20VC: How I Lost a $125M Deal with Yahoo by Being Too Honest, The M&A Meeting with Steve Jobs That Did Not Go Well and How U2's Bono Saved The Day For One Tech Startup with Ali Partovi, CEO @ Neo


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By The Twenty Minute VC and Harry Stebbings. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Ali Partovi is the CEO @ Neo, a mentorship community and communal VC fund that announced their new $150M fund last year on the back of early hits from Fund I including Vanta and Kalshi. As an angel, Ali has made personal investments in Dropbox, Uber, Airbnb, Facebook, Convoy and many more. Prior to investing, Ali founded 2 companies, the first; LinkExchange which he sold to Microsoft for $265M in 1998 and the second, iLike which was acquired by Microsoft in 2009.

In Today’s Episode with Ali Partovi You Will Learn:

1.) How Ali made his way into the world of startups with the founding of his first company? How Ali made his way into angel investing and then starting and raising Neo, as a fund?

2.) How To Kill a $125M By Being Too Honest:

  • How did Ali lose this $125M with Jerry Yang and Yahoo?
  • What led Ali to believe that Paul Graham was so special in 1995? What would Ali have done differently with the benefit of hindsight?
  • How does Ali feel about investment misses today? What are his biggest misses? How has it impacted his mindset and approach to investing?

3.) The Meeting with Steve Jobs Did Not Go Well:

  • Why did the meeting with Steve Jobs not go well?
  • What was wrong with the way Ali phrased his final statement? What did this teach Ali about how founders should communicate the difference between hype and reality?
  • What did this experience teach Ali about how founders should run both fundraising and M&A processes? How does Ali build trust with every touchpoint?

4.) U2, Airbnb and Google at Seed:

  • How did Bono come to save the day for Ali for his startup in 2009?
  • What did this teach Ali about how to frame risk and when to go all in vs hold back?
  • How did Ali miss investing in the seed for Airbnb? How did he make up for it with a later investment?
  • How did Ali come to miss investing in the Google seed round? Does FOMO haunt Ali today?

Item’s Mentioned In Today’s Episode with Ali Partovi

Ali’s Favourite Book: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

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