Interview with Brad Feld, Co-founder of Foundry Group and Entrepreneur

Motley Fool Ventures team | October 25, 2018

Brad Feld, a veteran early-stage investor and co-founder of Foundry Group, joined The Motley Fool’s Founder Summit in Denver. Brad spoke with Ollen Douglass, managing director of Motley Fool Ventures, about Foundry Group’s investing philosophy, the characteristics of great entrepreneurs, and his flair for unmistakable shirts.

We invite you to watch the video or read the lightly edited transcript below.

Ollen Douglass:  It’s a pleasure to be up here with Brad. Nice to meet you, Brad. We talked a little bit on the phone, but welcome.

Brad Feld: Delighted to be here, and the answer is Serena.

Ollen Douglass: It is definitely Serena. Okay. So let’s kind of get started. We’ll jump into the questions. At some point, we’ll open it up for the audience, but, first question starting off, can you just give me in basic terms what a VC does and then in more colorful terms (maybe not more colorful language), can you explain what the life of a VC is like?

Brad Feld: Sure. So, venture capital, which I think now, like many things, is expanding to cover lots of different categories of behavior, classically is investing very early in private companies, early stage venture capitalists will typically invest in a company that has a couple of people and an idea. There’s a range of venture capital activity that goes from early to late stage.

Today you’re hearing about these three or four or 500 million dollar financings into companies of multibillion dollar evaluations, but still private companies. Classically venture capitalists are very involved in the companies that they invest in, but they don’t control them.

So venture capital is distinct from private equity in that regard where you also hear sort of private equity and venture capital are cousins, but private equity or situations where the private equity firms own and control the companies, even if they’re private. Whereas VCs tend to be minority investors but often have a lot of influence.

Functionally what I do is I spend my entire day doing email and phone calls. The more serious answer is, most venture capitalists end up having lots of domain expertise in certain areas. And that’s where they tend to invest. They might have a geographic focus in terms of their investments. They might have a stage focus and you really have a spectrum of VCs from firms that are very small number of people, like ours.

We have Foundry, we have six partners. We’re all based here in Boulder. We invest all around the US, but even with a small firm where literally there’s six partners and no other people in the firm, other than we each have an assistant, CFO, and a general council. As a firm, we have about two and a half billion dollars under management, so a small number of people could … that could be a venture firm, and at the other end of the spectrum you have venture firms that have 50 to 100 people.

Lots of people in addition to the investing partners, operating partners, recruiting partners, sort of building what’s now called a full-stack venture fund. Across all of it, the goal of a venture fund is super simple. We have investors who give us money, our limited partners. We put our money into the funds, and our goal is to over time, give our investors back a bigger box of money than they gave us.

Keep up with Brad Feld

Contact Us

Ollen Douglass:  It’s a pleasure to be up here with Brad. Nice to meet you, Brad. We talked a little bit on the phone, but welcome.

Brad Feld: Delighted to be here, and the answer is Serena.

Ollen Douglass: It is definitely Serena. Okay. So let’s kind of get started. We’ll jump into the questions. At some point, we’ll open it up for the audience, but, first question starting off, can you just give me in basic terms what a VC does and then in more colorful terms (maybe not more colorful language), can you explain what the life of a VC is like?

Brad Feld: Sure. So, venture capital, which I think now, like many things, is expanding to cover lots of different categories of behavior, classically is investing very early in private companies, early stage venture capitalists will typically invest in a company that has a couple of people and an idea. There’s a range of venture capital activity that goes from early to late stage.

Today you’re hearing about these three or four or 500 million dollar financings into companies of multibillion dollar evaluations, but still private companies. Classically venture capitalists are very involved in the companies that they invest in, but they don’t control them.

So venture capital is distinct from private equity in that regard where you also hear sort of private equity and venture capital are cousins, but private equity or situations where the private equity firms own and control the companies, even if they’re private. Whereas VCs tend to be minority investors but often have a lot of influence.

Functionally what I do is I spend my entire day doing email and phone calls. The more serious answer is, most venture capitalists end up having lots of domain expertise in certain areas. And that’s where they tend to invest. They might have a geographic focus in terms of their investments. They might have a stage focus and you really have a spectrum of VCs from firms that are very small number of people, like ours.

