DDQ: Discuss, Debate & Question VC Predictions for 2024

With Earnest Sweat and Alexa Binns,
Podcast Hosts, Swimming with Allocators
This week on Swimming with Allocators, your hosts Earnest and Alexa share their first DDQ style episode -- where they Discuss, Debate & Question one another on trends in venture. This episode Alexa and Earnest make their personal predictions for venture in 2024. They reflect on 2023's key events, such as the rise of AI, banking changes, tech layoffs, and remote work's evolution. The hosts predict more VC spin-outs, a contraction of key talent at the pre-seed, and the rise of a consumer juggernaut in the 2024 vintage. They also explore the potential for a non-software B2B tech renaissance and address audience questions on fund operations and diversity's impact on the industry.

Highlights from this week’s conversation include:

  • Discussing the Changes in 2023 and Lessons Learned (0:02)
  • Mapping LP Slots and Strategic Time Spending (4:22)
  • Momentous Changes in the Venture Capital Asset Class (7:55)
  • Uncovering Unspoken Messages from Allocators (9:17)
  • Venture Capital Predictions for 2024 (12:21)
  • Expectations for Seed and Pre-Seed Investors in 2024 (17:24)
  • The counter to VC and America (21:10)
  • Consolidation in the VC ecosystem (22:58)
  • Managing a zombie fund (24:34)
  • The rise of consumer investors (28:50)
  • Vertical applications for AI (33:55)
  • VC firms reopening funds (37:41)
  • Questions allocators should ask VCs (40:18)
  • Expansion and Experience (41:13)
  • Generational Change (42:12)
  • Emerging Managers and DQ’s (44:08)
  • Diversity in Venture Capital (45:55)
  • Progress and Challenges (48:17)
  • Final thoughts and takeaways (48:44)

 

Swimming with Allocators is a podcast that dives into the intriguing world of Venture Capital from an LP (Limited Partner) perspective. Hosts Alexa Binns and Earnest Sweat are seasoned professionals who have donned various hats in the VC ecosystem. Each episode, we explore where the future opportunities lie in the VC landscape with insights from top LPs on their investment strategies and industry experts shedding light on emerging trends and technologies. Follow along and subscribe at swimmingwithallocators.com.

The information provided on this podcast does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this podcast are for general informational purposes only.

 

Transcript

Earnest Sweat 00:02
Welcome to Swimming with Allocators. I’m Earnest Sweat and each episode Alexa Binns and I give you a VC podcast from the LP perspective. You ready? Let’s dive in. On today’s episode of swimming with alligators, you have us. You have our host, Alexa Binns and Earnest Sweat. Yes, let’s do all college radio. It’s yeah, we’re elderly millennials, we have to do that. But in this special episode is called DDQ where we discuss debate and question what’s going to happen in 2024 And what we’ve seen in 2023 DDQ is something usually Due Diligence Questionnaire that you know, all of you know emerging managers established fund managers have to deal with with the friggin beast. Yeah, long documents. But for us, this is going to be a fun can condensed conversation, where you bring in our opinions and what we’ve seen, you know, throughout our career, and especially the over this last 12 months, but also what we’ve heard and haven’t heard, and all of these interviews on swimming with alligator. So Alexa, just really happy to jump into this with you and anything that you want to start with?

Alexa Binns 01:36
I think something that’s been interesting is some people are super onboard to come on the show and share publicly everything they’re thinking. And some people have actually preferred to do one on one chats offline. And so I think this is a nice way for us to be able to share too, sort of the compilation of some of the anonymous conversations we’ve been having that are behind the scenes. Absolutely.

