20VC Exclusive Sahil Bloom on Raising his Debut Venture Fund (SRB Ventures), Why Traditional Venture Firms Are Going to Lose and How Sahil Built a Twitter Audience to 500K+ in 18 Months

Summary Notes


In this episode of 20 VC, host Harry Stebbings interviews Sahil Bloom, a prolific Twitter thread creator and newly announced venture fund manager of SRB Ventures. Bloom, who previously managed over $3.5 billion at a large investment fund and served on four boards, has also made over 30 angel investments. The discussion explores Bloom's transition from traditional finance to venture capital, his approach to creating value through content, and the announcement of his $10 million debut fund. They delve into the evolving VC landscape, where Bloom argues that capital as a value proposition is dead, and the future lies in adding distinct value beyond funding. Additionally, Bloom shares personal insights on work ethic, life balance, and the traits he hopes to instill in his future child. The episode also features sponsor segments from Core Signal, Squarespace, and AngelList.

Summary Notes

Introduction to the Episode

  • Harry Stebings introduces the episode, expressing excitement about the focus on venture capital and media.
  • Sahil Bloom is introduced as a newly minted fund manager with highly influential Twitter threads.
  • Harry thanks individuals for their questions and suggestions for Sahil.

"Welcome back to 20 VC with me, Harry Stebings. And I'm so excited for the episode today. First, we have some breaking news in the episode, always exciting. And second, it's a show focused on the intersection of venture capital and media."

The quote sets the stage for the episode, highlighting the theme of venture capital intersecting with media and the anticipation of breaking news.

Sahil Bloom's Background

  • Sahil managed over $3.5 billion at a large investment fund for seven years.
  • He serves on four boards and is an active angel investor in over 30 companies.
  • Sahil's Twitter threads are highly regarded and popular.

"Before Twitter and before the last year, he spent the last seven years at a large investment fund, managing over three and a half billion dollars in capital."

This quote provides context on Sahil's professional background, emphasizing his experience in managing significant capital and his involvement in the investment world prior to his Twitter fame.

Episode Sponsors

  • Core Signal is introduced as a data vendor serving Silicon Valley VC firms, enhancing discovery and analysis.
  • Squarespace is highlighted for its mobile optimization, email campaigns, and SEO tools.
  • AngelList is mentioned as a partner for fund management and introduces a new product, AngelList Stack, for founders.

"Our first sponsor for this episode is Core Signal. Core Signal is a data vendor providing fresh, raw data collected from public web sources."

This quote introduces Core Signal as a key tool for venture capitalists, explaining its role and services.

Sahil Bloom's Journey to Twitter

  • Sahil started sharing content on Twitter in May 2020 with a few hundred followers.
  • His content creation was a result of having more time during the Covid pandemic.
  • Sahil transitioned from traditional finance to focusing on early-stage ventures, seeking to work on the future rather than the past.

"I didn't start sharing things on Twitter until May of 2020. I had like a few hundred followers at the time, and it was basically just Covid had happened."

The quote outlines the starting point of Sahil's Twitter journey and the circumstances that led to his active engagement on the platform.

Advice for Transitioning from Traditional Finance

  • Sahil advises following one's energy to find areas where they can be exceptional.
  • He emphasizes the importance of finding your "zone of genius" and pursuing what truly energizes you.
  • Sahil suggests using the opportunity, if available, to discover what you can excel in.

"My biggest advice that I give to young people is figure out what you have a chance to truly be exceptional at, because that is always going to be what you have the most energy around."

This quote provides advice for those in traditional finance roles who are considering a switch to more entrepreneurial endeavors, emphasizing the pursuit of one's strengths and passions.

Twitter Content Strategy and Audience Growth

  • Sahil believes in creating value for others as a way to receive value in return.
  • He focused on evergreen content that remains relevant over time.
  • Sahil mentions the importance of consistency and resilience in content creation.
  • Audience growth accelerates as you build a larger base, and Sahil experienced rapid growth after reaching certain milestones.

"The biggest rule and the golden rule I always had around this was that you need to create value for people and then you'll receive value in return."

This quote captures Sahil's core philosophy for content creation and audience engagement on Twitter, emphasizing the importance of providing value.

Announcement of Sahil's Venture Fund

  • Sahil announces his first venture fund, SRB Ventures, a $10 million fund.
  • The fund size was initially set to be smaller due to self-limiting beliefs but grew due to demand.
  • SRB Ventures will be stage agnostic, mainly focusing on pre-seed and seed stages, with flexibility to invest in later stages if opportunities arise.
  • Check sizes will range from $50k to $250k, with $50k being the minimum.

"I'll be announcing my first venture fund. It's called SRB Ventures. SRB are my initials. Sahil ready Bloom. $10 million debut fund, anchored by some amazing people, and with participation from a bunch of people that I really, really admire and have learned a lot from."

The quote announces the creation of Sahil's venture fund, highlighting its name, size, and the significance of the investors involved.

