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A Bad VCease Spreads February 14, 2006

Posted by Pontiff in assholics, assholism, Pontification, VC funding process.
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I’ve got some strong opinions about the venture capital funding process resulting from direct experience and observation of analogous processes. Its the VCease and while I may sound cynical its not a general criticism of VCs but more of an observation of the way humans organize and execute filtering systems. A filtering system in this example is intentionally designed and organized human based system that winnows out submitted or gathered material through a process of elimination.

Web based delivery makes the need for filtering systems ever more accute. Some lessons and good practices can be learned from prior experience with content related industries.

A few notable and often studied filtering systems would be feature film production, book publishing or record production (i.e.. the various steps involved in song publishing where  a  writer’s work is examined by executives who stand around taking turns urinating on it). We’ve all known people who’ve been either victims or victimizers in this process. Who hasn’t know an aspiring screenwriter / novelist / songwriter or worse actress / actor / model / singer and watched them go through the trials and tribulations of becoming a fill-in-the-blank? They go through identifiable phases that roughly correlate to the various stages of rejection, rejections, more rejection, acceptance, limited success , unlimited mediocrity, and finally creeping assholism. While assholism is a serious problem for these professionals as highlighted by the recent Tom Cruise debacle I’m going to focus only on the process and how the venture capitalist can learn from Mr. Cruise’s example.

I’ve worked in the publishing industry creating Movie Tie-in on the editorial staff of Simon and Schuster as well as the film business where I had several corporate level management jobs directly involved with the submission and rejection of scripts, ideas, projects, people, etc. Notably I worked for HBO in Special programming as an official defender against assaholics who have a tendency to lose their self control and storm the executive suites in search of reasonable explanations why their lives have been destroyed by someone who no doubt didn’t bother to read the script. I was there at the ready to assure them that someone had read the script. In fact I was that someone and could speak with a degree of authority and personal knowledge that their project had been given a thorough reading before I trashed it in the ‘coverage.’

My superiors had seen my raw but unpolished abilities at asshole wrangling while at Simon and Schuster. Possessing a southern accent was still (early 80s) considered charming and reeked of ingenous concern which would immediately give the delusional assholic pause and allow me to divert the conversation to possible ways the project could be improved or other outlets for their art. Often, although I was unaware at the time, my southern charm was not as effective at halting their rage but the belief that I was packing which was a common prejudice against anyone from the south.

Yet I had a secret that was exacerbated by the pressures and enviroment of the entertainment industry. I was young at the time and only a weekend asshole. It was not until years later that my disease progressed.The occasional weekday binging of assholianism inevitably ended in a raging two or three year bender. Blurred and indistinct memories of that time are bolstered by members of my ‘family’ or ‘support groups’ who “help” me to remember  as they tirelessly help all around them with laser like focus on past indiscretions even those that occurred up to 40 years in the past. I’m luckily this way.

Its the process of how these things are picked that we’re interested in now but a bit of background was necessary to establish my expert status and preslap any lurking untreated practicing asshole who wants to leave anonymous comments to the contrary. In fact working at Home Box Office was for armature assaholics (I’m a pro at everything I do) so after a 10 year stint as an entrepreneur and junior venture capitalist I return to entertainment to receive my doctorates in asshole studies at Sony Pictures during the 90s reign of Jon Peter’s and Peter Gubers. Here’s the book version and FYI I’m quoted no less than one time and possibly twice. Every word of it is true.

Continued in PART II – THE PROCESS

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