark Suster.
- 2 female VCs are blogging (as of publishing): Christine Herron and Rachel Strate (not updated since 2009).
Who have I missed? Which investors blog posts from the past are so good they should be read over and over again? Let me know in the comments so I can keep this updated.
This post uses publicly available data on Crunchbase and has elicited a strong response from the tech community in general. I am making corrections as I receive them and you can scroll to the bottom of the post to see a full list of my changes. The list has been updated to read in alphabetical order, and I have posted a follow up bug report on the data and methodology.
I am going to say what most investors and many savvy entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley know but aren’t saying: just as there are zombie startups, there are zombie VCs out there and they walk among us. These are partners at venture firms who are 3-5 years into investing their fund, don’t have very strong results so far, and are struggling to raise new funds. These investors are not doing new deals, opting instead to use their remaining capital to double-down in follow on rounds with their existing portfolio, but in some cases they’re taking meetings anyway.
How to Spot a Zombie VC When Raising Your Series A
In the same way at a VC will often send you to an associate because they’re “too nice” to say no, zombies will meet with you and make you feel like you’re making progress on the fundraising path, but can ultimately wind up being a huge waste of time. Since you don’t have your own associate to pass them off on, you need to watch for the warning signs yourself and ruthlessly protect your precious time. You’re here to raise money and get back to work, not make friends.
- They haven’t made any series A investments in the past 6 months
- They haven’t invested outside their existing portfolio in the past 3 months
- They haven’t made ANY investment in the past 3 months (after a more regular pace in the past)
- They tell you they’re re-focusing on later stage deals, or raising a new fund
Once you have identified that you may be meeting with a zombie it can be frustrating, but what you need to understand is that just like Bruce Willis in the 6th Sense zombies usually don’t realize they’re dead. Politely complete the meeting and update your spreadsheet accordingly when you get home. If they contact you to set up another meeting or request that you send over your deck it is appropriate to ask them how serious they are about doing new deals before you provide more information (decks get emailed around) or offer up more of your time.
If the investor seems angry with you for asking about their (lack of) recent Series A this is a red flag.
You have every right to do your due diligence on them. On to the next one.
Doing the Diligence
In my previous post, I listed the most active Series A investors, and my advice to entrepreneurs was to start by pitching investors you know are actually doing Series A.
This is a list of funds who may be doing deals, have participated in Series A in the past, but have not publicly done a Series A in 6 months or more. The data is sourced from Crunchbase and includes investors who have previously participated in a Series A investment which was publicly announced, but not in the past 6 months. It includes active institutional investors as far back as January 1, 2012 who have participating in lifetime total deals of $20,000,000 or more (to reduce inclusion of angel funds). The list is sorted by total deal participation size, to show the most well-known investors first. Some of these investors are late stage in general, so they’re probably not great to pitch for your first round of venture funding but that doesn’t mean they’re not doing well overall.
Investors, have you been included in this list in error? Please let me know about a Series A deal you’ve done in the past 6 months (I don’t need the details, just your word) so I can get you off this list and onto the active Series A investors list. My email is morrilldanielle (at) gmail.com
Editor’s Notes: Updated to clarify that the Crunchbase data set only includes publicly announced investments.
I’m updating the list as I learn more from the community, and many investors below have been moved to the active Series A investor list.
I would like to express my appreciation to O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, MMC Ventures, Lightbank, Kepha Partners, Paladin Capital Group, Mercury Fund, Neu Venture Capital, Shasta Ventures, Genesis Partners, Magma Venture Partners, Kima Ventures, Greylock Ventures Israel, Softbank Capital, Carmel Ventures and Emergence Capital Partners for reaching out to provide data and help me confirm they are currently actively doing Series A deals in recent months. I have also removed late stage investors who do not typically do Series A deals, seed funds that do not do Series A, and biotech focused investors as I identify them.
Big thank you also goes to Shira Abel, who has been reaching out to Israeli VCs to get them updated and on the active list.
