The best venture investors bring more to the table than capital. The most successful venture investors serve as active advisors, mentoring unproven entrepreneurs and propelling startups forward. So, what do such founder-driven investors look for in emerging talent? How do they teach the fundamentals of operating a business? How do they identify and then cultivate the SPARK it takes to build a company with the potential to change the world?
Keith Rabois is General Partner at Founders Fund, a VC firm focused on supporting entrepreneurs building revolutionary technologies. Keith is known for guiding early-stage startups to become successful businesses, and his impressive resume includes executive positions at PayPal, LinkedIn and Square. After 13 years in the C-suite at high-growth companies, Keith transitioned to venture capital, joining Khosla Ventures in 2013 and moving to Founders Fund in February of this year. He is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School.
Today, Keith joins us to share his approach to identifying unproven talent and mentoring young founders in ‘Rabois Bootcamp.’ He offers advice on building a team around the most difficult challenges and biggest risks the business is likely to face and explains the difference between hiring for value protection versus value creation. Keith also shares his uncommon insight on how Bitcoin adoption correlates with the rule of law and discusses the true measure of success in VC. Listen in to understand why Keith is more successful than the average venture investor and learn how he avoids mediocre returns by investing only when he has an unusual advantage.
Keith’s path to VC Entrepreneur, executive in high-growth companies Active angel investor (i.e.: Airbnb, YouTube, etc.)
Keith’s definition of success Identify undervalued people and propel forward Iconic companies with potential to change world
Keith’s insight on identifying talent Meet and assess large number of people Look for irrational confidence, unreasonable tenacity + skill
Keith’s approach to mentoring unproven talent Osmosis-like learning (build, run + operate business) Direct feedback on performance
Who Keith goes to for support Peter Thiel, close friends (feedback on big decisions) Young people most important in shaping views
Keith’s advice on building a team Identify most difficult challenges, biggest risks Find world-class to run point on each
Keith’s paradigm for risk reduction Value creation = raw ability Value protection = experience
Keith’s take on Bitcoin Adoption inversely correlated with rule of law Value prop in speculation
How Keith leverages his background in law as a VC Look for legal, regulatory risk Asymmetrical ability affords advantage
Why Keith focuses on $1M to $3M seed investments Invest early (team is only data point) Noncompetitive part of capital stack
Keith’s insight on measuring success in VC Smart decision based on available info Adjust returns based on risk
The most impactful thing Keith has accomplished Hire people with no entry point in industry Introduce to mainstream ethos of Silicon Valley
Connect with Keith
Jeff Jordan at a16z https://a16z.com/author/jeff-jordan/
Peter Thiel at Founders Fund https://foundersfund.com/team/peter-thiel/
‘How to Operate with Keith Rabois’ on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w19IBxDu2Y4
Keith’s Investment Criteria https://twitter.com/rabois/status/934099022603747329
Michael Moritz at Sequoia Capital https://www.sequoiacap.com/people/michael-moritz/
Connect with Boost VC