Earnest Sweat 02:02
So first, with that, let’s start with discussing. There’s been so much we want to start with all the things that have happened in 2023. And the lessons learned. And so just a few things that have happened in this year. Also, as a side note, the 20s have just been too much. Pretty much as sometimes my friends, my friends growing up with SE and getting towards for much of like a decade. It’s like I missed the 90 sometimes where it’s just like up into the right. And we ignore things but just a few things that have happened. So far. Gen AI has become a household name. Not only have you known your little cousin, but also your grandmother is probably using it at this point. We’ve also had substantial banking changes for the startup community with some bank runs and just like now startup banking being kind of democratized to a lot of different established banking communities. Third, major tech companies started off the year with huge layoffs. And we’ve seen layoffs throughout the year from startups to big companies like Metta, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. Fourth, big, you know, we’re all in VC for acquisitions and exits, a big one got broken up, Adobe and Figma. recently. And then lastly, after getting into this post, hopefully post pandemic economy, where does that leave us with remote work and headlines like, zoom, which benefited from the kind of like the remote work, even asking its employees to go back to the office? So

Alexa Binns 04:01
Thanks, streamline metta?

Earnest Sweat 04:04
Yeah, it feels like a black mirror episode. But

Alexa Binns 04:09
they’re like, it’s not that effective. So we’re gonna stop using it.

Earnest Sweat 04:16
So those are kind of just the headlines. Alexa, what’s kind of been some of the lessons learned? From your perspective? Yeah,

Alexa Binns 04:23
I think something that has started to happen in the back of my brain as we have these conversations with different LPS in different categories, whether that’s, you know, your high net worth individuals to your fund of funds and endowments is kind of mapping how many slots they each have on an annual basis. So I’ve got this sort of plot forming in my head. And like, what are those limiting factors that determine how many slots a given time type of LP has available, and how that could help you sort of strategize how you should be spending your time, as somebody who’s GP fundraising. I had no idea that apparently, every VC that was pitching founders was bragging about how Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon are LPs. And that’s a great example of a category of LP, like a Series A and later investor who wants to get access and early, early, early looks, who really has no limit to how many slots they’re gonna have a year. And a cool young upstart can come through, and they’re gonna toss something in, because to them, there’s only upside, versus some of these folks we’ve been having in private conversations, who are managing public money. The limiting factor is, it turns out, it’s really not the check size, it’s the number of opportunities to get a decision made. And so I didn’t really quite have, I guess, a full empathy for why somebody who is presenting the investment committee’s recommendations really has to come to the table with something that’s a clear yes. Like, you’re getting three, four, maybe five opportunities a year, to have the board review something, and anything that feels like a little bit risky, or kind of new, there’s a good chance that that’s going to waste one of your slots.

Earnest Sweat 07:26
Yeah, for me, one big lesson has been how big of a moment in time in the venture capital asset class it is right now. And how a lot of things are changing. And part of it is like, I don’t know, if there’s a surreal illness, I’ll just speak for myself in a moment and be like, Am I making too much of it? Because it’s a new experience? Or is it really that big? And a lot of things are changing? Or am I millennial and in high school, I had 911. When I started working, the great recession started. And when I had kids, you know, I had the pandemic, for the first time in 100 years. So it’s like, are we the new Silent Generation? That’s another thing that comes to mind. But I think after having a lot of these both, you know, interviews, as well as the private conversations, I was validated, there are a lot of things changing. And specifically for allocators, no matter if you’re a family office to you know, large endowment, public pension plan. Things have to change because trying to find that alpha for the next 10 years is going to be different than the previous 10 years. Yeah. Where we had low interest rates, where there was kind of like a more private equity approach to venture where you were doing financial engineering. And, you know, in this kind of roadshows to get bigger, bigger rounds without having the fundamentals, and now allocators understanding, no, we need to find true alpha that can have fund managers that can find the best companies that also not only can grow fast, but can have sustainable business models. And so that changes your diligence of what you’re looking for and fund managers.
Alexa Binns 10:24
Yeah. Are there? Are there points where you were sort of having to read between the lines at all on any of these interviews? Like, what hasn’t been said, that’s just as important as what’s been being said.

