I read about Zendesk’s recent IPO and texted congrats to my friend Jon Auerbach, who is at CRV, the firm that was the lead investor. I also checked out the CRV web site. I was totally blown away by their Manifesto.
First, very, very few firms articulate and then publish their values (we list Kepha’s Operating Principles here). So, I’m always interested when a VC firm does so.
Second, I really like how the Manifesto describes that a VC has to be “all in.” We say this all the time at Kepha. When you raise money from others, you do so in a legal fund structure that lasts for 10 years or more.
Moreover, if you are a part of the “Key Person” provision, then you are making a long-term commitment to the investors. You can of course “check out” without them knowing, but I don’t think they’ll be happy.
Maybe this is old school, but our team thinks that if you’re not convinced that you can work as hard in 10+ years as you can today, you should not raise that fund. Or, you should clearly communicate that to investors during fundraising, so that investors can choose.
Investing the money well is difficult (the first five years of a fund), but guiding the companies to successful outcomes (the next five-plus years), I think is even more difficult. So, it’s important to be all in for the duration of a fund.
Congrats to the Zendesk and CRV teams! You both are “all in,” clearly.