119 Investors Actively Doing Series A Deals Since March 1st
Strategy #1 for Surviving the Series A Crunch: If you must pitch, at least pitch investors who are doing Series A deals right now. It will save you time and heartache.
Despite the doom and gloom predictions about Series A Crunch there were 119 institutional investors (according to Crunchbase) who participated in a Series A round since the beginning of March 2013. I have
ranked them by historical deal involvement size, and as a rule of thumb companies nearer to the top of list list are more likely to lead Series A rounds and companies lower on the list are more likely to participate (there are tons of exceptions)updated the list, based on a great deal of helpful feedback, to show the funds alphabetically. I hope to offer more data on fund size and percent of capital deployed in the future.
Hey investors, do you belong on this list? Get busy! Or, if I missed your deal let me know and I’ll update it. My email is morrilldanielle (at) gmail.com – I am actively updating this list regularly.
Active Series A Investors January 1, 2013 to Present
Startup Investment Hits 3.5 Year Low in December, Q1 M&A Slowest Since 1995
According to investments reported in the Crunchbase database, this winter investment dollars flowing to startup companies reached low point not seen since May 2009.
Even more concerning, on Monday the National Venture Capital Association reported that venture-backed IPO exits fell to a 3 year low in the first quarter of 2013, while M&A was at its lowest point since 1995.
According to the article:
The number of venture-backed IPO exits during the first quarter of 2013 fell 58 percent compared to the first quarter of last year. For the first quarter of 2013, 77 venture-backed M&A deals were reported, 10 of which had an aggregate deal value of $984.3 million, a 73 percent decrease from the first quarter of 2012. This marks the slowest quarter for number of disclosed deals since the first quarter of 1995*, when eight disclosed deals were completed.
“First quarter IPO and acquisitions activity is often subdued as year-end reporting and forward planning take priority, but this year political, taxation, and sequestration concerns weighed even more heavily on the exit market for emerging growth companies. Therefore, activity was especially slow,” said John Taylor, head of research for NVCA. “That said, public market valuations have been up recently, 2012 financial statements are being finalized now, and quality companies tell us they are starting the process toward an exit later in the year. Despite having waited for the right opportunity to move forward, the 2013 class of companies that goes public or gets acquired will have to be solid. Barring significantly adverse events, we expect stronger volume in the second and third quarters.”
I’m unclear why the tech press did not report on this, and can only speculate they were too busy curating lists of April Fools Day pranks to notice. Or maybe they thought this was a bad joke from the NVCA?
Indexing the Andreessen Horowitz Portfolio Companies – Pinterest, Twitter and Github on Top
Over the past few weeks I’ve been indexing groups of startups, starting with the Y Combinator index and 500 Startups index. I’ve received a lot of requests for other indexes, and the company whose portfolio everyone wanted to look at was that of the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
Andreessen Horowitz has an impressive list of exited companies in 3 IPOs (Facebook, Groupon, Zynga) and 3 acquisition from high profile companies: Nicira (acquired by VMWare), Instagram (acquired by Facebook), and Skype (acquired by Microsoft).
For this post my research covers companies that have not yet exited.
Andreessen Horowitz Consumer Startup Index
Andreessen Horowitz Enterprise Startup Index
The enterprise index is entirely based on traffic at this point, since Facebook MAUs aren’t useful for this segment of companies. We are working on collecting more useful revenue / unit economics data for ranking these companies and know this does not accurately reflect their progress. For example Apptio is in the #31 spot but is preparing for a possible IPO.
The index takes into account website traffic ranking globally, as provided by Alexa, along with a weighted average of Facebook monthly active users (MAUs). While traffic is only one part of the story, how it changes over time can provide a useful proxy for evaluating how the company’s reach and attention received from others. There are many other indicators of a companies health that I will take into consideration in future indexes, but for now this is presented as a very simple overview of the companies. I split apart the consumer vs. enterprise companies to make it more of an apples to apples comparison.