I think, what I have heard or read between the lines is people want to see and hear conviction. They want to see discipline, because we were, you know, generally the industry wasn’t as disciplined, shorter diligence times deploying capital at a faster pace. So when you as a fund manager, whether you’re taking over a fund or establishing your own fund, what are you confident that you’re good at that nobody else can really f with you on? Right? Not what you think you want them to hear? And so my view is always like, be self aware, be confident that nobody can out Earnest Or out Alexa you and find your ICP your ideal customer profile. And so that’s, that’s what I think I’m hearing from a lot of these allocators is like, what are you good at? And then you can’t control what my perfect portfolio already looks like. And if I’m overweight in which you do

Alexa Binns 14:40
Yeah, so yeah, no, that’s fair. I think I felt genuine , maybe it’s because these are the people who are agreeing to chat with us, but I felt genuine like, nobody here is trying to time the market. They’re all ventures. They’re all vegetables. Which was, I guess a little surprising you meet because I was expecting to hear a little bit more of like couching or, you know, bonds are really, like return you returning 1.6 Or x right now, you know, like I, I was I was sort of interested interested to hear that they’re, they’re not backing down. And, Roxanne Googin, who’s this futurist we had on the show, ended up following up with one more thought where she was like, wait, wait, wait, I gotta, I gotta say one more reason why venture is the place to be. And, and the TLDR is like, you have no real choice that, you know, I’m summarizing here. But it’s, in Roxanne’s words, cash is trash. And inflation has everything going down in value. So if you believe that legacy companies, if you’re just putting everything in the legacy companies, then you’re in danger in the long term, and the only safe place to go. The only thing that isn’t risky is change. And, the way to invest in change is venture.

Alexa Binns 16:56
That’s great. Hope that you all also had some key learnings or takeaways from listening to the past episodes, with our allocators. And we’d love it if you’re interested in sharing those with the community to see what the biggest takeaways were for you for the year. And now let’s transition into the next section of the DDQ, the second D for debate on the big bold predictions that Earnest and I have for 2024. We’ll see if we agree, I’m curious to hear Earnest. What is your first prediction?

Earnest Sweat 17:29
Yeah, I’m excited to see two, we have not shared these again, with each other. So this is off the cuff and edit it, but whatever. So my first bold prediction is, in 2024, there will be more spin outs of VC funds. But they’re going to come from larger funds and established funds, those individuals, and then a kind of slash to that is there will continue to be a VC free agency happening in 2024. So you’ll start to see in your LinkedIn, a lot of, you know, principles, partners, GPS, moving to new firms, or leaving the industry as a whole. So that’s my first bold prediction in 2020, for

Alexa Binns 18:29
some quiet quitting, okay, counter to that. If you’re at a place that’s got major brand recognition, and the LPs are all lined up, they’re all competing to get into the top decile funds, what’s motivating you to make this the year that you want to go raise on your own with a no name, brand new fund.

Earnest Sweat 18:54
Great, great counter. But I have anecdotal, private conversation data. So you know, I think we’ve seen this with individuals from top firms already and 2023 doing this, but I think it’s a combination of a lot of different macro events and then micro events as well. So macro we’ve seen the slowdown, despite the dry powder at a lot of these established funds. And so if you were promised that you had three bullets every year and now have been cut down to one essentially every year that heists another Yeah, that’s that’s that’s high stakes. But the analogy that comes to me is like, if somebody gets I know this is gonna sound stupid, but in college, I never understood how my GPA with one grade could fall harder. But when I got a great grade, it was like Okay. And so, obviously I know how to do it. But that’s like, I think that’s the feeling that a lot of people have is like, I started deploying, if I’m a junior partner or early GP I started deploying in 2015 2016 are more likely probably 2019. And up, and my track record isn’t that great or I wouldn’t, even if it is, is shaky on some of those investments. Yeah. So all that’s happening with, with capital tightening, right of all allocators being a little bit more like skittish on re-upping. And so if I can’t deploy an advocate, and I have a great track record, not to mention, maybe my management partnership is coming to me and saying, These next two, three years are really critical for you. Right, you need to add markups. Just any markup doesn’t matter as much when he returns. And so that puts a lot of pressure on those individuals. And this is a get rich, slow game. And so if you don’t have the comfort and the ability to like, actually invest in every decision, make that decision based on that decision and not on previous decisions. And having that bias, then you’re not, you can get lucky, but you’re not really set up to succeed. And so I think all those things are happening, where people feeling like they have the backing, if they have some LP relationships, it’s probably a good time to, to spin out an LPS are looking for new relationships, you also have a lot of established LPS fund funds, not MIT, I won’t say it’s the majority, but a lot of confident, fund to fund have told me that they’ve left some of the biggest names in venture because they don’t believe in the models anymore.

