I woke up this morning with a pleasant, warm feeling in my gut about how thankful I am for all the people around me in my life. In particular, I was thinking about the smart, inspiring people with whom I am lucky enough to interact most days. So much of who I am and what I know is a result of this meaningful people network. I started to write a post actually thanking so many of you by name, but as the list got longer and longer, I realized just how many people I depend on to help me learn, think and shape my view of technology, society and the world at large. Thanks to Twitter, this list includes scores of people whom I really don’t know very well but their thoughtful missives arrive on my desktop multiple times a day. Wow, I am lucky.
The past few weeks have been a pretty stressful time professionally (this happens any time a VC is in hot pursuit of an exciting deal) and have caused me to think about how I conduct myself professionally. Way back in 2000, before the first internet bubble burst, I got a really close look at some nasty professional (or, to many, perhaps unprofessional) behavior. Yahoo! had bid a lot of money to buy Myplay and AOL was blocking the deal. A few of the key execs at AOL, well-documented many years later, acted with inceredible impunity and dishonesty towards other companies in the internet ecosystem. They clearly believed life was a zero-sum game. In order for them to win, others had to lose. I was taken aback by that ruthlessness and really wondered whether I had to adopt such a view in order to be successful in life. For better or for worse, I concluded I probably couldn’t make myself behave that way day in and day out. I am a relentless competitor, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t act vindictively or intentional work to make others lose for sport.
Over the past few weeks, I have had another close look at behavior resembling this point of view. Again, for better or for worse, I don’t operate this way. Life is just too short. I work hard to win, and I want badly to win. But I also want to keep my head up high and work with great, decent people. Venrock is a firm that holds these principles in high esteem. And as I looked around me at those closest in my professional network, I found the same true of these people. It is these folks who inspire me the most and help me succeed in a tough but fun industry. And for all of you, I am thankful.