We have Foundry, we have six partners. We’re all based here in Boulder. We invest all around the US, but even with a small firm where literally there’s six partners and no other people in the firm, other than we each have an assistant, CFO, and a general council. As a firm, we have about two and a half billion dollars under management, so a small number of people could … that could be a venture firm, and at the other end of the spectrum you have venture firms that have 50 to 100 people.

Lots of people in addition to the investing partners, operating partners, recruiting partners, sort of building what’s now called a full-stack venture fund. Across all of it, the goal of a venture fund is super simple. We have investors who give us money, our limited partners. We put our money into the funds, and our goal is to over time, give our investors back a bigger box of money than they gave us.

Ollen Douglass: Very good. Thanks, Brad. So, continuing with that theme of their process and the companies that you’re investing in. When you look at companies to invest in, if we would’ve put the categories of people, business model, and market opportunity, how would you rank those in order of importance and why?

Brad Feld: I think this varies a lot by VC, and by the strategy of the venture firms. I’ll speak to our strategy, and I think it’s important not to think of venture capital, and venture capitalists as a singular archetype. There’s lots of old people in this audience like me. So you remember Dungeons & Dragons, right? How many of you played Dungeons & Dragons? Yeah, a whole bunch. Good.

So VCs are lots of different archetypes. You’ve got some wizards and you’ve got some elves, and you’ve got some dwarves, and you’ve got lots of trolls, and they have all different skill levels and experience points and things like that, and different tools. VC firms are typically a collection of a couple of archetypes. And so the strategies and approach of VC firms tend to be different.

At Foundry Group, we have a simple goal and our goal is to say no to everything that we encounter within 60 seconds. And so we created a set of filters to basically say no to almost everything. And those filters are geographic filter (we only invest in the US and Canada) and a thematic filter (we have a set of themes that are pretty abstract, and many companies don’t fit within these themes). And these are areas that we have deep, deep expertise.

So if a company doesn’t fit within a theme, we say no immediately, even if it’s an amazing entrepreneur. And then at the early stages, if a company’s raised more than $5 million, it’s not a target for us. We do do some late stage investing as well, but primarily in our existing portfolio. So that’s the first filter. And if a company doesn’t get through that filter, we just pass. We don’t spend any time.

We don’t want to waste the founders’ time, the entrepreneurs time on something that has a low likelihood of outcome. And we don’t want to spend our time exploring an investment that way. Because we have deep domain knowledge, we then shift very quickly to looking at three things once we engage with a company.

The first is whether or not we have affinity for their product, we don’t have to be daily users of the product, but we’ve invested in so many things that we don’t give a sh*t about over the years, that it’s just not worth it. Like if you … know when everything’s going good, it’s fine, but when you have real challenges, and almost every private company, that I’ve ever been involved in investing in has made your challenges.

All of them have at least one near-death experience along the way to either success or ultimate failure. Lots of them fail, if you don’t care about the product. What’s the point? So affinity is a key part. The second, is we’re looking for founders who are obsessed about what they were doing. They were put on planet earth to do this business. And obsession is very different than passion. You hear the word passion a lot with entrepreneurship.

Passion is incredibly easy to fake. The dynamics around it is that if you’re an extrovert, you can be passionate about pretty much anything. And if you’re an introvert, it’s incredibly difficult to be passionate about anything. And so both introverts and extroverts can be extraordinary entrepreneurs, and so we use this notion of obsession, and this idea that this is the thing that these founders were put here on earth to do, as that second filter.

And then the third is really important is do they want to be partners with us as much as we want to be partners with them. Has to be bidirectional, and it has to be bidirectional because as an early stage investor in private companies, you’re going to be an investor in that company for a long time, and you really want to be wanted as an investor in that company.

And there’s lots of entrepreneurs who have different views of what they’re looking for in their investor, and we’re very open as a firm about what we invest in, and how we think about the world. And as long as I’m the entrepreneurs that we want to invest in, have that same feeling towards us, that becomes something that we go after.

Ollen Douglass: Very cool. And we have a similar view, particularly in the last one when we think about companies for the venture firm, we ask ourselves kind of two questions. One is a goal that we want to be the first one that they call when something goes wrong, you know, regardless of where we are in a cap table.

