Tuesday, March 13, 2007

How to Choose a VC?: Fred Wilson and the Pixies, and Human Tendencies

Here’s the sad thing about humans, we like people who appear similar to us even superficially. It’s probably hard-wired from the prehistoric days when we roved around in ten person packs and killed anyone who was a stranger. Fun times. (If you want more insight into pack mentality, read the early chapters of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel. )

Thus, I like Fred Wilson. Why? Because he’s as passionate about the Pixies as I am. I’ve never met the guy and yet I’d be happy to do business with him, because he has excellent taste in music.

Which is stupid of me. I mean, when you’re evaluating a potential business partner, someone who could easily mean the difference between the success and failure of your company, music taste shouldn’t enter into the equation.

Now, obviously Fred has been very successful. By all measures, he appears to be a good guy with whom to do business. But the reason I’d choose him over another VC isn’t his track record, it’s because he grooves on “Brick is Red”.

I think this is human nature and while I’m not proud to make business decisions based on musical compatibility (now there’s an interesting use for iLike), it absolutely influences my relationships with people...just like it did in high school.

Maybe if all VCs and entrepreneurs exchanged a list of their top ten favorite artists as part of the due diligence process, we’d all end up with better business partners.

So here’s mine, as of today, in no particular order:

  1. Pixies
  2. Weezer
  3. The Smiths
  4. Joy Division/New Order (yes, I’m cheating)
  5. The Magnetic Fields
  6. Barcelona
  7. The Clash
  8. Belle and Sebastian
  9. My Life with Thrill Kill Kult
  10. Curtis Mayfield
I doubt I'll have a hard time convincing Fred to post his favorites.

UPDATE: I was right, it wasn't hard. Fred responded within a minute of me posting this. Check the comments to see his top ten list. And after looking over Fred's list, I realized I forgot Belle and Sebastian. I updated my list appropriately.