MC Hammer is a great example of what I tell people all the time: “PROXIMITY. ” A lot of us are too far from people or environments that can accelerate our goals. “I don’t wanna move to SF,” but you’ll find more investors and engineers there. “I don’t want to attend dinner events about investing,” but that’s how people learn how to generate higher returns on their hard earned money. There are two sides to Proximity:
Side 1: I recently saw a pitch deck from a guy who is marketing a new fund to athletes exclusively because he has “been around them” and has pictures with them. Somehow he must be legit, right? That’s like saying the dude hanging by the court every day but never playing “must be good” just because he’s around.
Side 2: I noticed athletes and entertainers who spend time near Silicon Valley/VC firms and tech coaches become good investors due to proximity. They learn the rules to the game, realize it’s a closed ecosystem in control, and use their celebrity to partake. However, they have to be willing to take that step forward and ask to get involved. Most don’t because they think VC folks are too busy. If you are an investor, you should be trying your best to invest with investors who are winning. Just like you should be trying to find the best player on the court to play with, and not just the guy who hangs at the court.
Hammer is a great example of #2. He has been in proximity for over two decades, got in the game, and has now invested in or advised dozens of companies. He helped Pandora founder Tim Westergren prepare for meetings with music executives when the service was still called Savage Beast. He gave marketing advice to Salesforce.com. He visited YouTube’s offices when it was still located above a pizzeria in San Mateo, Calif. In his words, “I’m interested in companies that can have a global impact on the enterprise in general; things that can make your connected life more interesting and easier.” He has a strategy, knows how to source and vet and is a part of the ecosystem.