What I Learned During My Day With A Venture Capitalist : David Hirsch, Co-Founder and General Partner at Metamorphic Ventures
Updated on: 12 Dec 2015
EVER WONDER ABOUT THE CONVERSATIONS THAT GO DOWN ONCE A STARTUP SECURES FUNDING? OUR TAKEAWAYS FROM A DAY AT METAMORPHIC VENTURES.
David Hirsch, like most venture capitalists I've met, skews toward the hyperactive. When I met him at the office of his company Metamorphic Ventures, he jumped quickly from subject to subject. The venture capital firm was just moving into new offices on a tech-heavy stretch of New York's Park Avenue South. Furniture was being brought in from the hallway; Hirsch was eager to show a spray-painted mural of the Brooklyn Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge next to each other.
A large part of his firm's branding centers around bringing the East Coast and West Coast tech scenes closer together. Hirsch joked to me, a New Yorker-turned-Los Angeles transplant, that the mural should include the Hollywood sign as well.
In a telephone conversation, Hirsch—one of Google's earliest East Coast employees—explained his company this way: "One of the things distinguishing us is being a bridge between the East Coast commercialization—that is, categories like consumer packaged goods, financial services, and health care—with West Coast innovation and platforms," he said. "My whole Internet career has been about leveraging East Coast distribution with West Coast innovation."
At Google, he spent much of his career as part of their first wave of non-engineering, non-West Coast hires. Prior to that, Hirsch was at an Internet advertising network. In 1998, future Google exec and now-AOL CEO Tim Armstrong hired him at first-wave dotcom firm Snowball; the two joined Google in 2000.
As a journalist covering the technology industry, I sit down with venture capitalists frequently. But Hirsch and his publicist had approached me with an interesting offer earlier in the autumn: to stop by his offices, shadow him on a workday, and watch him meet with advisers and portfolio companies.
That's how I found myself in their office early one morning talking to Hirsch about his company's portfolio, which skews heavily toward advertising tech companies, payments firms, and e-commerce. One of Metamorphic's companies, fantasy sports site FanDuel, ended up facing huge legal headaches a few weeks after my visit, thanks to a clash with the New York attorney general's office. But there was no sign of that during my visit.
It wasn't a "true" shadowing—the mix of portfolio companies and contacts Hirsch met with were clearly devised for a visiting journalist—but the meetings were, well, damned interesting. Here's what I learned during my day with a venture capitalist:
YOU WANT TO BE EARLY—BUT NOT TOO EARLY 8:30 a.m.: Over coffee and the half-pint-sized bottles of Poland Spring water with pastry and fruit salad platters that are mandatory at New York and Boston morning business meetings, a patent lawyer, an angel investor, and a virtual reality expert were discussing the virtues of VR sonograms for pregnant women.