I have also included Quantcast rankings, as many people seem to think they are more credible. Overall I found their data set had too many gaps to be useful, although we may weigh it into the average in the future.
Editor’s Note: This is the first index of this portfolio so it does not show each company’s change in rankings over time. I will show that in the next index of this portfolio, one month from now.
These companies are taken from the AH website, Crunchbase, AngelList and other public announcements. If I missed something please let me know in the comments or email me at danielle (at) refer.ly
Numbers in Action
If you haven’t heard, Referly is switching gears to avoid becoming a “Zombie Startup”, and we’ve already posted a high level summary of our metrics on the front page of our site. This post is part of my ongoing retrospective, which is helping me get some closure while we incubate our next direction as a company.
Until 3 weeks ago I woke up early every day, eager to check our internal dashboard, Amazon Associates and Skimlinks and update a couple spreadsheets, set a goal or two for the day to keep us on track, and send an update email to the team with any adjustments to the week’s plans. There’s nothing I love more than operating the day-to-day. It was a joy to plow full steam ahead with our team of 8 content, engineering, and outreach folks. Seeing these numbers drop over the past few weeks has been painful, so after I post this it will be the last time I visit these operational tools for awhile, and probably my last post about Referly until we share what we’re doing next. Memento mori
I offer these metrics to you without analysis… and look forward to answering your questions and providing more insight in the comments depending on what you’re interested in.
Weekly Pace & Contributur Stats At A Glance
Each week we’d set goals for the week in our Monday team meeting. At our peak, we produced nearly 100,000 pageviews in a single week. The “X Created” stands for collections created. Engineers were asked to created 7 per week (and they were awesome!), everyone else on the growth team (myself, Andy, and our wonderfully creative interns) created 20-40 depending on our goals and the seasonal campaigns going on.
These show 0 created for everyone because this is a snapshot from today, but normally this would show the number of feature-worthy collections created (has cover photo, title, description, at least 3 pieces of content).
Daily & Monthly Stats
For each metric the graph on the left shows daily stats for all time, and the graph on the the right shows daily stats for the current month (so you can see more detail).
Show Me the Money
You might be wondering why we didn’t share a graph for revenue or gross merchandise sold. This is intentional. I believe that whatever you measure and share is what people will focus on. Having a dashboard for individual revenues earned, or each aggregate revenue, would distract us from our number one priority: creating awesome content people would love reading and sharing. While I tracked this data and shared it with the team periodically it was never the focus of their attention. I set out content generation and traffic goals based on the ultimate revenue goal, but revenue wasn’t something the content team worried about from day-to-day.
Sometimes I wonder whether we would be pivoting now if every person in the company had been focused on maximizing revenue in every piece of content they produced from day one. While I think we might have earned marginally more money in the short term, I think the quality of our content would have been much lower overall and ultimately we wouldn’t have been able to attract the right readership or community of content producers.
To Be Continued…
Over the past year I’ve shared more about Referly than I ever expected to, and I hope seeing these metrics gives you (especially other founders) a sense of what things look like under the covers of a company that is growing, hitting goals and getting PR. Personally, I have learned so much about how to operationalize a technology-enabled media business that consistently puts out content that drives meaningful traffic and keeps people coming back. While we are no longer paying rewards, people from our community of more than 25,000 writers are still logging in and producing new content every day with our awesome edit-in-place CMS. You can absolutely sign up to use Referly as it is today (this link can’t be found on the site, just a little perk for my readers!), and you’ll be among the first to hear what’s next.
Do you need to create a business dashboard for your company? This one of my favorite things to do as a company mentor/advisor, and right now I am looking for opportunities to try different approaches and use some of my spreadsheets and other graphing and analytics packages. If you are interested, and willing to pay for my time (in money or beers or coffees) please get in touch at morrilldanielle (at) gmail.
Watsi and the Future of Patronage
This post is part of my continuous coverage of Y Combinator Demo Day for the Winter 2013 Class. You can see all publicly launched companies from today’s presenters here, Watsi is currently ranked #7.
