Steve Jurvetson appears to be starting his own venture capital firm

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Jurvetson is listed as the founder of a soon-to-launch fund called Future Ventures, according to the firm’s website.

Steve Jurvetson, the prominent venture capitalist who left DFJ in a messy split late last year, appears to be starting his own firm, Recode has learned.

Jurvetson is listed as the founder of a soon-to-launch fund called Future Ventures, according to the firm’s website.

“At Future Ventures, we support passionate founders who are forging the future. For the past 23 years, we have backed the visionaries who push the boundaries of possibility and explore the frontier of the unknown,” the website says. “We focus on disruptive technology such as commercial space exploration, deep learning, quantum computing, robotics, AI, blockchain, and sustainable transportation, synthetic biology and clean meat.”

The website refers to the firm’s “founders” as a plural, implying that other investors may be joining Jurvetson at the outpost. The firm has yet to file any paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Future Ventures website Steve Jurvetson bio page.
Screenshot from the firm’s website.

A Jurvetson spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment late Thursday. The website is registered in the name of Jurvetson’s former executive assistant and was updated in late March.

Jurvetson’s apparent reemergence onto the venture capital scene is not surprising — he is responsible for two of DFJ’s massive successes, SpaceX and Tesla — and that means he is likely to find a friendly base of investors, perhaps among several prior DFJ limited partners. His departure came amid internal tension at DFJ after the firm caught him lying about what it considered serious allegations, a source familiar with the situation said at the time.

“I am excited to move on and get back to my professional passion, helping great entrepreneurs forge the future,” Jurvetson said in a Facebook post in November shortly after leaving DFJ.

But it is still a quick rebound. Mike Cagney, the former CEO of SoFi, is also back with a new startup, as Recode first reported, after his company battled allegations of sexual harassment. Travis Kalanick, too, has restarted his life after being forced to leave his job.

Jurvetson, for his part, was accused by women of having several extra-marital affairs that, in the eyes of some, crossed into the professional world. No one has publicly emerged to allege him of sexual harassment. He has denied any misconduct.

Since his departure in November, Jurvetson has kept a low profile, though he has been making several speaking appearances on familiar topics, according to his social media pages.

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Here’s how 20 different venture capital firms are policing sexual harassment

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Dave McClure, who resigned from 500 Startups after allegations of sexual misconduct. 500 is one of the VC firms releasing its sexual harassment policies.

A breakdown of what some VC firms are sharing in new disclosures.

Venture capital firms have spent the last year grappling with whether they were equipped to handle sexual harassment complaints against their employees or their portfolio companies.

While some firms had internal codes of conduct. many did not have policies that similarly applied to the entrepreneurs they fund.

So that’s why it was newsworthy this week when about 20 firms this week publicly shared their sexual harassment policies, with about 20 more promising (we’ll see!) to share theirs upon request. There’s a wide range of detail in these so-called external policies collected by MovingForward, a new advocacy effort to push VC firms to be more transparent about how they police bad behavior.

Some of the already-posted policies are as short as one paragraph. Others are almost 10 pages long.

There are a few consistent themes:

  1. Firms almost all promise to be willing to terminate employees who violate the policy. That, of course, has not historically always happened.
  2. Firms are trying to get more serious about how sexual harassment is defined. Several even go so far as to list specific examples of actions that would qualify as a violation of their policies.
  3. Firms now consider entrepreneurs — who do not work for the venture capital firms — as parties to these agreements. Misconduct toward an entrepreneur is no different than misconduct toward a fellow partner.

Here’s a handy look at some of what stood out. We focused on the firms that actually posted what they considered their full, formal, lawyered policies, as opposed to an abbreviated version of it or a blog post that generally described their thinking on the issue.