Benefits of Being Small in Venture Capital

  • Small check sizes can be advantageous in venture capital for gaining access to deals.
  • Demonstrating value to founders is crucial for justifying the dilution from investment.
  • A platform and ability to amplify a company's presence can be a significant value-add.

The benefit of being small, which you and I have also talked about, is that it's not hard to get into a deal with a small check. If you can show some amount of value, then the trade for the founder is for this tiny amount of dilution, is this person going to deliver that value for me?

This quote emphasizes the trade-off founders consider when accepting investment from smaller funds – the potential value add versus equity dilution.

Managing Founder Expectations with a Large Platform

  • Not all portfolio companies will heavily utilize the investor's promotional capabilities.
  • Strategic promotion at key moments, such as major announcements, is often sufficient.
  • High-impact content creation can provide substantial value to portfolio companies.

I think it tends to be 80 20 in terms of, very few of the companies will actually take you up on all of the different things you can do for them.

Sahil Bloom indicates that a minority of companies will leverage the full extent of an investor's promotional services, suggesting a manageable workload for the investor.

Disruption of Traditional Venture Capital Model

  • The venture capital landscape is polarizing into two distinct groups: large, established firms and smaller, value-driven investors.
  • Middle-tier venture capital firms may struggle to define their unique value proposition in a changing market.
  • Content creation and distribution are becoming critical differentiators for venture firms.

I think what you're seeing is a barbell that is formed or forming within the VC landscape.

Sahil Bloom describes the emerging VC landscape as a barbell, with large, well-known firms on one end and smaller, specialized investors on the other.

Venture Firms and the Power of Content

  • Building an audience of real potential customers can be more impactful than an audience of peers.
  • Venture firms are increasingly focusing on content creation, but not all will succeed in delivering value.
  • Firms like Andreessen Horowitz have set a high standard for venture capital content platforms.

My audience is a bunch of real people that are looking to learn, grow, explore things, etc.

Sahil Bloom highlights the importance of having an engaged, authentic audience that extends beyond the venture capital community.

The Future of Traditional Venture Firms

  • Traditional venture firms may see reduced power and influence, but are not necessarily dying.
  • New venture models may involve smaller equity takes and a focus on value-add beyond capital.
  • Collaboration between traditional VCs and new media-savvy investors could be the future.

I think my kind of phrasing would be that traditional venture isn't dying, but we're going to see a reduction in their power and influence.

Harry Stebings suggests that while traditional venture firms will remain, their dominance will be challenged by new players who bring additional resources to the table.

Sahil Bloom's Personal Strategy and Vision

  • Sahil Bloom intends to remain a small-scale investor, focusing on delivering exceptional returns and investing in world-changing companies.
  • He is motivated by a strong work ethic and a desire to prove himself continually.
  • Bloom's approach is influenced by his personal background and the work ethic instilled by his parents.

I'm going to stay small and I'm going to continue to write small checks.

Sahil Bloom confirms his commitment to maintaining a smaller scale in his investment strategy, emphasizing his focus on value over volume.

Personal Drive and Work Ethic

  • Sahil Bloom's work ethic is driven by a combination of personal history, self-motivation, and a desire to overcome insecurities.
  • He relates his relentless approach to his experiences in sports and academic pursuits.
  • Bloom's internal drive is a major factor in his approach to venture investing and content creation.

My biggest insecurity is that I don't know what the fuck I'm doing. Excuse my language.

This candid admission by Sahil Bloom reveals the insecurities that fuel his strong work ethic and drive to succeed.

Emotional Highs and Lows of Founding a Media Business

  • Founders of media businesses, like venture capitalists with large platforms, experience significant emotional fluctuations.
  • The transition between emotional highs and lows can occur rapidly, often within the same day.

The highs for me are very high. The lows are very low. And I think the thing that people forget is the speed between moving from one to the other is very fast.

Harry Stebings reflects on the emotional rollercoaster associated with running a media-focused venture, a sentiment echoed by Sahil Bloom.

Even Keel Philosophy in Life and Work

  • Sahil Bloom attributes his even-keel demeanor to his experiences playing baseball.
  • He emphasizes the importance of not getting too emotionally high or low to maintain performance.
  • The metaphor of being "one pitch away" from success or failure is used to illustrate the need for balance.
  • This philosophy is applied broadly to life, not just sports.

"And the reason I'm even keel is from lessons learned on the baseball field. Because what I learned playing baseball was every time I got high, I'd get punched in the mouth, and every time I'd get too low, I would hold myself back from performing."

This quote explains the origin of Sahil's even-keel approach, highlighting the practical lessons from sports that can be applied to life and work.

The Concept of Engineered Luck

  • Sahil Bloom believes that luck can be engineered through consistent actions.
  • He cites the idea of "engineered serendipity" from Tim Brown, former CEO of IDEO.
  • Sahil plans to write about creating one's own luck, emphasizing that perceived luck is often the result of many small, consistent actions.
  • He provides a personal anecdote about meeting Tim Cook at the gym, which led to a significant mentorship due to his routine of hard work.