Alexa Binns 22:01
Yeah, they are in there. They’re investing across everything. And it’s just, yeah, it’s not focused enough. Interesting. Okay, I have to say, I think I had almost the exact opposite prediction was, if you’re a Series A investor or above, and this isn’t going to be an interesting thing to ask you, because this is where you play, not where I play. I think if you’re a series, an investor and above the world is going to be your oyster and 2024. And, and so you may as well stay where you’re at, because I think you’re gonna get back up to three bullets. Whereas I think if you’re a pre seed or seed investor, which potentially is where you end up, if you go out and you try to raise your own fund, just by what you’re able to raise, I think seed is going to absolutely blow in 2024. And my reasoning here is that tech disillusionment is super real. Like, then the number of people who were coming out of Hot-Co startup unicorn, who had seen a company go from, you know, zero to 100, and had the lived experience, the the teammates, and, and sort of the the real, real life experience of what a VC scale company requires. Everybody was willing to do it, they were like, I’m quitting this job, Uber, I’m quitting this job at SLAC. And I’m gonna go raise, because this is exciting. I want to have 50% of this instead of 5% of this. And now, all of those really driven people have seen their equity worth drop in half. Right. I am SVP, one of our killer partners on this show, has an annual biannual report and it came, I’m going to quote, If 2021 unicorns were marked to market based on 2021 IPOs, we would expect their total valuation to fall from 900 billion to around 550 billion. So that’s your net worth potentially has just on paper been cut in half. And you’re still just as smart and you still have all those technical buddies. And so I think the people that we used to be able to invest in are not going to be coming around passing the hat. If anything, they’re gonna decide, yes, I can build something myself, but I don’t know I don’t need VC. And those guys are going to sit in a room and just code on their own and Bootstrap until they have a killer product and they own 100% and they didn’t give us a chance to get in. Or they do have a VC appropriate business. And then it’s going to be frickin Doggy Dog to get into those repeat founder or are, you know, killer team deals, like everybody in their mom is going to be fighting for the same few deals that actually have teams that know what the fuck they’re doing. And alternatively, the people who just haven’t had exposure and like haven’t had, like, if you know, you know, if you know, you’re not necessarily taking VC, if you don’t know, you still think this is a great idea. Yeah. And those founders of the precede level, the seed level, are delightful. They are coachable, but they don’t know what the fuck they’re doing. And it’s a huge lift. And they’re going to make a ton of more mistakes along the way, everybody prefers to invest in repeat founders rather than new founders. Right? And so, it feels like when I was in college, and everybody this is at Stanford, we had just seen the bubble bursts, the tech bubble burst, no one wanted to go work in tech. This was in Palo Alto. That’s insane. So like, if you know, you know, so my argument is series A and above 2024 is going to be best in show, you’re gonna get to pick from the best in class, pre seed and seed, I think it’s going to be like going to the pound.

