Click to viewMost venture capitalists I know are deeply insecure. Why? Because they're not entrepreneurs. Yes, it's true: The Valley's moneymen have a founder fetish. And the worst of the lot are the former lawyers, who never did anything even remotely resembling building a company, but retain the lawerly suspicion that they're smarter than their companies. I mention this because I've stumbled across August Capital partner David Hornik's intro video from The Lobby, his invite-only Hawaiian vacation masquerading as a conference.In the video, which he posted publicly to his personal blog, Hornik puts on a series of baseball caps — he wears many hats, yageddit? — from his portfolio of startups. A song plays: "You're my superhero, my knight in shining armor." Venture capitalist to the rescue! Hornik's wife and kids also appear. He's a family man! At first, I wondered if Hornik had actually made Lobby attendees sit down and watch this video en masse. Not so, I'm told; instead, it was preloaded on the free iPods everyone at The Lobby received, along with other self-introduction videos. The Lobby's schtick is that it has no formal schedule of presentations; instead of sitting in a room ignoring the video while Twittering, attendees can simply ignore the program outright, as it sits unviewed on an iPod's hard drive. I don't know what's worse: the image of Hornik inflicting his egofest on a captive audience, or the pathetic vision of him wandering around his own conference, wondering how many actually bothered to watch it. And that's why Hornik's a funder, not a founder. He has enough ego to make this video — but not enough ego to force it on people. He lacks the chutzpah an entrepreneur needs — and I suspect he knows it.
TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington is viciously critical of Web startups that make their users pay for their wares. But he's perfectly happy to charge party sponsors for booths. The return on investment was hard to find at TechCrunch's annual party held at August Capital's Sand Hill Road offices on Friday. The booths, in the midst of free booze, pretty people, and business cards to swap, went completely unnoticed. The party, TechCrunch's third annual event held with the VC firm, was unremarkable. But the afterparty was legendary. We got in and took photos of the whole thing.
Web 2.0 was hot last night. And I mean the kind of heat determined not by Technorati rank, but by the thermometer. Despite the stifling weather, San Francisco's Web stars turned out for a party Sarah Lacy threw for her new book, Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good at Otis off Union Square. The hole-in-the-wall, two-story bar couldn't handle the crowd, which spilled out on Maiden Lane. Slide CEO Max Levchin, the star of the book, stopped by with fiancé Nellie Minkova to congratulate Lacy, and then immediately left. Runner-up Jay Adelson, whom Levchin beat on page count, stayed longer, as did Twitter's Ev Williams, who came with his wife, Sara Morishige. Also in the crowd: August Capital VC David Hornik, who didn't even rate a mention in the index, despite inviting Lacy to his exclusive Lobby conference. A gallery of photos, after the jump:
David Hornik is a secretive sort; the venture capitalist tried (and failed) to keep his invite-only Lobby conference off the record. Even when he wants to expose himself, he stays guarded. At a SXSW panel where he judged the best of the worst website pitches, Hornik changed from a gold-hued paisley shirt to the VC's blue button-down uniform. Next time, David, skip the white T-shirt. That seems braver. The frame-by-frame strip tease:
Those crazy Sand Hill Roadsters never take up anything without trying to reinvent it. August Capital's Andy Rappaport is behind the New Progressive Coalition, an attempt to make political donations more palatable to investor types. NPC's 5 Step Guide presents some three dozen left-leaning organizations as if they were the TechCrunch 40. They lost me at "progressive," but Rappaport's Charles-Schwab-for-politics approach beats the heck out of trying to decipher Daily Kos. So lazy it just might work.
The venture capitalists spotted at this week's Lobby conference in Hawaii are not, we've noted, the Sand Hill Road dwellers who inflated bubbles past or present. No sign of anyone from Sequoia or Kleiner Perkins. So who is enjoying the tropical sun? Well, conference host and August Capital partner David Hornik, of course. Also photographed on the scene: Greylock's David Sze, SoftTech's Jeff Clavier, Foundation Capital's Mike Brown, Panorama Capital's Mike Jung, and Bay Partner's Eric Chin. Hats off to First Round Capital's Josh Kopelman, who is using his entrepreneurial skills to cash in during the scavenger hunt. (Photo by: bradley23)
If you notice a dearth of cashed-out entrepreneurs and rolling-in-it venture capitalists around town this week, you're not hallucinating. Today kicks off August Capital VC David Hornik's conference The Lobby, located on Hawaii's sunny Big Island. The conference is, ostensibly, "off the record," but we think some tidbits will manage to get out. We hear that the nonstop out of SFO this morning was filled with conference-goers. (This video of SoftTech VC Jeff Clavier and Dogster founder Ted Rheingold before takeoff makes the eerie observation that, if the jet goes down, so does Web 2.0.) Hear anything interesting coming from the Big Island? Let us know.
Newsweek, from 3,000 miles away, bills TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington's parties as "harder to get into than Studio 54 in its heyday." So much for the periodical's vaunted factchecking: I waltzed right in. And the scene? Last Friday's TechCrunch9 was, at heart, the same meet-and-greet that takes place several times a week somewhere between San Francisco and San Jose. Except on steroids. A reported 900 people showed up on the Sand Hill Road patio of August Capital to schmooze, deal, and — oh, yes — sucking up to Arrington in the hopes of a mention on his site.