Delivering value at the margin

Zero Equity Nurturing©

The foundation of MVP and Zero Equity Nurturing©[ZEN©] is built on five theses, first codified on a Wendy’s napkin in 1987 and subsequently stapled to the front door of Sequoia’s offices. Note that five is 90 fewer theses than Martin Luther needed to start the Reformation. Our reformation of private equity will take time, commitment and conviction, thought don’t confuse the latter with the unfortunate outcome for our former partner.  It is a different kind of conviction.


thesis one

No one knows your business better than you!

So don’t set up your business to answer to people whose business is the getting-into-your-business business.

We’ll never know many great startups withered whilst their Board stalled in next-round stare-down or squabbled over who got the turkey club for lunch.

That will never happen with Marginal Value Partners. “Silence is Golden” goes the proverb. And MVP is all gold. We speak only when the coffee cup is empty, figuratively and literally. Yet when we do enter the fray, our input is so pithy it is often described as “dense.”


thesis two

Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely; money is at the root of all power, so don’t take capital.

When you stick that A-round needle in your arm you are destined to end up as a sad little afterthought in some Silicon Valley blog. You know, the kind of story where the founder was heard pleading: “Oh please don’t take our desks and foosball table!”

Ms. entrepreneur, take a hard look at that money your angel or VC is offering in trade for your precious equity.  Does it look to be a different color?  Well, bucko, he thinks so.  It is not common money in his eyes, but preferred money; preferred to your breathing, if it comes to that.

Not with MVP. We won’t send the barristers to break your knees, because there is no money to collect.  Its so simple, yet so powerful.

thesis three

If venture investors really had relevant and valuable experience they wouldn’t force their portfolio companies to start at an early stage.

We at MVP do not impose our experience to slow you down. You can start anywhere you like.

(The next time some pretty boy VC tells he has been there or done that, give him a t-shirt, not a seat at your cap table.)

thesis four

No early stage investor should profit unless the entrepreneur profits!

Investors of merit should take no fees and require no liquidity preferences.  Our reward should be warrants.  But not the kind of warrants delivered by a sheriff at the behest of an ex or because of some misunderstanding with a drunk girl with a fake ID.  It’s the other kind of warrants we are talking about.

thesis five

There is something for nothing (whether or not the chicks are free.)

Ever notice there isn’t a “v” or “c” in “we?”  And that there is no “equality” in equity, unless you add a couple of letters?

Well, there is an “us” in Marginal Value Partners. (Also “premenstrual,” “unpleasant,” “vulgar” and “lasagna,” but let’s not digress.)  MVP is a winning relationship for everyone.

ZEN acolytes get an answer to that always-unpleasant question at confabs and geek retreats: “So, who is backing you?” Gone is the elephant in the room, because there is a reply other than “Er…more beer anyone?” It is “Thanks for asking, you insensitive pissant.  We are backed by MVP.  Anyone want a Stoli?”

But wait, there is more for ZEN acolytes.   A really cool logo for your investor page and automatic membership in knocknock, MVP’s social network.  It is the kind of club you will want to join despite our willingness to have you.

What’s in it for MVP,” you ask?

Well, the young shouldn’t have a monopoly on dropping out of college and shivving their pals on the road to becoming post-economic.  We intend to learn from your mistakes. Swelling with bonhomie, we will applaud your struggle to rise from the ashes.  You go! And, laying all our cards on the table, this gig looks good enough on paper to get our better halves on a couple of Boards and off our collective back.

And then there are the warrants.