  • 500 Startups: It’s notable that 500 is one of the first to publicly post their policy. Reminder: The leader of 500, Dave McClure, allegedly sexually assaulted the co-founder of the MovingForward initative, Cheryl Yeoh.
  • Andreessen Horowitz: “Andreessen Horowitz may take disciplinary action against an employee who exhibits poor judgment or engages in inappropriate behavior, even if it falls short of being severe or pervasive.”
  • Bowery Capital: Unusually, it highlights that the firm’s limited partners even are expected to follow the policy.
  • DFJ: The policy at DFJ is especially under the microscope given some of the actions allegedly taken by Steve Jurvetson, the firm’s founder. Jurvetson was ousted from the firm even though he has not been publicly accused of sexual harassment.
  • First Round Capital.
  • Flybridge Capital: Just two sentences.
  • Foundry Group: Probably the most detailed policy at eight-pages, Foundry — which invests in some other VC funds — promises to “conduct due diligence regarding past incidents of sexual harassment involving founders or GPs.” They also try to ask for prospective GPs they would fund to affirm in a side-letter that they’ve never been accused of harassment.
  • Homebrew: Homebrew posted the document it is asking its employees to sign and date, including a good amount of detail on its complaint procedure.
  • Kapor Capital: In addition to its policy, Kapor is sharing an “addendum” with four imagined situations that can be used for training purposes.
  • Norwest Venture Partners: Norwest emphasizes that they have a full-time exec who focuses on HR — not every firm has someone in-house to handle HR issues, a point of criticism for some advocates.
  • Refractor Capital: A very concise definition of sexual harassment: “Sexual harassment occurs when submission to or rejection of unwelcome sexual conduct is used as a basis for an employment or other business decision.”
  • Revolution.
  • Scale Venture Partners.
  • Spark Capital: Spark, interestingly, says that romantic relationships within a single chain-of-command — a gray area in Silicon Valley — “are not permitted.” Relationships outside it — think two people who do not report to one another — are OK.
  • Techstars: Techstars shared their Code of Conduct, which doesn’t have much specifically on harassment beyond promising to “ban or fire mentors, investors, employees, contractors” who harass others.
  • True Ventures.
  • Undiscovered Ventures: Two sentences also.
  • Union Square Ventures: USV says their policy applies even to non-USV employees on occasion: “If harassment occurs on the job or at a work-related event such as at conference or off-site meeting and by someone not employed by USV, the procedures in the policy should be followed as if the harasser were an employee of the USV.”
  • Zetta Ventures: Like Techstars, Zetta posted their Code of Conduct, which doesn’t have much guidance on harassment issues specifically.

Find something else in these documents that are interesting? Email me at teddy.schleifer@recode.net


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SoftBank is trying to poach young venture capitalists for its $100 billion Vision Fund

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That’s SoftBank’s Son on the right.

“Who hasn’t been offered a job at SoftBank?” some people joke at venture firms.

SoftBank’s Vision Fund over the last two months has been aggressively trying to poach rising-star venture capitalists, a flurry of attempts that has ruffled feathers among some of the people it is trying to recruit.

The recruitment would equip the $ 100 billion Vision Fund, mostly led so far by former bankers, with more startup experience.

The Vision Fund has retained the search firm Russell Reynolds to try and bolster its stable of vice presidents and directors, according to multiple people who have been approached by the fund. The recruiting effort has centered on younger venture capitalists at top-tier firms — think people in their late 20s or early 30s who are not general partners but rather rank a seniority level lower, such as principals or just plain old partners.

It’s the latest way in which the Vision Fund is competing with traditional technology investors in Silicon Valley: A battle for talent.

But there have been some hiccups. The firm has used impersonal methods, like LinkedIn messaging, to reach out to potential hires, which has rubbed some people the wrong way. The messages and tenacious recruiting effort have been a source of curiosity and even some ribbing in their offices, sources at three venture capital firms tell Recode, with some folks joking internally: “Who hasn’t been offered a job at SoftBank?”

To be fair, recruiting firms are always hustling for top talent, though some people say they wish the pitches had been more personal.

Venture capitalists are buzzing about the outreach in part because the recruiting experience at VC firms tends to be more organic and relationship-driven — courting younger talent gradually over lunches, through mutual friends and, for more senior roles, a sometimes years-long dialogue about the job. It isn’t uncommon for search firms to be involved at identifying possible hires, but the actual contact tends to come from firm leadership.

The Vision Fund and Russell Reynolds declined to comment.

The scouting does, though, make a lot of sense. The Vision Fund over the last year has hired about 100 full-time people — in London, in Japan and here in Silicon Valley — but the pace at which they’re deploying the capital calls for more manpower to help find and execute technology deals across the globe.

A hundred people may sound like a lot, but compare it to a big firm like Andreessen Horowitz, which has 130 people to manage $ 6 billion, while the Vision Fund has 100 people to manage a fund that’s more than 15 times larger.