But the other one is imagine that the phone rings, and because of caller ID you can see who’s on the other side. Are you happy to pick up the phone or are you dreading picking up the phone? And if you’re dreading picking up the phone, let’s not invest right now. Let’s not even give them our number. Doesn’t cut it right there. So that’s great.

So you talked about the different types of VCs and took us through Dungeons & Dragons and Lord of the Rings for some of us, any troll stories you want to tell us?

Brad Feld: I mean, there’s endless ones. There’s a cliché that I … lots of clichés are stupid, but there are some that are really fun because they tend to be true. And the cliché that I like about investing as a VC and about creating companies is that when a company is successful, it’s the entrepreneurs … is the reason it’s successful. It’s their responsibility. They’re the ones that made it successful.

And when a company fails, it’s almost always the investors who caused it to be unsuccessful. And if you look over the history of investments, yeah, there’s plenty of companies that fail as private companies that are venture backed where lots of things happen, whether there was exoticness to the entrepreneurs, or whether it was a structural dynamics between the founders or their inability to scale the business.

But the dysfunction that gets created in companies when they’re struggling between the relationship between the investor, the VCs and the companies are legendary. And the worst version of this in my world is, the situation that we refer to as the playbook. There’s nothing wrong with having a playbook for how you’re going to invest and what you’re going to do as an investor.

But a lot of times what happens, especially when you start to get into more stressful things or things that are changing is that investors and human beings in general tend to fall back on their playbook, and some people actually say, “I’ve got a playbook.” What that means is, this worked for me over here, and therefore it’s going to work for me over there. So you need to do exactly what I did over there because that’s what worked for me.

And it turns out that there’s so much dynamism around companies, around the technology, which is the area we’re talking about in general, the evolution of these companies, and not just the evolution of these companies, but the evolution of the market dynamics. That if you try to execute everything the same way you did, this other thing that worked and you extrapolate from it. Number one, you’re probably extrapolating from a relatively small number of data points. That’s a bad strategy.

Second, you’re probably extrapolating against something that may or may not be the underlying driver of the thing that caused success. And so for investors who have gone very deep in certain industries, or certain market categories, lots of elements of that notion of a playbook are valuable, but even in those situations sort of being stuck in it, causes you to miss what’s going on.

I would say that’s where a lot of, it’s not trollish behavior, but a lot of the dysfunction in companies that are struggling comes from, because really what you want is you want your investors and the founders and the people running the company whether or not they’re the founders, not to lock arms and sing “Kumbaya” and say, “yeah, everything’s f*cked up, but we’re going to get through it.”

But instead sort of look critically at what’s going on, and work together in the context of what they understand and what they know. But without having to be rigid about what the going forward is.

Ollen Douglass: Got it. Interesting. This was good. I was thinking about the call we had beforehand and you said something when I called, it was so shocking that I couldn’t fully internalize it in a moment. So we can have it just kind of bring it back up now. You’re sitting in front of a room of some people who have had some really great experiences investing in public companies. I can’t even quote you. I was so taken aback by the statement.

But you said something along the lines of, you don’t invest in public companies and you had really no interest in that at all. That’s almost blasphemous. Can you explain yourself, young man?

Brad Feld: Now I understand why I was invited to them? By the way, as an early AOL user, I remember The Motley Fool from very, very early instantiations, and I didn’t care about it then either.

Ollen Douglass: All right, thanks very much, Brad.

Brad Feld: Now I think it’s remarkable to look at the journey that The Motley Fool, and the community has made. I’m giving a talk later today about the power of a construct that we … I’m a co-founder of an organization called Techstars and our mantra is “Give first,” and the notion is give before you get, so put energy into a system without expecting to get something back.

It’s not altruism. You do expect to get something back, but you don’t know when, from whom, over what time frame, what conservation, or what magnitude. I read a book a number of years about startup communities. The phrase startup communities wasn’t used before that people talked about entrepreneurial ecosystems or research clusters.

And my premise is you could build entrepreneurial or startup communities anywhere in the world as long as you have enough critical mass about 100,000 people in the city. And I’m talking later about the notion of communities, and when … this talking to him later today, and when you think about it in the context of that and give first, you have a lot of dynamics over 20, how many years?

