We’ve come to the end of 2014, another extraordinary year. The year brought us the Olympics, another World Cup, an election in India, a major Ebola crisis, war in the Ukraine and Gaza and a World Series win by the San Francisco Giants. On the tech side, we had exciting technology developments like the resurgence of Netflix and breakthrough companies like Stripe, as well as controversy around Uber, the Guardians of Peace Sony hack, the iCloud hack and the bending iPhone.
For me, I started the year out as a visiting professor at the University of Washington. I’ve always enjoyed mentoring entrepreneurs, but working with the clever and enthusiastic students at the University of Washington was one of the highlights of my year. My stint at the UW ended in June, but I continue working with students whenever I can. In November, a group of UW Foster School of Business students spent a couple of days in Silicon Valley, and I was happy to show them around and introduce them to some of Bay’s portfolio companies.
Their questions for me are common ones that I get from people in school and out – should I go with a big company, a start-up, or do my own thing? My answer is it doesn’t matter. Don’t be afraid to do anything that you think is best for you. No matter what, it will be ok. You’ll either learn some valuable lessons or you’ll end up doing what you love. Both are good outcomes. Let go of fear and just go do it!
And along those lines, I got to fulfill a long-time personal dream this year when I drove the Mille Miglia in Italy. Like any goal we set, reality is often more difficult than we envision. And that was the case with my race through Italy. The car we had spent months preparing for this race died on the first leg and we were almost done before we even got going. But we were lucky that another couple dropped out and gave us their car. Another good life lesson. All kinds of unanticipated things can go wrong. But good surprises can happen too. While the car issue was a real struggle, we were also pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome and cheers from the Italians who lined up to greet us throughout the small country towns, all the way to the finish line. Even with the unexpected twists, driving the Mille Miglia really was a dream come true.
The fall was unusually busy this year, but one highlight for me was the Web Summit event in Dublin. Dubbed the “Davos of technology,” this conference was truly spectacular. More than just a Web Summit, it was several summits in one, including the Music Summit, Sports Summit, Builders Summit and much more. The conference was action-packed with many good speakers. I think this format is the conference of the future, and I’m definitely going back next year.
As the year comes to an end, one of our early investments, Lending Club, had its IPO last week, which was the biggest US tech IPO of the year. Bay is a somewhat small investor, but we’re very proud of the successful IPO. We sold DropCam to Nest, which was another big win this year. Fortune wrote a fantastic article on Bay Partners earlier this year, and Bay’s 2006 vintage fund was named the #2 top performing fund of 2014 by Pitch Book. All in all, a fantastic year business wise.
Next year, I have some big surprises in store that I’m anxious to share with everyone. We’re going to kick off 2015 right with an exciting new project that I think you’ll love. Keep checking this blog, as you’ll see a fun new series happening in January.
Until then, I wish you all a happy holiday season and a fantastic new year! May 2015 be your shining year!