I received evidence yesterday that some of the things Sabeer Bhatia said in his interview in Founders at Work were false.  The evidence indicates that (a) Tim Draper rather than Jack Smith had the idea of putting a Hotmail ad at the bottom of emails sent by the service, and (b) that DFJ didn't disparage Hotmail to other VCs interested in investing.

2/23/2009 04:05:53 am

This is interesting. I had read somewhere else as well about how DFJ tried to screw him over. Must say my impression of DFJ changed quite a bit after reading that interview. But, will probably need to change.

2/23/2009 05:11:48 am

Whether Sabeer's statements are true or false, founders don't do the diligence they should on their investors.

Entrepreneurs should pick their investors like they pick their co-founders: very carefully. It is easier to divorce your wife, kids, and dog than it is to divorce your investors.

During their fund-raising, every entrepreneur meets an investor or two who is apparently God's gift to entrepreneurs: "Oh, you should meet these investors, they are a really great bunch of guys." Of course they're going to be friendly when you have something they want.

An experienced founder once called me to do a reference call on one of his investors. He had already signed a term sheet and was closing the financing. His attitude was "better late than never." He was absolutely right.

2/23/2009 09:25:36 pm

I have met Draper Fisher Jurvetson a number of times over the past years. They are a bunch of arrogant guys who had a few lucky punches in the late 1990s. Since then there funds have not returned any money to investors, as evidenced by reading their LP reports since then. Tim Draper is a spoiled kid who has never worked a single hard day in his life. He scares away strong entrepreneurs, and makes claims that just aren't true. He definitely is not the inventor of viral marketing, yet he always boasts in interviews that "we kinda invented that here at DFJ." Besides, who cares?

2/24/2009 12:26:16 am

Thanks for making this post public Jessica. I, like many, were influenced by your book and the interview with Sabeer was among the most interesting. I'll take his words with a grai of salt, but your cred has remained solid. Looking forward to future work.

2/24/2009 04:15:46 am

Oh, and there is another guy by the name of John Fisher. He likes to sit back, smiling at you, and say "We have seen the movie a thousand times." Now, if a VC tells you this or similar bullshit like that, just walk out of their office. At least as far as I am concerned, I can see a movie ten thousand times, and I will still not be a good actor. So... Incidentally, Fisher has never worked in a real job before becoming a VC at a relatively young age. So what the hell does he know about building businesses? He hasn't sourced a single deal at DFJ that later became truly successful. Nothing. All the credit at DFj goes to the other guys. He was just tagging along Draper and Jurvetson all those years, making a bunch of money in the process. But he doesn't know shit. He is a generalist. The moment you probe him on some deeper industry insights, you can tell by his staring eyes that doesn't have the slightest idea of what you are talking about.

3/1/2009 02:34:27 am

until the evidence is displayed, its kinda hard to unanimously discount sabeer's words simply because you claim he lied.

not that your word is of any less importance mind you. its just that if sabeer were to say something negative about you by simply claiming he has evidence, i would ask him the same thing - show your evidence. until then it would be unfair to discredit you just because of someone's word.

p.s. i am really curious to see what kind of evidence will prove that DFJ didn't disparage hotmail to other VCs. did every single VC out there step forward to say that that didn't happen? it seems like a hard thing to prove.

3/14/2009 03:49:50 pm

I don't think Sabeer Bhatia has any incentive to lie about his former investors. If he is saying something about DFJ, I think by putting it together with context of having interview for 'founders at work', He was more pointing towards the potential pitfalls one can have. It is just my humble opinion.

I read your book 2 months ago. It is a good book!

3/22/2009 08:52:56 pm

Hi Jessica,

I loved your book so much (I am entrepreneur myself, so it was very motivating to read all those stories) that it inspired me to create a site with success stories from the Romanian web. I would be interested to post an interview with you about your experiences with this book, Y Combinator and the Startup School.

If you have the time to answer some questions, it would be great.

Many thanks,

Comments are closed.