While Watsi will probably not take in capital on traditional VC terms, I hope they can capture the imagination of some folks in the audience and gain new donors.
Today Watsi, a non-profit for funding medical treatments, is presenting on stage at Y Combinator Demo Day by cofounders Chase Adam, Jesse Cooke, and Grace Garey. The company made quite a splash back in January when they were announced as the first non-profit to receive funding from YC.
Hilarious by @paulg “There’s one company here today that’s a nonprofit. An intentional nonprofit!”
— Sundeep Peechu (@speechu) March 26, 2013
I am admittedly a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to donating to charity, but after seeing Watsi present yesterday and reading this post “The Bacon Wrapped Economy” about the end of cultural patronage as we know it, it got me to thinking. Maybe this is exactly the kind of platform people like me can get behind.
The East Bay Express paints a bleak picture the future for philanthopy, suggesting that our outcomes-focused giving will fail to build the kinds of institutions that have perserved American culture for the past 300 years.
And according to Medak and other members of the art world, it’s not just the donors themselves who are changing; it’s the entire ethos â€” and that may mark a change in a system that’s been more or less the same since the Renaissance. “A lot of those philanthropic dollars are now going to programs with measurable outcomes,” Medak said. “This shift toward a more transactional relationship in philanthropy, where you give something and expect to get something concrete back, has continued to escalate. The entrepreneurial infatuation we have now â€” and I don’t mean that in a loaded way â€” comes with a notion that the things we’re investing in should have a potential to [make] returns. It’s antithetical to the kind of philanthropy that has built institutions in this country.” Medak didn’t mention the logical, eventual corollary to this â€” that an end to institution-building philanthropy can also mean an end to the institutions themselves â€” but it doesn’t feel entirely far off.
I’m not so bearish. In fact, I wonder if the Internet can finally bring the meaning and accountability that has been lacking for young donors who won’t be building a hospital in their name, but simply want to feel they’ve made an impact on an issue they care about.
Old Money, Old Mindset?
The post goes on to explain that most patronage typically comes from older generations who have had a lifetime to accumulate their wealth. I can hardly complain – visiting the local museums, structures, monuments, artwork and other results of this philanthropy is a pleasure. I would never make the argument that this is an either/or situation where all funds should move away from arts and toward solving the world’s problems.
However, I think charitable giving needs to be aligned with the values of the people donating money, and it’s possible that those values have shifted for a younger generation toward institutions that solve real world problems.
In the case of Watsi, the public is clearly in support of a new institution that works to support those in need of medical attention around the world. Operating like a startup and providing an unbelievable amount of transparency is mostly a marketing gimmick today, but long term it could reset the expectations for a new generation of givers.
Today’s Demo Day at the Computer History Museum attracts high net worth individuals, investors and professionals looking to put their charitable giving to work, so while Watsi will probably not take in capital on traditional VC terms I hope they can capture the imagination of some folks in the audience and gain meaningful new donorship.
Wish them luck today, and take a moment to make a donation to Oumar, a 19 month old child whose life is threatened by meningitis and chronic epilepsy. He needs just $1370 to save his life, and 100% of your donation goes directly to his treatment.
It’s been 2 years since @chaseadam17 imagined Watsi.org. Today we’re pitching at @ycombinator‘s Demo Day twitter.com/watsi/status/3â€¦
— Watsi (@watsi) March 26, 2013
The Y Combinator Startup Index
In a former life I served as Editor of Seattle 2.0, and one of the most popular pieces of content we produced was the Seattle 2.0 Index – a monthly ranked list of all the local startups. It was a labor of love by Marcelo Calbucci and I was never a part of making it, but I always loved seeing how my favorite companies were doing and discovering new ones. I always thought it would be fun to make something similar for Silicon Valley, but it turns out there are a lot more startups here (I know, I know). To test drive the idea I’m starting with the companies from Y Combinator who haven’t exited, and are still operating.
