I started my venture capital career in the fall of 1999, which is a bit like starting your German military career in the fall of 1944, only the end of the fun came a lot more violently in March 2000 when the dotcom bubble burst. We raised $150 million for Global Internet Ventures in late 1999, so the end came very quickly. I vividly recall an event that made me realize just how screwed we were. It took place at a portfolio company we had invested in sometime early in 2000 that had its offices in Beijing. In fact, the company had just opened new office space with the money we invested in them. When I walked into the reception area of the office, there was a set of glass tubes built into the wall with colored bubbles moving up and down in the tubes. I realized that one of my first venture capital investments went to pay for an office bubble system. While still relatively new to the VC business, I inherently realized this was not a good use of capital.
It was through that lens that I read a recent article about the office space taken by Lyft, which is a competitor to Uber in the ride app business. Without a doubt, Lyft’s office space looked very hip. However, when companies are using investor money to purchase pink mustaches for the wall and hire fancy chefs to cook for the employees, the end is probably near. I don’t give out investment advice in this blog, but if you own stock in a company that’s spending heavily on pink mustaches, and they’re not in the pink mustache business, you might just want to sell.