Alexa Binns 27:36
Okay, next, bold prediction. 2024 is based on this kind of tright laundry list of companies that everybody points to, when they say, Well, you know, what companies came out of the last recession, Airbnb, Netflix, Uber. You’ve definitely seen this quote, I’m sure. Yeah,

Earnest Sweat 27:58
I don’t I don’t think those people have seen the stock prices of those companies.

Alexa Binns 28:03
Well, yeah, yeah, apart from the Video Note that you don’t really want to own much right now. The thing those companies all have in common, is they all started as B2C and so my bold prediction for 2024 is that if you don’t have as an allocator some exposure to smart consumer investors you’re gonna miss out on the biggest winners of the 2023 2024 Vintage

Earnest Sweat 28:33
Wow, that is that I see the limb you’re on and it’s shaking now. This is great because you know I’m like Mr. Not cool. Enterprise investor and your consumer I get it you know, you’re

Alexa Binns 28:48
no enterprise has been where all the cool kids have been at, like, I don’t want to point fingers but 2021 2022 Those center points and best just got real smug. And

Earnest Sweat 29:04
they started when they started wearing Jordans or they just like cute, I’d never had any. And so now I see all of our generation as adults. I’m like, do they just make more now, like, everybody has Jordans but I’m

Alexa Binns 29:16
gonna post to our Twitter, this amazing breakdown of what Sam Altman wears on a day to day basis. And it is fly talk about like, this guy. Number one fashion influencer of the year, same slayers. So I think I think I get it. You’re picturing when you hear a consumer, a lot of people. They picture all the birds and Casper. And you’re like, you’re like yawn, yawn, yawn. No, I’m picturing like meta apple and Pinterest. And you know, the way people know that Pinterest is a $25 billion market cap company. It’s like, you’re not using it. That doesn’t mean it is a cash cow.

Earnest Sweat 29:56
Yeah.

Alexa Binns 29:59
Um, I think there’s a lot of good arguments for why enterprise instead of consumer,

Earnest Sweat 30:05
Can I go? Are you still building your boy? No, do it. I want to hear your arguments. So. So I wouldn’t expect anything else from you as your bolt protection, and I understand it. But my counter is I think that the enterprise smugness over the last like five years has been a particular type of investing in enterprise. It’s been enterprise only for the software industry. So it’s been SaaS for SaaS companies, infrastructure for SaaS companies, cyber for SaaS companies. And 81% is like my whole thesis, right? 81% of GDP is outside of the software industry. Yeah. So I think there’s a lot more.

Alexa Binns 30:54
You know, where that is, you know, where 70% of that 81% is.

Earnest Sweat 30:59
The other thing is, I think there’s a blend between, like you mentioned, I think there’s a blend between what happens in consumer and then it goes into small business to market and then enterprise, right, there’s expectations that change. So it’s a little bit of that. And so I think there’s a lot more opportunity, like I’m really bullish on the fact that I think that we’re going to have a new enterprise or just in general, b2b Tech, Renaissance that’s going to be outside of the software industry. So that’s my thing. My smug answer at first rebuttal was going to be Yeah, if consumer is like, whereas at wire, all my consumer VC friends now digital, health tech investors? No,

Alexa Binns 31:46
I think it’s because the LPs, like, have not been big. They don’t they don’t agree with this thesis. But to just put a little seed in your brain listening to alligators. I do think this is a hit space business. Yeah. And what you’ll hear from the enterprise investors, who you should be investing into, is, it’s, it’s great. It’s not a winner, take all the market, you know, there’s a bunch of us that are going to win. And I’m like, Oh, great. So you can, you’re limiting your upside, you’re like, I’m gonna just bet on bronze or bronze medalists, right, like, I don’t need to win the race. Why not? Give yourself a chance to get some gold medals, right? These companies are bigger. And even if they are the winner, take all the models there, you have a chance to get in on these on the ground floor. Put a couple in your fund, like put a couple consumers get. Make some bets there. Yeah.