Twenty-five years, 26 years? Twenty-five year period from the inception of an idea to a very, very broad community that has shared affinity, but that’s very reflective on itself. So it’s very powerful. I learned a long time ago, I’ve been an early stage investor since 1994. So I started my first company in 1987. It was self-funded.

I sold it to a public company in 1993. I’ve always had some public company stocks, but the public company stocks I’ve had, have either been from companies that acquired a company that I was investor in, or a company that I was an investor in that went public, and along the way, maybe after the Internet bubble collapsed, where I had really joyful and exciting periods of time, I was co-chairman of a company that we started from scratch that went public in ‘99 that had a peak market cap around 3 billion dollars, went bankrupt in 2002.

You know, so sort of the incredible experience at all ends of the spectrum. What I realized as an early stage investor, and as a venture capitalist, the cognitive dissonance that I got from paying attention to the public markets was high, and the amount of energy that is required to actually be a good investor in public markets is nontrivial. Especially against the backdrop of the world that I was playing in, which was a lot of early stage companies, many of which we hoped would be disruptive to large, in some cases, public companies.

There was too much intellectual dissonance around that, for me, and as a result it became very hard to pay attention to the public markets at the same time that I was doing what I was doing. And I think it’s an instructive lesson, not generally, but specifically, which is when you find an area of, whatever the community sort … or I should say, the broader landscape that you’re participating in, going really deep in that community, and building that network within that community that you have high affinity for, is very powerful.

I have lots of friends in the venture community that like to trade public stocks. I have lots of friends in the venture community that are enjoying, the 3% of interest that appears to be here, which is crypto. And I encourage them that they may as well trade currencies as well. And it’s so far from the day to day work that unless it’s a hobby that’s a really captivating hobby, it’s very hard to pay attention to.

And I made this decision, it’s probably 16 years ago that I was going to spend no time thinking about it. That doesn’t mean I don’t have money in public markets, but it’s very easy to mail it in. It’s very easy to send money to Vanguard and play very long term against the markets, you know, in a low fee compounding way, knowing that the risk return characteristics I have from investing at these incredibly low basis in private companies.

And you know, we have a company here in Colorado that we’re investors in that recently got bought by Twilio for $2 billion, a company called SendGrid. And I think our initial investment in SendGrid was five cents a share or something like that. So you know, spending time on that and having this sort of risk return characteristics on that is so much more powerful than the energy against public companies.

Ollen Douglass: Got it. Interesting. And I think within that open disdain for public market investing, there is a secret to success that I think we talk about a lot, which is finding great companies, buying and holding them for the long term.

Brad Feld: I want to calibrate one thing. It’s not open to staying. I have enormous respect actually for the public markets, and for public market investors. I just think y’all are way better at it than I am, and y’all are way better than I am because you’re actually spending time thinking about it, studying it, learning about it, engaging with other people who are paying attention to it. And I literally don’t have time to do that against the work that I’m doing.

I think the thing I heard at the opening was very consistent, right? The view of doing it for the long term, and playing a very long-term game, right? Don’t exit. That’s very much the mental model that we have when we’re investing in a company. I’m on the board of company that’s a sizeable private company, $100 million dollars in revenue profitable. I’ve been on the board of the company for 18 years.

Right? So the long journey of many of these companies and by the way, I invested in that company when it was a tiny little company. So those journeys are very long ones and whether it’s a single company, or it’s a market landscape, and an ability to think about the market context over time, I would underscore like disdain is the inverse of it. It’s huge respect for it and as a result of the huge respect for it, not feeling comfortable that I have the expertise to be good at it over that long period of time.

Ollen Douglass: Got it. Okay. Well, let’s bring us all back together. This is the Founder Summit in almost definitionally every early stage CEO is a founder, almost always, right? So you mentioned being obsessive. So it’s one of the traits you look for. What are the some of the other traits of success that you’ve seen in these founder-led companies that we can kind of think about and translate that into CEOs we’re looking at today.

