A Robot Wrote This Subject Line
Seed funding, AI authors, + What's Good Grab Bag
Hello from sunny Denver, Colorado where the cherry blossoms are blooming and it finally looks like spring. I woke up with a terrible cough today so I’m laying low and cleaning out my drafts, so this is a bit of a grab bag. I’m basically ignoring the stock market for now.
Seed Funding for Firstparty
In February and March I was fundraising for Firstparty with my cofounder Jonathan, and today we announced we’ve raised $5.7M in seed funding. It’s wild when I think it was 10 years ago I received my first seed check for Referly, which would later become Mattermark. Doing this at 37 and not CEO this time is different than 27 and first-time CEO, but I’d be lying if I said I know what to feel about all that elapsed time. I still feel like I’m just getting started.
One of the interesting aspects of being a serial founder is that you see multiple options for how to play the game that just weren’t on the radar the first time around. This time around, raising money for Firstparty has been a LOT easier. Mostly, I attribute it to working with the same folks I’ve worked with in the past. I have known 95% of the folks on our cap table for more than a decade, which gives me incredible peace of mind.
In a decade-plus long business relationship you can’t help but get closer, and it changes how you communicate. Our investors have seen me at my highest and lowest moments. They’ve been there to bridge my businesses with money or bridge my spirit with moments of genuine encouragement and connection.
I’ll admit something here that I don’t think I’ve ever said publicly: after Mattermark I thought I would never be a founder again. The ending hurt so much. I felt I had let so many people down, let myself down, and wasted so much time with nothing to show for it at the end. It took some time and some healing for me to really start to pull the lessons from that experience. It took some more time for me to fall back in love with startups (thank you to team Meltano, Sid, and Gitlab).
The Robots Do Content Marketing
What really blew me away was how helpful Jasper.ai was for writing the announcement blog post, and if you haven’t tried it yet I highly recommend it. Here’s an example… (I gave it the sentence above and the bold text below):
It is a great tool to help you structure your content and make sure that it flows better. For those who got excited about GPT-3 but weren't sure how to use it, this is an elegant use case that shows how a text generator can aid in your daily life.
I found that using Jasper.ai helped me structure my announcement blog post and eliminate any awkward word choices or sentences. Content marketing has been my bread-and-butter for a long time now, and I find that tools like this can really help with breaking through writer's block to come up with new ideas or ways to phrase things.
If you're not familiar with GPT-3, it's a machine learning platform that allows developers to train and deploy AI models. It's been used for a variety of tasks, such as generating realistic 3D images or creating chatbots. The potential applications for GPT-3 are vast, and I'm excited to see how Jasper.ai will help people with their content marketing efforts. For now, I'll continue to use it for my own blog posts and see how it can help me come up with new ideas and better ways to phrase things. Thanks, Jasper.ai!
Bites & Bytes
I’m up to 21 “Super Followers” on Twitter, where I’ve been tweeting little daily thoughts on investing and more regular updates on my portfolio as I work to re-deploy the cash I took out of the market at the start of the year.
I cooked a truly “max eff” (to steal the term my friend Michelle Tandler loves to use, abbreviation for “maximum efficiency”) sheet pan meal from Goop: Miso Salmon with Asparagus and Bok Choy. As far as celebrity cookbooks go, Paltrow’s are some of the best simple and healthy meals I’ve found thanks to the recommendation from my sister Meg.
I’ve been taking a different approach to email, only processing it Tuesday through Thursday and WOW if you went off of my newsletters you’d think the world was ending. Frankly, its a good argument for unsubscribing to a lot of this stuff because 1) it’s all repeating the same info 2) there is little to no actionable insight.
I do not care if Elon owns Twitter, and I think taking is private is a great idea. The stock price is stagnant and frankly so is the product. Maybe you have to have grown up a Seattle Mariners fan to think this way? Anyway, Godspeed Elon.
My neighborhood gourmet burger is up to $19
Anyone else getting flight cancelations for planned-ahead trips? Seems like the airlines are cutting back a lot of the direct routes to smaller airports (e.g. there’s no longer a direct from Denver, CO to Santa Rosa, CA)
Several SaaS companies offering “discounts” looks a lot like putting a customer-friendly spin on reducing prices
My learning portfolio is -10.2% post reset to cash, and -4.3% overall for 2022. I’m still only 27% invested, and starting to see some really attractive entry points that are making me want to back up the truck.
LOL! Now if only this was the return for my overall net worth. I have a lot of conviction for $TWLO and $GTLB, which means I expect I’ll need to be patient for awhile now. I’ve been holding $TWLO since 2009, what’s another 5-10 years?
It’s a great time to hunker down and build my startup, remodel my house, make some babies, and eat fresh healthy produce from my garden.
Thanks for reading!
“We never had to take any of it seriously, did we?” Dagny whispers, in a moment of personal achievement and exaltation after a long period of struggle.
Ayn Rand wrote an explanation of this quote in her response to a fan letter:
Let me begin by saying that this is perhaps the most important point in the whole book, because it is the condensed emotional summation, the keynote or leitmotif, of the view of life presented in Atlas Shrugged.
What Dagny expresses here is the conviction that joy, exaltation, beauty, greatness, heroism, all the supreme, uplifting values of man's existence on earth, are the meaning of life—not the pain or ugliness he may encounter—that one must live for the sake of such exalted moments as one may be able to achieve or experience, not for the sake of suffering—that happiness matters, but suffering does not—that no matter how much pain one may have to endure, it is never to be taken seriously, that is: never to be taken as the essence and meaning of life—that the essence of life is the achievement of joy, not the escape from pain.