VCs and social media

I recently participated in a Thomson Reuters webinar entitled "Boosting Returns with Web 2.0 Technology". The seminar was targeted to VC and Private Equity professionals and focused on how investment firms can use social media in managing their investment business. 

I was reminded of the mew media technology bubble that I live in a few months ago when I spoke on a similar topic at the PEI Investor Relations and Communications Forum. When I asked the crowd of about 150 people how many were on Twitter and a single hand went up I realized that I had my work cut out for me (I might have guessed that that when I walked into the room and was the only person wearing jeans, but that’s another story)…

Because of my experience at the PEI forum (realizing that most VC/PE professionals are still just beginning to understand social media and how they might use it for promoting themselves or their firm) I focused my presentation for the Thomson Reuters webinar on the basics of social media (and reinforcing that there are a handful of firms – primarily early stage VC firms – that are active users of the technology). I highlighted how we’ve used social media at Foundry Group and specifically the benefits we’ve gotten out of being extremely public about our investment themes, our reasons for investing in specific companies, etc (see the slide that highlights the Lijit search tag cloud on our blog). The builds in the deck don’t come through SlideShare, so some of the slides are busier (or more confusing) than they were when built up correctly, but you’ll get the idea. One of my co-presenters, David Teten of Teten Advisors has a post up about the seminar as well (along with a link to his slides).

  • Mike F

    Hey Seth, what do you think about social networking media in general? It seems to me that they are all going to be one hit wonders when you think of platform. For example, MySpace was great, then FaceBook and now Twitter. They seem to only work when everyone uses the same platform, and when the masses switch, then the last one dies. Again, example, MySpace. It seems fickle. How do you choose a good platform with staying power?

    • sethlevine

      It’s certainly been interesting to watch. I think one of the key challenges is that the platforms are enablers but not necessarily able to fully reach their monetization potential on their own (for example, other companies are making far more money on Facebook than Facebook actually is…). I’m not sure what continues to drive the “next big thing” movement in social media. The notion that users get locked in because of the power of the network works to some extent (certainly in giving a first move in a specific genre of social media a distinct advantage) but just when you think something’s got staying power there’s  a new form factor that comes along (Friendster->myspace->facebook for example). Continues to be very interesting to watch.