Ryan Caldbeck is on fire on Twitter right now. Ryan is the CEO of our portfolio company CircleUp, and he just joined Twitter for the first time earlier this year and is, I may say, feeling very comfortable in the medium. Over the weekend he put up a great diagram-oriented tweetstorm with a bunch of gems in it. I will focus on this one:
9/ So many people told me to focus even after I thought we were focused. They were always right. pic.twitter.com/GZeXzzNqnX
— Ryan Caldbeck (@ryan_caldbeck) April 7, 2018
Focus. It is one of the most common topics of discussion with startups, at board meetings, in pitches, etc. Are they/we/you doing too much? Everyone wants to win at everything, right now, so there is always an inclination to do more. Saying yes is easy; saying no is hard. Saying no means FOMO. Saying yes means opportunity cost (which is a little harder to internalize)
As broad as it may seem, the USV investment thesis is about focus. Over the years, that focus has a) helped us develop a deep experience and specialty in a certain kind of company / investment and b) saved us lots of time by making it easy to say no to lots of things. Today, we are seeing a new round of that kind of focus — I am particularly aware of it in areas like crypto/blockchain, where the groups/funds that are hyper-focused in the space and hyper engaged are way ahead in terms of their learning and network.
This is as true for individuals as it is for companies. Here, it’s maybe even harder. Who am I? Who do I want to become? What will get me there? Closing off any potential door is painful. But on the other hand, slowly progressing along a number of fronts is a recipe to get you nowhere.
In order to have focus you have to have conviction. That the thing you are focusing on, while not being everything, is enough of a thing to chew on for a long time — and is important enough a thing that if you really succeed at it you’ll accomplish what you want to accomplish.
It’s really not easy, but experience and repeated observations say that it’s really important.