There are plenty of flaws with rankings like this because traffic and Facebook monthly active users hardly tell the full story of any company and it compares web to mobile, social to enterprise, and on and on. What is valuable is seeing how things change over time. This is the first index, so it doesn’t have the month over month comparison. What it does reveal is that some companies you might not hear about every day in the press are doing really well.
Important: This does not include companies in the current YC batch.
Take a look, let me know what you think, who I missed, or any other feedback. You can read about the methodology at the bottom of this post. I will update this with any corrections and leave an update note.
The ranking is based on Alexa traffic rankings first, and Facebook monthly active users second. Right now it doesn’t factor in the iOS or Android rankings because the data is very limited. The MAU numbers are weighted as a percentage of the total MAU across all the companies, multiplied by ten, and subtracted from the Alexa rank. It sounds simplistic, but looking at the list it seems to make sense. I’m open to feedback on mkaing it better.
To get the full effect, press play on the track above and start reading.
This post is a more in-depth commentary following our announcement yesterday that Referly will discontinue paying users cash rewards for generating purchases at the end of this month. Referly has pivoted and you can read more about our new direction here.
My greatest fear as a startup founder isn’t to fail, it is to become a zombie startup. Kind of like in the 6th Sense when Bruce Willis doesn’t realize he is dead and tries to have a nice dinner with his wife, there are startups out there who are still “operating” but might as well not be.
It can take a long time to die. I’m not going to name any names, but you could simply cross reference yclist.com with alexa.com, and any company that shows little to no growth in web traffic in the past year that claims to still be operating is probably a zombie. Yes, even companies that focus on mobile or enterprise sales should see healthy growth in web traffic at the early stage.
With just the $150,000 each of my Y Combinator batchmates received last summer, many can continue to work on their company or change direction several times. It has been 6 months since Demo Day and I don’t think anyone has officially died. So I’ll say it. Referly died. It’s not the kind of dead where the website goes dark and everyone gets jobs somewhere else. But the idea that we started with turned out to be the wrong one, so we killed it and yesterday I acknowledged publicly to ourselves and everyone else that we have to change our course.
Helpful Things Investors Say
Over the summer when the seed market was hot and we were raising money pre Demo Day like gangbusters I seriously considered raising our Series A, or some kind of Series Seed style equity round. To feel out the situation, I spoke to some investors who had already put money into Referly and asked them what they needed to see from us in order to raise the equity round we were contemplating. I’ll never forget this feedback, which I will paraphrase since I didn’t write it down:
“The biggest problem we see with early stage companies coming out of YC, or really any program, is that they’ll approach a year or two after they’ve graduated to raise a seed round. It’s exciting to see they’re still alive and pursuing their vision, but then we ask about the growth of the team and the ways they’ve been capturing the opportunity of the business in the time they’ve had… and discover everything is the same. The same 2 or 3 people, the exact same idea, very little growth around key metrics like engagement or revenue. So why should try raise a series A? What have they proved?”
Ride or Die
Sometimes I feel caught between two mindsets, one that encourages me to be a cockroach and survive no matter what and another that inspires me to overcome my fear of flying and take it to the next level circumstances be damned.
The biggest reason to charge ahead is that I don’t want to waste a single moment of my life in denial, in deadlock, in zombie mode waiting for something I can’t control change or expecting magic to happen. It goes beyond not wanting to. I simply can’t, won’t, would never give up precious days, weeks, months, years. And it’s not that I don’t have endurance for the schlep, but I can only summon that super-human power to fight for the right thing.
Referly Monthly Active Users
I bet if you showed this graph to investors many would tell you your startup is doing GRRRRRRREAT! For a blogging platform (where we’red headed next) this is awesome – for an affiliate referrals site this doesn’t matter. It’s all about revenue, and it wasn’t climbing at a commensurate pace.