Brad Feld: The obsession has to last a long period of time, but it does have to shift at some point from working in the company, to working on the company. It’s another cliché you hear a lot, but it’s a really powerful one. Early on, the founders of a company are doing everything, and as a company starts to grow, and they attract people to the company, they still are doing lots of things because … especially if the company is on a success curve.

You get to a certain level, and you have to start allocating more of your time to working on the company, instead of focusing on the product that you’re building. The product becomes the company. And in a lot of ways, founders who are obsessed about what they’re doing can make that shift, because they understand that the product is now the company, and the products that they started building are the instantiation of the company they’re creating.

The behavioral characteristics change, and one of the things that great founders do is something I like to call collecting people. They collect people across the whole dynamic. It’s not just getting customers right? You get mentors, people that are experienced that can help you. You proactively build a board of directors early that has outside people that can help extend your business, versus trying to control everything and be afraid of that.

You’re looking for people on your senior leadership team, when you’re a 50-person business that have experienced growth from a 25-person business to a 100-person business. And when you’re 250 people, they’ve experienced growth from 100-person business to a 500-person business. You’re continually upgrading your organization not in an endless restructuring way, that very large companies do, but in this notion of evolving your business in extending the footprint of what is going on with it.

The other thing that I think really great founders do is, they don’t fall for bright shiny object syndrome. And it’s a real problem, we see it a lot with companies sort of in the 20- to 100-persons zone. They’re having some success and the success is exciting, but then the founders get distracted, or the CEO gets distracted, and so instead of taking what you’ve got and building on it, you immediately start working on the next product, or you start focusing on something that you think is adjacent but is actually tangential.

And not falling prey to this is really important because it prevents you from then working on the business, right? Because you’re still like, “Oh, I’ve got to go create this next product over here.” There are some good examples of founding CEOs who hire a very strong number two, relatively early, and it allows them to have that range and so that’s a powerful move.

But again, if you go back to the thing I said earlier, that’s collecting people. Like recognizing, “I’m going to need somebody that’s going to run the business as we continue to scale it because that’s not where I want to spend my time.” And there’s this notion of visionary versus implementer, and if you look at the best companies as they scale, they have a tight pair of visionary implementers at the top of the business.

Ollen Douglass: Okay. Very good, very good. When you think about everything going on today, the world plus you’re an author, investor, a VC, what are you really fired up about right now? Like what gets you excited and energized? What can you not stop talking about?

Brad Feld: I enjoy living. I recognize that I’m going to die at some point, and I really enjoy being alive.

Ollen Douglass: Tell me more about that.

Brad Feld: Well, I also got very sick this summer for about 30 days. And that was another jolt to the system of just recognizing-

Ollen Douglass: Is that enjoyable also or?

Brad Feld: Pardon?

Ollen Douglass: That was enjoyable also or?

Brad Feld: No, that was not a joy. But I do … I say it with all seriousness, like I think that the finite experience that we have on this planet, is fascinating. And the ups and downs, both internally and externally are very complex. And they’re incredibly hard to control and manage. And so what I’ve tried to do and what gets me fired up is continue to be involved with and surrounded by, and impacted by lots of different ideas from lots of different people, in lots of different environments that allow me to grow and learn and stretch myself.

I’m very fortunate to live in Boulder, Colorado in 2018, and to have lots of resources, and to be in a healthy relationship with somebody that I’ve been married to for 27 years. Like I look at all the things that I’m very fortunate, around especially against the context of our world and the perspective of it is interesting.

I’m curious how many in the room have read the book “Sapiens?” Oh, a handful. So I encourage it. It’s a book that triggers a lot of things. And one of the things it triggers is this notion that, as a species, homo sapiens, there’s plenty of things that we think change, but fundamentally nothing much changes.

And the notion of what we think changes is an important part of this idea that we create that narrative in our minds around what’s going on and that’s one of the greatest strengths of human being. So it’s a very interesting thread. And when I say nothing much changes, that’s not to say that things don’t change. It’s to say that the actual perception of it as much more enhanced by the structures we create.

There’s another good book since this is the book club of Motley Fool. That’s also sort of on that vein. I’m curious if everybody’s read it? A book called “Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History?” Okay, there’s nobody here. This book is … it’s a total sleeper. It just came out. It’s fabulous.

