VV Show #24 - Bo Peabody of Village Ventures
“Stock lockup” is a term remembered with horror by many entrepreneurs who weren’t allowed to sell their dot com shares before the bubble burst. Bo Peabody founded Tripod, which was sold to Lycos for $58 million in stock. The terms of the sale forced him to hold onto his stock for two years -- while its value happened to increase ten-fold. He also happened to sell his shares just two months before the bubble burst. This lesson in luck was not lost on Bo, who wrote a book titled Lucky or Smart? However, his luck didn’t come out of nowhere. In our interview, he describes the years he spent developing his business even before the Internet was commercially available. He’s now helping entrepreneurs build businesses in parts of the country where venture capitalists typically don’t tread through his venture firm named Village Ventures.
2:15 Starting Tripod during college
- “I spent plenty of time partying.”
- “You’re either born an entrepreneur or you’re not” as he says in his recent book Lucky or Smart? : Secrets to an Entrepreneurial Life
4:45 Starting a .com without a technical background
- “Business is fundamentally about getting other people to do what you want them to do.”
- “If you’re an entrepreneur you need to be a B student in a lot of things.”
- Team started with Ethan Zuckerman
6:25 Choosing a team
- “We actually, as a rule, didn’t hire computer science majors.”
8:45 Operating out of Williamstown, Mass.
11:30 Becoming a success
12:15 Where the homepage builder idea came from
13:30 Getting the word out
- “If there was one part of it that I regret, it was that both the press and me worked a little bit to make it [entrepreneurship] seem easier than it was.”
- “It was harder than how we promoted it.”
18:00 Life at Lycos
- Tripod was acquired by Lycos
19:30 When to sell the stock
- “When someone wants to put money into your company at a fair price you should take as much as you can get, because you never know when the market is going to turn.”
21:45 Next step
25:00 Starting businesses outside of major markets
- Best place to start a business: Boise, Idaho
28:30 Is venture capital still necessary to tech companies?
30:35 Google’s and Yahoo’s early aqusitions
32:00 Giving up equity
- “The right place to start is to look to give up 25% to 35%” in an A round.
34:20 Pitching to Village Ventures
- Make a business plan
- Excerpt an executive summary
- Try to get an introduction
37:15 Transitioning from entrepreneur to venture capitalist
- “The only time I miss [being an entrepreneur] is when I’m involved with a company where I look at the CEO and say ‘God, I know I could do a better job than him or her.'”
39:15 Luck in business
- “If you recognize luck then it humbles you a little bit.”
40:10 Entrepreneurial advice
- “Technology does more in 10 years and less in 2 years than we think it’s going to.”
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Thanks for the shout out and nice job bringing up questions about Joel and PG's ideas. Though Bo was dismissive of the competition for VC represented by early acquisition, I wonder if bootstrapping could prove to be a much bigger siphon of potential deals.
Posted by: Alex at January 18, 2006 5:01 PM
Great podcast! Alex, I commented on this very question (VC vs. bootstrap) over at my blog at www.billbither.com.
Posted by: Bill Bither at January 19, 2006 12:51 AM
A very insightful interview.
Posted by: Oscar at January 21, 2006 2:28 AM
Excellent interview Greg! I use your interviews as weekly curriculum for my team. Thanks for the amazing work you do!
Posted by: Dhrumil at January 30, 2006 12:06 AM
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Posted by: David Gigolashvili at March 7, 2006 3:59 PM
Great to hear what's happened to Bo Peabody over the years! I've been a fan for a long time!
Posted by: Patty Seybold at March 14, 2006 12:20 PM