Is Your Startup a Zombie
How do you know if you startup is falling into this trap? Here are some hints:
- You don’t want to get out of bed in the morning
- You don’t want to go out in public for fear you’ll have to explain what you do
- You haven’t hit 10% week-over-week growth on any meaningful metric (revenue, active users, etc)
- You’re working on the same idea after 12+ months and still haven’t launched
- You’ve launched a consumer service and have less than 2% week-over-week growth in signups
- You’ve launched an enterprise service and have less than 2% week-over-week growth in revenue pipeline
- You are the CEO and hole yourself up in the offices so you don’t have to talk to employees and can read TechCrunch
- You’ve hired consultants to figure out revenue, culture, or product in a company of less than 10 people
- You’re at SXSW right now reading this post and trying not to cry
Update: I’m not saying you need to hit 10% growth every week, but you should have hit it at some point like launch or some other PR event.
Turning Things Around
Does any of this sound familiar? If so, don’t panic – you can fix this. The first thing you need to do is acknowledge the reality of your situation. From there, figuring out what to do next is a lot harder and a very personal and contextual decision, but you should embrace it with vigor. Don’t waste single moment of your life, or the time of those on your team, to begin plotting the next step. Paralyzed? Yeah, I know that feeling. Just plow through it, there really is no other solution. Along the way you may consume dozen of beers/shots with good friends over long circular discussions they tolerate because they love you. Do that, and then get back to work.
I’m not an expert at figuring out what to do next, I mean I just changed course on an idea that took me 3 years to start and another year to prove didn’t work. But whatever… the point is that no one is going to tell you that your company is a zombie. Except me. Don’t waste your 20s, or 30s, or 40s being a zombie.
Worst Case Scenario
Flame out hard. That’s my only backup plan, because doing the silent fail is for boring. Failing is failing – do it up right!
Zombie — Photo Credit: jamesrdoe on Flickr
Solve the Problems Your Parents Have
WTF is getting old, our generation wonders. I think ageism runs deep, especially among the tech set who assume older people must be Luddites and by extension lower life forms. I’m not joking, I know people who feel this way – and when was the last time you had a conversation with tech with someone over 50?
When I was recently graduated from High School and working as a barista I did a lot of odd jobs to make extra money, and one of my favorites was helping people set up their computers and Internet and learn to use them. This is in 2004, and all my clients were in their late 40s and older. I was setting up Earthlink and AOL dial-up in 2004!
This is a photo of my parents, but I can totally imagine it being a photo of any 20-something couple I know. Are they really so different from us? What can we learn from them? What problems would they pay to solve?
When did “talk to customers” get substituted for “talk to people who are really similar to you”? Most of the people I know who claim to be talking to customers aren’t getting very far outside of their own demographic circles. Whenever I go home to visit my parents, which is every 2-3 months, I’m reminded that there is an entire world of people out there with problems vastly different from my own. My “first world problems” feel more like “person under 30 problems” when looked at through this lens.
Your Parents Have Money
Even parents of small means accumulate some amount of wealth (or debt) over time, so money management could be a real challenge, hassle, and source of stress for your parents. Combine this with the fact that they didn’t grow up using the computer, and you’ll find that even though there has been a lot of innovation in online banking, investment management, etc. it is very possible that they’re not using those tools.
If your parents have accumulated some wealth, or if like mine they run a family business or consulting practice, then their taxes and estate planning are also complicated. You, 20-something engineer, probably haven’t written a will. But your parents have, and they worry about that alongside things like a mortgage that might be underwater since 2008, mounting repair costs for their home (leaky roof, sagging wall, etc). Your parents probably worry about so many things you aren’t even aware of – sometime you should ask them to write down a list of everything they worry about. You’ll be amazed.
Your Mom is Going Back to Work After 18+ Years
I was very fortunate to be raised by a Mom who choose full-time parenting as her profession, but now that my sister and I are out of the house she’s figuring out what to do next. In her case she’s taken an active role in the family business and gotten more serious about her equestrian hobby. But for many families the full-time Mom either gets bored or wants/needs to contribute financially. How is someone who hasn’t been in the workforce for 20 years going to find a job, build skills, and gain the confidence to put herself out there? What job should they even apply for? There is probably a huge opportunity to 1) employee these people in your company and tap into deep life and professional knowledge 2) create a content/jobs site devoted to the over-50 professional lifestyle, jobs, etc.