It breaks up the history of America from the beginning into epochs, E-P-O-C-H-S. That range from months, in some cases to 50 years and others. And it marches through American history from the very beginning. And what you realize is that we have lived in this insanely crazy country from the beginning. And it’s part of the genius of America. This sort of fantasy narrative that we’re always creating at different points in time.

And a simple thing is we used to burn women for being witches. Like think about that for a second. How crazy is that, right? That was like a normal thing that happened in about a 12-month period, in our country. The reason I’m sort of ranting on this, on the answer to your question is, I think it’s just absolutely fabulously interesting to be alive right now, even with all the stresses and troubles and conflict that we have because we live in this world where there’s this continual stimuli that’s up to us to explore, and challenge and grow from.

And that’s what turns me on. From a business perspective, I get to do that in the context of technology, from what I would say philosophical perspective. I get to do that against the backdrop of business. You know, what I’ve done with startup communities, what I’ve done with Techstars, what I’m doing with this notion of give first, or all around that, right?

So it allows me to play in a domain that I feel really comfortable with, that I’m really interested in, that I have a lot of experience with. But at the same time sort of be continually stretched against this very broad backdrop that’s utterly fascinating if you can step back from the day to day craziness of it.

Ollen Douglass: Very good. Very good. But I’ll take a couple of questions. You guys saw me fumbling a little bit looking for my reading glasses. I know none of you guys have reading glasses, but I’m going to do it anyway.

Brad Feld: I said something that you were old earlier, I didn’t mean it, that you were old. I meant that you’re old enough to remember Dungeons & Dragons. I just want to clarify, in case anybody comes out of this feeling like I’m ageist, because I’m not, and I feel old now too. So old enough to remember Dungeons & Dragons.

Ollen Douglass: Great recovery Brad, great. Question number one. Where did you get that shirt?

Brad Feld: So, for many years, I wore T-shirts and most of the T-shirts I wore had words on them, because on a multiple time a week basis in the mail, T-shirts with words on them show up at my office, some from companies that were investors (and I’m an extra large, by the way). And some from random things and that is what I would wear.

And my wife Amy hated it. She hated when I wore T-shirts with words on them. So one day I came home and she said, “I bought you some new clothes.” And I said, “Oh, that’s nice.” And she said, “Well, why don’t you go in the closet and look,” and you know, we have a closet that probably won’t surprise you based on this story, it’s a very big closet, and of that very big closet, all but one of the closet things belongs to Amy and I have like the one spot.

So I go to my one spot and I open my one spot. It’s stacked with T-shirts with words on them and they’re all gone. Gone. I mean, like, I don’t know, 100 plus T-shirts gone, and I just sort of … And it was empty. I just sort of looked at her, I’m like, “Huh.” And I said, “What’d you do?” She said, “I gave you another closet.”

I’m like, “Oh cool. Which one?” “Well, it’s one I had to hang them up. So you get one of those, it has a hanging rod now.” And so I went to the hanging rod closet and there were maybe 10 or so shirts like this, it’s from a guy named Robert Graham who used to be a specialty clothing designer that then sold his company, and it’s been bought a couple of times. And now is part of a big clothing company and you could buy these shirts everywhere.

But she bought me 10 of these and they’re basically like pieces of art and she said, these are your new shirts. And I looked at them, I’m like, “Okay.” And so I started wearing them maybe about, I don’t know, seven, eight years ago. And about every couple of times a year, more than once a quarter, maybe every two months, sometimes every three months three, four or five new ones show up, because she goes online and buys some new ones and he has like different collections and she buys from the collection of his that are limited editions that are basically like art.

And so I have all of these crazy shirts, some of which I love. This one I love, and I feel safe in it. So I wear it a lot when I do public stuff. And we refer to them as armor. So deep down I’m an introvert. I’m very comfortable in environments like this, but it drains me of energy. And so my colorful shirts are my armor, and it’s a fun way to, be Robert Graham.

Ollen Douglass: Very cool, and speaking of that, and I’m going to double that in to another question, but, I understand you’re an art collector as well. Not only in your clothing, but in paintings I guess, with others. Do you have any investing tips or tips for someone who might want to start collecting art or investing in it?

