JP: We’ve all said airily that recruitment is easier during a recession, because people are available; but it’s also difficult, because stock options aren’t very appealing when there are no IPOs. Leah, how did [CEO] Chris [Alden] attract you to Six Apart?
LC: You’re going to put me on the spot? Six Apart makes lots of money, providing services for media and professional, big bloggers. They are hoping to really turn over this year and become profitable. Can’t talk too much about it.
KS: Lucky for us, the iPhone has been really hot, and a lot of people are trying to get into the mobile-application space. We’ve been lucky enough to find talented people from some of the large firms.
DG: If you want to be an entrepreneur, the best thing to do is figure out, can you sell people on a dream and a passion? Because if you can, that’s probably one of the biggest qualifications. You’ve got to have other skills, but if you can’t do that, it’s tough to be an entrepreneur in a good or bad period.
JP: When you have too much money, you can fund every crazy idea. Can having too little money be a salutary discipline?
SJ: We were trying to find out what correlates with success or failure in a portfolio. The one correlation [with failure] that held through up and down was the size of the series A–the first round of funding. The bigger it was, the more likely the company was going to fail.
SL: I think the economy has done every entrepreneur a big favor, by making you focus, making you know what you want. The point is to go do something. It’s not the exit, it’s not the money–it’s to do the thing that’s there for you to do.
JP: Entrepreneurs: the disinterested artists of the business world! None of the entrepreneurs [here] took angel funding. Did any of you consider it?
KS: Angel funding is definitely something we are very interested in, especially in this market where we are able to take a smaller amount of angel funding, where the exit size might not be as large as it might have been five years ago. A lot of the professional angels do come with contacts, and open a lot of doors.
LC: The ones who have the big pocketbooks in good times tend to be keeping their money close now.
JP: If it’s true that recessions are often periods when great ideas are turned into lasting enterprises, what are those ideas?
SJ: I don’t think there’s one elephant in the room–there are a lot of mammals, and I’d bet on the whole field.
DG: We are marginally through the transition of the media business from the physical to the digital. Obviously, people see that the first thing to go away is the physical newspaper. … We are still very early on, and video is probably the biggest part of that.
LC: Omigosh. Phones: make them smaller, get there faster. Please hurry up. I want to watch videos on the phone. I want to check in with friends on my phone, I don’t want to own any other device. Just get there, please.