It’s safe to say folks there are working long nights and could use the hand.

SoftBank or its Vision Fund is as of now hiring for at least 14 different positions at its headquarteres in San Carlos, according to posted job listings, ranging from its two-year investment associate program to several open vice president positions.

The Fund is looking now for people with some operational experience, according to a source familiar with its thinking, hopefully landing people with both some investment experience and some technical background in a particular field.

Plus, the Vision Fund’s leadership up till now has been primarily led by former bankers, who are a natural fit at executing later-stage deals but do not have as much experience serving on boards of startups, for instance. They do, though, have more background in negotiating.

While the firm does have some veteran operators as managing directors — like former LinkedIn exec Deep Nishar — its leadership hasn’t come from blue-chip venture capital firms.

Early last year, the Vision Fund raided the technology banking sector’s top talent, landing bigwigs like Michael Ronen of Goldman Sachs and Colin Fan from Deutsche Bank — presumably for a lot of cash.

This year, it appears the technology fund is preparing to nab talent from the traditional venture community as well.


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3 simple rules venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki gave me for running a startup


I was fortunate enough to personally meet Guy Kawasaki, best-selling author, empowering speaker, and all-around entrepreneurship evangelist, at SXSW 2017. If anybody has the inside scoop on how to get a startup off the ground, it’s him. Here are three important things I learned from speaking with Guy, which I bet can help you on your startup journey: #1  Focus on your prototype, not your pitch You’ve met them at startup cons and bootcamps. Maybe you are one yourself. You know who I’m talking about — those guys who obsess over their pitch, who are so concerned with getting it…

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The president of Walmart-owned Jet is becoming a venture capitalist with an early investor in Jet

Liza Landsman will join the venture firm NEA in New York City.

Last month, Recode reported that Liza Landsman was departing her role as president of Walmart-owned Jet.com less than 18 months after the $ 3 billion acquisition.

We now know where she’s landed. Landsman is becoming an investor at New Enterprise Associates, better known as NEA, the well-respected venture capital firm that backed Jet.com as well as founder Marc Lore’s previous company, Quidsi.

Landsman’s focus will be on “consumer technology and commerce,” the firm said in a press release. She was first hired at Jet nearly three years ago as chief customer officer, and previously was the chief marketing officer at E-trade.

“Liza brings deep experience in retail technology and a phenomenal track record of driving innovation and delivering impactful results for companies, from early-stage startups to industry giants,” said Tony Florence, the head of NEA’s technology investing practice, and a former Jet.com and Quidsi board member.

Landsman’s departure from Jet.com was a bit of a surprise, since she was just elevated to the top role of president in January of 2017. The connection between NEA and Jet now raises the question of whether this was an organized move on all sides. And, if so, why?

I’ve reached out to Landsman and will update this if I get some more clarity. Jet.com has yet to announce how it will fill Landsman’s position.


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The venture capital firm Lightspeed is trying to hold its portfolio companies accountable by asking them to sign a new diversity letter

The firm behind companies like HQ Trivia doesn’t have a perfect record on diversity issues. Does their new policy have enough teeth?

There have been internal investigations, Medium mea culpas and Decency Pledges — all part of how Silicon Valley venture capital firms have reckoned with a year of invigorated conversation about sexual harassment and diversity.

Now, here’s a new attempt to fix the problem: The side letter.

Lightspeed Venture Partners is asking its portfolio company CEOs to sign a letter affirming their commitment to consider women and other underrepresented groups for senior jobs and new spots on their board of directors.

The venture firm behind hits like Snap is requesting that its companies voluntarily sign the document at around the same time that Lightspeed wires money to their bank account, part of an attempt by Lightspeed to hold their own CEOs accountable.

It is a tactic that brings to mind the famous “Rooney Rule” that started in the NFL but has since spread to other industries, which required that teams interview at least one person of color for head coaching and other senior jobs. The thinking here is that merely interviewing a female candidate makes companies more likely to hire them — though this particular policy does indeed lack some of the teeth that is seen in the NFL, which has fined teams that disobey it.

“The question we’ve asked ourselves is how can we do something more than write blog posts about it and wring our hands,” Jeremy Liew, a managing partner at Lightspeed, said in an interview.