Brad Feld: Oh, sure don’t. My Mom’s an artist, so I grew up with an artist, and Amy and I started buying art. Amy and I started buying art when we first started going out, 27 years ago or longer than that. And we buy art from contemporary living artists, and we try to find new artists that we like early in their careers. We buy a piece of art and then roughly every year or two we buy another piece of art from that artist.

So now we have 30, 40, 50 pieces of art from some artists, and it’s been fun to watch some of them become well known and develop. And many of others you’ve never heard of. And our strategy is literally buy art that we love, from people who we can develop a connection with, and I have no idea if the art has any long-term value.

So we don’t think about it as an investment. And I think art is an incredibly scary thing to be an investor in, because of the complete and total lack of liquidity, combined with the controlled liquidity dynamics of the high-end art market. And when I say “controlled,” controlled by dealers, and gallery owners and sort of the gatekeepers and those just feel like terrible investments to me.

Ollen Douglass: Okay, good. So we’ve been running out of time, we’ll do two quick questions for you. One was a question of would you invest, knowing what you know now, would you have invested in a young Elon Musk if he came to you?

Brad Feld: Knowing what I know now? Yeah, sh*t load of money.

Ollen Douglass: Fair enough. Fair enough. And then this other one is … well, it’s a question.

Brad Feld: Remember, I don’t play public market, so I don’t have to have an opinion about Tesla today.

Ollen Douglass: That’s right. So this is a two-part question. It’s just a question to end. If you could explain why this is not a weird question that would be very helpful as well. This comes from a friend of yours who told me to ask you, would you sponsor a bathroom at The Motley Fool?

Brad Feld: I would love to.

Ollen Douglass: Why?

Brad Feld: So Amy and I have a foundation, if anybody’s curious about, we do through a foundation, it’s called Anchor Point Foundation. We’ve been very active philanthropically since we first got together. Like Amy has a wonderful story of talking about how when she had no money, she gave $25 to Wellesley, and $25 to the Mass Age Aids project, and $25 to the Nature Conservancy.

And you know, today 30-plus years later, we’re still very actively involved with at least two of those three organizations, Wellesley and Nature Conservancy. And early on in our relationship we decided to, neither of us are religious. We decided to give away at least 10% of the amount of money that we made the prior year.

So sort of in the inverse approach to compounding wealth. We decided to take this approach of actively engaging philanthropically, while we were alive and while we were young, and we’ve done that now for a long time, and the amount that we give both as a percentage basis has increased and the magnitude has increased.

We don’t have children, and I don’t believe in the notion of legacy, so our goal is to engage and essentially live a great life, but give it all away while we’re alive so that we can enjoy the experience of that. There are a handful of things that I find particularly fun to support. Neither of us care about having our names on things.

And so endowing buildings and courtyards and stuff like that has never turned us on. But there’s a lot of organizations that do capital campaigns for buildings. And whenever you give a big enough gift to a building, there’s always this desire to, or by them, to get the recognition.

And so a number of years ago, probably over a decade ago, I decided to start sponsoring bathrooms or endowing bathroom, so to speak.

Ollen Douglass: Do you endow bathrooms every day?

Brad Feld: There are a number of bathrooms in the world, probably 25 at this point that are sponsored by or funded by either Brad Feld, Amy Batchelor or the Anchor Point Foundation. And I’ve done it commercially some with two number of the companies that we invest in. One of their bathrooms is called the Brad Feld bathroom, and I’m okay with that.

So if there’s a philanthropic opportunity with The Motley Fool, I’d be happy to do something that results in a Brad Feld bathroom at The Motley Fool. So you know where to find me.

Ollen Douglass: Thank you very much, Brad. This has been great. Appreciate it.

A private offering of interests in the Fund will only be made pursuant to a confidential memorandum or presentation, a Limited Partnership Agreement, and subscription documents related thereto, which will be furnished to qualified investors on a confidential basis and which would supersede any information on this site, including, without limitation, a full description of any proposed investment strategy, the full terms of any investment, and the applicable risk factors and conflicts of interest. The interests in the Fund have not been, nor will they be, registered under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, or qualified or registered under any applicable state, local, provincial, or other statutes rules or regulations, and no person or entity named herein is a registered investment adviser.