Earnest Sweat 32:52
Enterprise investors. You heard it. Alexa CALLED US, Canada in the Summer Olympics. So no, no. So I agree with you. I see your points are valid. So that brings us to this interesting thing because it brings to my next bullet point. I think AI’s next step is going to be vertical verticalized applications. I think that’s what’s really going to create a moat. If you look at a lot of the open AI and other large language models. There’s this kind of debate like, who’s going to win? Is it going to be open source? It’s going to be proprietary and really, it seems like technology can’t just technology can’t be a moat anymore. And so either you own the proprietary datasets, or, like I’m saying and other people that you know, exactly. Or I think the other thing is like you own the relationships and the actual ecosystem. So that’s why I think we need to bring this technology to industries like real estate and insurance and retail, which are huge. And so that’s my next bold prediction.

Alexa Binns 34:13
Can you paint that picture for me more like what that looks like in real estate? I am your eager student Earnest.

Earnest Sweat 34:23
I think there are so many industries like real estate, like I think of my prior, one of my prior employees when I worked in industry, the number of people and this was a corporate right that deals with corporate clients. They dealt with so many different people touching a lease. And it’s like, do you really need seven people touching the lease and doing this? And so are there a number of the workflows that can be automated? Totally, I think that’s the biggest question.

Alexa Binns 34:57
Yeah, AI is super interesting. But I feel like there is a disconnect. If you are building for AI, you’re like, so passionate or interested in the future of AI, and probably just genuinely not that curious about signing leases. Yeah. But I think a lot of people are interested in solving this sort of thing, this tool can be used in any case, and they put it on you to figure out how you make it applicable to your job or your industry. And I do, I do agree with this prediction that there’s a lot of upside for those teams that are willing to go like, figure out how this is helpful for a very specific customer.

Earnest Sweat 35:47
Exactly. It’s gonna be about going to the customer. What’s your next?

Alexa Binns 35:53
I got one final bold prediction. Okay, just the hat Earnest is wearing is going to be the most sought after look of the season.

Earnest Sweat 36:05
Should you all be 2024. In

Alexa Binns 36:07
supporting what we’re doing. You can pick up swimming with alligators, Dad hat, on SwimmingwithAllocator.com.

Earnest Sweat 36:17
That’s a great way to end this section. With that. We’ll end with our last segment. Just questions. So moving into next week, we’ll ask some questions from our audience, as well as some friends. And we’re going to give our opinions on those. Those we would love for you all to like if you disagree, or agree, let us know on all the different social media channels. So first, we’ll start out with a question from our friend, Jenny fielding partner at everywhere ventures. She has mentioned that I’ve heard of two VC firms that closed funds in 2021. But recently asked LPs to reopen those funds to add more cash and extend the investing timeline for a few years. Basically, in other words, they look to dilute the frothy investing decisions and valuations of the earlier vintage. Alexa, why do you think well, how common is this? And what do you think is happening?

Alexa Binns 37:22
Totally. Um, I think extending the investing timeline is super common. I’ve been asked to sign off on extending the investment period of at least one LP investment makes a ton of sense. Depending on where you are in the, you know, food chain. I don’t know how common taking on more cash is, I think the argument for it potentially would be it’s a lower carry alternative to opening up a brand new fund, like why go out to market. And LPS may be down for that. But the two examples that I was able to find, thrive did open up to more capital. And I think this is a case of you’ve got to have something pretty juicy to offer. So Business Insider had published one anonymous story of a major endowment in the street came out in Feb, saying they had had to mark down thrives 2020 to fund 30%. And then September rolls around and CalPERS has put in another 300 million. And you maybe you’re scratching your head, you’re like why is this going on here? But they are a major investor in open AI. So the two examples of this that we’ve seen are that I know of bedrock and thrive both have opening AI in the fund. Yeah,

Earnest Sweat 38:44
I think it’s going to be those special situations. And I think it has to be with somebody who has because not everybody is going to be able to do this. It’s going to be an exception versus kind of the norm and you have Get some cache from experience as an operator or investor or both to be able to kind of propose this to current or new LPs. And I think ultimately they kind of human nature behind why LP would do this is because they’re, they don’t want to, they either want to get some more position yet fund and have more leverage for the next re up. Or if they’ve never been in this fund and want to do it. So totally

Alexa Binns 39:28
like, Oh, you’re calling me back?