The one-page letter on Lightspeed letterhead asks its company CEOs to sign their name, acknowledging and affirming that the firm expects that “at least one candidate from an underrepresented background be considered for every open leadership and independent Board member position in the company,” according to the letter shared with Recode. Lightspeed is also asking that the company set goals and hire more women and other underrepresented employees than the industry average.

Lightspeed says 17 of its existing company CEOs have already signed the side letter — including CEOs from well-known companies like The Honest Company, Affirm and HQ Trivia, the white-hot quiz show app that had some difficulty raising money after investors unearthed questionable behavior toward women by one of its co-founders, Colin Kroll. Lightspeed is the main financial backer of HQ, and it is notable that Kroll, also the co-founder of Vine, is in the first batch of signatories of the letter.

Lightspeed is asking each of its new portfolio companies to sign the side letter — but it is not mandatory. Some portfolio companies also said weeks elapsed in between signing the term sheet and the actual letter. There are still more than 300 portfolio companies that not have yet signed it, though Lightspeed is approaching each CEO and asking them to do so.

Nothing about the letter is binding or punative. Lightspeed acknowledges that the document has no enforcement mechanism and effectively relies on company CEOs to honor their commitment. Furthermore, Liew said he and his partners have not yet decided whether a CEO’s reluctance to sign the side letter would mean that they would back away from a new deal entirely.

“Most entrepreneurs think of themselves as men and women of their word,” said Liew, who said that Lightspeed would be willing to have “reminder conversations” with CEOs who seem to be wavering on the understandings that they affirmed in the letter.

If the firm instituted something stricter — requiring the selection of women for certain roles, for instance, or vowing that CEOs would see personal consequences if they reneged on the agreement — Liew said they would be letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

“If we did that with a prospective entrepreneur, it wouldn’t get signed at all,” he said. “We’re thought partners. We’re not their mom or dad. We’re not the police.”

Lightspeed’s own record on these issues is not perfect. The firm said last year that it “should have done more” after reports emerged that Justin Caldbeck, a former venture capitalist at Lightspeed, was accused of making unwanted advances toward women both when he worked at the firm and after his departure.

This side letter does not directly deal with harassment.

Some Lightspeed-backed CEOs who signed the document told Recode that they saw the document as a minor ask, and not one that required much deliberation. That raises the possibility that the letter could merely formalize what founders already intend to do, and not change behavior.

Max Levchin, the founder of the highly valued Affirm, which has been in Lightspeed’s portfolio for four years, said in an interview that it was a “no-brainer” to sign the sheet. Levchin said his company already had internal guidelines that asked for women and other underrepresented people to be considered for senior-level positions, so the Lightspeed instructions wouldn’t materially change how the company operates. He does like that leaders are being asked to commit, though.

Affirm is also planning to add up to four independent directors to its board later this year, Levchin said, and the recruiting firm that Affirm has hired to find candidates, Russell Reynolds, already had presented him with a majority-female list of candidates for him to choose from.

The guidelines on those interviewed for board positions only applies to independent directors — Lightspeed will not, for instance, be trying to influence who other venture firms name to their board seats.

Newer portfolio companies are being asked to sign the document as they prepare to accept funding (though, since it is not always being signed simultaneously with the term sheet, the funding is not contingent).

Sophia Amoruso, whose women-focused media company Girlboss announced it received $ 3.1 million in a seed round led by Lightspeed in December, said that the document “doesn’t impact my thinking” because she already planned to have a heavily female leadership team.

“It wasn’t a big conversation,” she said of Lightspeed’s ask, a couple of months after signing the term sheet, to also sign the side letter. “The agreement is not something that’s going to govern how I behave. My ethics will govern how I behave.”

Here’s the full text of the letter — this one sent to Levchin, for instance:

Max,

We are delighted to partner with Affirm to build a world-class company.

As you know, numerous groups that would contribute significantly to the success of a business have historically been underrepresented in technology companies, including women, disabled individuals, military veterans, and individuals from a number of underrepresented ethnic groups, including those that identify as African-American, Hispanic or Native American.

Lightspeed believes that the most successful companies benefit from employees, executives and Board members with diverse backgrounds and experiences. This diversity brings with it a broader set of viewpoints and ideas and a more informed decision-making capability, leading in our experience to the creation of stronger businesses.