Your Parents Have Kids (You)
Most of the people I know don’t live near their parents, so communication is a challenge. My parents have tried using Facetime and Skype with me, but neither of those services really stuck and we reverted to mostly phone calls and occaisonally email (in the past couple years). To be clear, they’re not Luddites, its just not a satisfying way of staying connected. Often I wonder if services for couples like Pair and Avocado would be even cooler for me and my Mom and Dad.
A Lot of Your Parents are Divorced or Widowed
An unfortunate statistic, but many of you have parents who will enter their later years alone. One thing I think is missing in the world are tools to help people over 50 continue to date. I don’t think sites like Match.com or OkCupid are really catering to that demographic.
Another thing I think is missing, or just starting to get addressed, is the need for skilled at-home care for the elderly who wish to avoid retirement homes. TenderTree, a company I mentored in a recent 500 Startups batch, is the beginning of this… and there is a land grab to come in lifestyle management and healthcare. Another great on is Eligible Web Services.
Your Parents Are Approaching Retirement
WTF is retirement, our generation usually asks. But it is very likely your parents have built their lives around the idea that in their mid-60s they’ll trade their full time jobs for a monthly social security check, and begin drawing on whatever retirement funds they’ve been setting aside. Most people grossly underestimate how much they will need to save in order to maintain their quality of living, so at this point there are two options: reduce spending or go back to work. The 60+ DIY community is incredible. Can you imagine what Etsy is going to be like when all the sellers using it right now are in their 60s?!
Your Parents Have Health Conditions
One unfortunate aspect of aging is that health conditions develop, or are exacerbated. From mild allergies to chronic conditions to memory loss, bone density loss, and on and on and on. Young people, with our invincible bodies and racing minds, struggle to grasp the frustration of losing aspects of youth. I think our parents feel old just talking about these things, but it bothers them and secretly worries their kids.
Its not that I want to manage my parents’ lives, but I do wish they could live forever, so it would be great to see technology that changes the parent/child conversation around regular physicals, diet, exercise, etc. For parents with severe or terminal conditions (broken bone, major surgery, cancer) I think there is huge opportunity to improve the experience of treatment, advocacy, ongoing care, and ultimately hospice when the time comes.
Your Parents Are Going to Die Someday
I hate writing that subheader, but it is true. Beyond the logistics of health, travel, care, money, and everything else that goes into operating the day-to-day of life there is the emotional side of living and loving each other. Where do the memories go? How will technology change how we capture and store photographs for grandchildren who never see your parents. All those things they’ve saved over the years have so much meaning, but how will you deal with that when they’re gone. They worry about this long before they should, and Facebook has barely scratched the surface of dealing with death.
I sometimes wonder that there aren’t more family legacy website (they do exist) storing all these keepsakes for future generations, providing private logins and access. I also wonder about the physical storage of keepsakes like an ancient wedding dress, photo of my great great grandfather shaking Henry Ford’s hand as he received the 9th Model T off the line, a gold watch (also a gift from Henry Ford) with a sweet engraving, my Grandfather’s partially written World War 2 memoir found on his Mac after his death, everything that smells like my Mom… and on and on and on.
Someday You Will Be Like Your Parents
Selfishly, I hope we can start solving these problems now so that by the time I’m in my 60s I’ll benefit not only from a ton of technology geared towards an older generation (which will probably happen anyway since all the people who are in their 20s building tech will age right along with me). But what I really want is for my own parents and their friends to benefit even more from the web and other tech in their own lifetimes. I might get more years with them and their years spent on Earth will be more enjoyable. That’s just good business.
Being the “tech support guy/gal” in your family is actually a huge opportunity to observe all things that are broken, confusing, poorly marketed, and generally hinder adoption among our parents’ generation.