Earnest Sweat 39:33
Yeah, every so thirsty,

Alexa Binns 39:35
don’t be so thirsty. Okay, next question is, yeah. Michael Shulman, who is the Chief Investment Officer at running point capital and recorded an episode with us, if you haven’t heard it, check it out. And he asks, okay, what’s the question allocators should be asking? The VCs they’re chatting with? And don’t forget to?

Earnest Sweat 40:01
One that I’ve heard that I’m not sure most ask is, what do you see for the future of the firm? And I’ve heard this as kind of one way to get filtered out very early, especially if it’s a new relationship, primarily if it’s a new relationship. And let’s say the situation is, Alexa is raising the seed consumer fund. And the pitch is that she has a $75 million fund. And she answers this question as Oh, and in five years, we’re going to have an enterprise partner, we’re going to have also like this huge opportunity fund or just a growth team. And that leaves you uneasy, because you’re already making a huge bet on this new entity. To then like, expand that scope. You should see it as, like, a whole new entity every time you expand, yes, what people want to do is like, double down and triple down on your already experience. So by the time you get to fund three, fund four, you’ve learned a lot of the mistakes and you should kind of be at your superpowers. So yeah, feel

Alexa Binns 41:14
like you’re in a slump. I think another good one to ask is, what colleagues of yours would you invest in? I do know my lane. And there are people who are so good at the stuff that I’ll never see, I don’t have access to and I don’t have a reputation for. And so those are some of the like, those are some of the GPS that I have put personal checks into our people who are doing something that like, I know how hard this sport is. And like I am investing in that guy like that, I think there’s some good recon.

Earnest Sweat 41:55
And last, lastly, I think for established fund managers or if it’s an emerging manager that’s, you know, in older Gen X or or Boomer. So in both situations, it’s critical allocators as what is your plan for generational change? Because alligators

Alexa Binns 42:20
need longevity, if they’re going to be pumping our blood into them? That’s

Earnest Sweat 42:26
Yes. Do you have a plan to be a vampire? Or do you actually have a secession plan?

Alexa Binns 42:34
For a bit at an organization where none of the partners ate lunch, because they were all fasting. And so they would have lunch meetings with founders, where the founders pretty much are supposed to be talking most of the time and it was like a lunch delivered. And all the partners have no food because they’re all on their longevity kick.

Earnest Sweat 42:55
I however, talking to us I’m like a huge faster, but not for not for like longevity sake, just like suggesting

Alexa Binns 43:03
like give your money to Earnest because he’s gonna live forever.

Earnest Sweat 43:09
I am 53 years old. So I think that’s a critical question, though, to ask Alexa, because, as I mentioned earlier, in this episode, so much is changing. And you should as an allocator want to invest in a franchise that’s going to be around for a minimum of four fonts and up. Yep. Next question is from our friends as a partner at first mile ventures. She asks, Do LPS expect to see DD cues from emerging managers with sub 100 million dollar funds?

Alexa Binns 43:49
Yes. I, from my experience, I’ve been with funds going from like a 20 million to dollar fund to a $60 million fund, for example. I think the DDQ, especially if you have multiple partners who are out fundraising is something that you should pretty much frickin just use to agree on how you’re answering questions, no matter what size you are. So it doesn’t necessarily have to be a public facing document. But it’s literally the questions that the investors you’re talking to you are going to have for you. It’s just at whatever size you are. And a good third of them literally won’t apply. Because you’re like, No, we don’t have this and that type of insurance yet, etc. So, I think you may as well just start a DT Q document, no matter what you’re going out to fundraise for. And eventually, it’ll get filled in, the bigger you get. But that’s your reference document to make sure you’re all on the same page.