In furtherance of our partnership, Lightspeed welcomes your commitment to build teams at every level of your organization that reflect the full diversity of all of the stakeholders in your business. Lightspeed requests that at least one candidate from an underrepresented background be considered for every open leadership and independent Board member position in the company. Lightspeed encourages the company to set specific goals regarding overall hiring rates of women and other underrepresented groups that are published internally and to which the company holds itself accountable. These goals should exceed the relevant industry average in a meaningful way, and progress against these goals should be actively measured.

Lightspeed looks forward to working with you on a regular basis regarding the company’s efforts in achieving a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Sincerely,

By: _________________________________________________________________________________

Jeremy Liew

ACKNOWLEDGED AND AFFIRMED:

Affirm

By: _________________________________________________________________________________


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Uber’s latest venture is a bike-sharing service in San Francisco

Uber's piloting a new service in San Francisco alongside dockless bike-sharing startup Jump. Uber Bike will let users rent one of Jump's 250 bikes, charging $ 2 for the first 30 minutes and an additional per-minute fee thereafter. Jump was granted a p…
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IBM, Maersk Announce Global Blockchain Shipping Venture

IBM and A.P. Moeller-Maersk on Tuesday announced a joint venture to create a platform based on Hyperledger Fabric 1.0, with the goal of creating huge efficiencies in the global supply chain. IBM and Maersk have teamed up to provide a more efficient method of standardizing shipping logistics using blockchain technology. “Adoption of Hyperledger Fabric by Maersk and … IBM has the potential to remake the shipping sector landscape and its use of information technology,” said Brian Behlendorf, executive director of The Linux Foundation.
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Recode Daily: Top venture capitalist Fred Wilson predicts the year in tech

Plus: Hollywood women join forces against sexual harassment, the sprawling industry of Big Addiction, and we’ve seen this vision of the future before.

The sage venture capitalist Fred Wilson looks back at his predictions for 2017 — and what really happened — and ahead to what he foresees for 2018. Three macro themes dominated the past year in tech, he says: The breakout of crypto/blockchain, the beginning of the end of white male dominance and the backlash against tech. Wilson sketches the likely narrative of the next 30 years: “Human beings don’t want to be controlled by machines. And we are increasingly being controlled by machines.” Meanwhile, for 2018, Wilson predicts more tech IPOs, even as mega-funds like SoftBank make it easier for big tech companies to stay private by raising huge rounds. [Fred Wilson / A VC]

A network of 300 prominent Hollywood women launched Times Up, an ambitious initiative to fight systemic sexual harassment in Hollywood and media — and in blue-collar workplaces. Continuing the momentum of 2017’s cascading revelations of sexual harassment, the movement was announced in major U.S. newspapers, with an open letter signed by actresses America Ferrera, Eva Longoria and Reese Witherspoon, producer Shonda Rhimes and many other A-listers; the group already has a legal defense fund backed by $ 13 million in donations. [Cara Buckley / The New York Times]

Verizon approached Rupert Murdoch about buying much of 21st Century Fox this summer. Murdoch ended up selling to Disney instead, but the Verizon offer, reported in a long look at the Disney/Fox deal, is a reminder of the telco’s big media ambitions. [Brooks Barnes and Sydney Ember / The New York Times]

The New Yorkers China expert, Evan Osnos, observes China’s growing stature on the world stage — and how Beijing has learned to use U.S. President Trump to its advantage. While Trump dumps American commitments, President Xi Jinping is increasing China’s investments in the types of assets that established American authority in the previous century: Foreign aid and influence, overseas security and the most advanced new technologies, such as artificial intelligence. [Evan Osnos / The New Yorker]

Otto, the startup that wanted to sell a $ 700 smart lock, is shuttering before it ever shipped a product. In a Medium post, CEO Sam Jadallah tells his version of the story, which includes plans to sell his firm to a public company.

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The Chivas Venture will give away $1 million in equity-free funding at TNW Conference


At our Flagship Amsterdam event in May 2018, an expert jury selected by the Chivas Venture will divvy out $ 800,000 to social startups, with another $ 200,000 being provided to runners-up before the event. Here’s the story of how –and why– this partnership came about, as well as the full benefits available if you run a social startup. Over the years I’ve come to accept more and more that really great business partnerships are as likely to be the outcome of serendipity, as they are to be a feat of careful engineering. People often think that serendipity means being in the…

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