Thursday, April 28, 2016

Non InCautus Futuri: Artis Ventures


Earlier this morning, AbbVie announced it was acquiring Stemcentrx for $10.2 billion, making it the largest venture-backed healthcare M&A event in the history of the industry. Lots of press is going to be made today about Sequoia Capital and Founders Fund having been an investor. What is going to be overlooked is that Stuart Peterson and Artis Ventures were the first outside investor in the Company leading a $20 million Series A financing by committing $17 million. Some folks may not be familiar with Artis Ventures or Stuart Peterson. Stuart is joined by his long-time partner Mike Harden. Who is one of the few Washington and Lee University graduates to go into venture (shout out to our alma mater). Mike and Stuart live the W&L motto non incautus futuri "Never unmindful of the future".  They think big and pursue BHAG: Big - Hairy - Audacious - Goals.  They are not investors in incrementalism. They have invested in some extraordinarily transformative businesses like YouTube, Stem CentRx, Cohesity, Nimble Storage, Juicero, Bracket Computing, Modern Meadow, Aruba Networks and Practice Fusion among several others. If you're wondering what the unifying theme is -- it's that Stuart and Mike are conviction-based investors looking to back companies and entrepreneurs making an impact in people's lives. They're not pie in the sky dreamers or impact investors, they are very savvy fundamental investors, paying homage to their very successful careers as long/short public equities managers. Stem cell oncology therapeutics could not be a more important initiative and curing small cell lung cancer could not be a more audacious goal. Perhaps most importantly, they are extraordinarily generous, kind and trustworthy people. Part of that comes from Stuart's childhood growing up on a farm and not forgetting his roots. Part of that comes from Mike's acceptance into a lifetime commitment to W&L's Honor Code.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Finding Saturday People

Last week was Holy Week and I should have written this post last Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, but it felt more important to write it this weekend as we brought home our second daughter from the hospital yesterday (a Friday). On Good Friday, the disciples didn't know that Easter Sunday was coming and that resurrection was on its way. They showed up on Saturday in the darkness, an unknowing place.  As my wife (Leah) and I move forward rearing our two daughters we seek to surround ourselves with "Saturday people". Friday people show up when there is a true crisis but are the loudest mourners. They rally at someone's bedside or walk in protest. But then Saturday comes and the spotlight is lifted and darkness and uncertainty follows. Sunday people show up for resurrection when the clouds have lifted and its time to rejoice. Saturday people show up for the wake, they show up for the ceremony and not the reception. Saturday people see the ugly tears and don't leave in the face uncertainty. They show up for chemotherapy treatments long after the diagnosis. Today is Saturday and my little sister is in town for the weekend helping Leah and I as we welcome our second daughter home with a spirited 22-month old on the loose. My sister (Emmy) is a Saturday person. 

Whether you're an entrepreneur, a venture capitalist, or a parent --- find Saturday people in your lives. Find VCs who help you through a crisis at your company or in your life and stand by you because they believe in YOU and dream with you. Find LPs who support you at the trough and lift you up to the peak that you both know is possible. Find LPs that believe in you as a person and want to help you build a business.  Ignore those who say they're not in this business to make friends or only care about performance. Yes, if you're a fiduciary, performance is the stick by which we all are measured. But more importantly, find Saturday LPs that believe your future performance is indicative of your current persona. Find Saturday LPs that call you to say you're doing a great job or understand how hard it is to have partner leave and ask what they can do for you. Find Saturday LPs that ask not what you can do for them, but what they can do for you.  Find Saturday LPs that believe in the Full Gospel of Venture Capital.