Earnest Sweat 44:58
Absolutely. Says more internal, like, just so you if you want to have your answers straight, and and have each individual who’s, you know, in the founding partnership, answering the same way, maybe in different flavors with the same? Yeah, for an answer. It’s critical to have that.

Alexa Binns 45:16
You’re like, oh, we are sitting down to figure out what our strategy is for fun to you’re like, look, look at the DDQ. It’s going to help you outline what all the things we have to decide are our strategies. Final question. This one was anonymous in our DMS, will the founder NGP ranks of diversity continue to be diminished after the hashtag me too. And George Floyd’s murder?

Earnest Sweat 45:37
Yeah, this is something that I’ve been thinking about as well as like, observing as a founding board member of black VC, and so it’s something that I’m really attuned to. And I think organizations have emerged, like VC, Latinx, VC, and all arrays that have promoted kind of like, Hey, this is an issue and I think they’ve stayed on top of it. And I think we’ve also seen the ranks at the of entry points, whether it’s analysts, pre MBA, post MBA, mid career increase, but the worry is that the like, the actual check writers, and yeah, leaders of the fund, I’m starting to see a lot of those people spin out or move from different funds, whether they’re female investors or underrepresented communities. And so it feels like we need to get back on this issue. And have a combination of not just people starting their own phones, as we’ve outlined today on like, how important and challenging that is, but also be in the ranks of the established funds to

Alexa Binns 47:05
totally No, I It reminds me actually of an interesting tribute article that was written to I guess it was when Chelsea Sandberg was retiring. But it was like, there was an era in tech, where suddenly we had these female execs. And it was exciting. It was like okay, this is the beginning of a new era or we’re going to have everybody running companies and then you saw Meg Whitman retire and like no one came up after them. It was like a blip and so I do think it’s naive of us to think things are always getting better. Yeah,

Earnest Sweat 47:55
I think progress generally goes like that. Yeah, I did a hand motion in the audio medium, but essentially he’s not doesn’t always go straight furnace

Alexa Binns 48:07
I just did the worm. You all couldn’t see it, but he was way down on the ground. Yeah, exactly.

Earnest Sweat 48:14
So that is our first DDQ episode. Thanks so much. Want to thank our sponsors? You know, Gundersen passes through the SVB canopy for their support and supporting us. Before we had one episode recorded. I want to thank all of our friends, listeners, and other swimmers still workshopping that name. But I want to thank you all for joining us on this journey. Continue to subscribe and share. And then I personally want to just thank Alexa for going on this journey taking significant Ditto. Coming up with this amazing name that people Well either love or hate. Thanks for co-hosting this with me and I look forward to sharing more episodes with everybody.

Alexa Binns 49:05
Thank you all for being part of this.

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The Hosts

Earnest Sweat

Earnest Sweat is the Founding Partner of Public School Ventures, a dynamic syndicate of over 600 technical operators, go-to-market specialists, and LPs. Previously, Earnest built new venture capital practices at Prologis and GreatPoint Ventures. His focus is on investing in value chaintech, specifically vertical SaaS, applied AI, middleware, and B2B marketplaces, which are poised to revolutionize foundational industries like real estate, insurance and supply chain. Earnest has sourced and led investments in companies such as Flexport, Flexe, KlearNow, and Lula Insurance.

Alexa Binns

Alexa Binns is an angel investor and LP. An experienced investor and operator, she has climbed the ranks from associate to partner at Maven, Halogen, and Spacecadet Ventures and built digital and physical products for Kaiser, Disney, and Target. Alexa has worn every hat in venture from fundraising to sitting on boards. She invests in companies with mass consumer appeal, focusing on the future of shopping, health/wellness, and media/entertainment. Key angel investments include The Flex Co, Sana Health, and Chipper Cash.

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