"And what I mean by that is you're doing something consistently that led to you getting lucky. And then you say, oh, I got lucky. This thing happened, this break went my way, but really it was that you were doing something that led to that situation."

This quote explains Sahil's view on luck, suggesting that what is often considered luck is actually the cumulative effect of consistent effort over time.

Lessons from Mentorship with Tim Cook

  • Sahil Bloom has learned the importance of being principled and value-driven from Tim Cook.
  • He admires Tim Cook's ability to let principles and values guide decisions, both publicly and privately.
  • Sahil observes that Tim Cook's actions, friendships, and loyalty reflect his deep connection to his values.

"I think he is one of the most principled and value driven people I've ever met, and I admire that deeply because I think there are very few people in the world that are that way who are so deeply connected with what their principles and values are that they're able to let them guide every decision."

This quote highlights the key takeaway from Sahil's relationship with Tim Cook, emphasizing the importance of adhering to one's values and principles in all aspects of life.

Sahil Bloom's Morning Routine and Lifestyle

  • Sahil is a morning person, often getting up at 03:45 a.m. to start his day.
  • He values going to bed early, around 09:00 p.m., to maintain his routine.
  • Sahil jokes about his lifestyle being similar to that of a much older person, enjoying tea and reading before bed.

"I'm probably in bed by like, nine most nights. Not when I go out with shaheads and get drunk like last night in New York, but normal night, 09:00 p.m."

This quote provides insight into Sahil's daily routine and his commitment to maintaining a schedule that supports his productivity and well-being.

Sahil Bloom's Content Creation Process

  • Sahil describes his "content engine" as the core of his creative process.
  • He gathers ideas from various sources like newsletters, podcasts, and other media.
  • Sahil logs ideas and insights into a board on Notion, which he later uses for writing inspiration.
  • He writes in an unstructured form before distilling his thoughts into concise, punchy content for Twitter.

"I have what I call a content engine. That's what I think is at the heart of a creator's process, has to be a content engine, which is what allows you to produce high quality content consistently."

This quote explains the systematic approach Sahil takes to generate and organize content ideas, which is central to his work as a creator.

The Impact of Social Media Responses

  • Sahil acknowledges the negativity bias where negative comments can overshadow numerous positive ones.
  • He shares a personal experience of feeling down due to negative responses to a thoughtful thread about fatherhood principles.
  • Sahil never deletes threads unless he feels something wasn't well thought out, but he may delete individual tweets.

"Negativity bias is a real thing. I don't know if that's the right term for it. It's what I call it, which is I can post a thread and I'll be looking through the responses, and there'll be 100 positive responses. And then one guy says something negative, some anonymous account says something really mean or negative, and that's the only thing you can think about, and suddenly you're like down and you're feeling it."

This quote reveals Sahil's perspective on the disproportionate impact of negative feedback on social media and its emotional effect on content creators.

Reevaluating the Definition of Hard Work

  • Sahil discusses how his perception of hard work has evolved from working long hours to taking care of his full self.
  • He believes that creative work requires a holistic approach to well-being.
  • Sahil's changing perspective is influenced by the understanding that hard work is not solely about the number of hours put in but also about the quality and inspiration behind the work.

"Like I used to think of hard work in a very absolute sense, where it meant I had to be working 100 hours a week. I had to be waking up at 345, showing up to office at 630. The last one in the office sleeping 4 hours a night. Like sleep when I'm dead type guy. That was me."

This quote provides a glimpse into Sahil's previous mindset regarding hard work and how it has shifted to incorporate a more balanced approach to productivity and creativity.

Personal Priorities and Self-Care

  • Importance of balancing personal life with professional life.
  • Spending quality time with family is part of taking care of one's full self.
  • Coaching a child's sports team can be a part of this balance.

with my wife in the morning, spend time with my child, coach my child's little league team someday. I think that is part of taking care of my full self in a way that I didn't agree that it was before.

This quote emphasizes the speaker's realization of the importance of balancing personal commitments with professional ones, and how family activities contribute to overall well-being.

Definition of High Performance

  • High performance is subjective and individual-specific.
  • Involves accelerating in both the output and the quality of that output.
  • Improvement over time is a key factor, both in quantity and quality.

I think it's totally individual. I think it completely depends on the person. For me personally, high performance means accelerating in the output and quality of that output. And it has to be better than it was a month ago much better than it was two months ago, both in the quantity and the quality of it.

Sahil Bloom defines high performance as a personal metric that involves consistent improvement and enhancement in the results one produces over time.

Successful Romantic Relationships

  • Open trust and communication are crucial.
  • Enjoyment of simple, everyday moments together is key.
  • Romantic moments are easy, but true connection is enjoying the mundane together.

I think, like, open trust, being able to communicate, and honestly being able to realize that most of your life is doing nothing with that person...You have to love that person in those moments just as much, if not more, than in the crazy, amazing romantic moments...

Sahil Bloom reflects on the essence of successful romantic relationships, highlighting the importance of trust, communication, and finding joy in the simplicity of being with a partner.

Belief in Love at First Sight

  • Love requires an emotional and intellectual connection.
  • Dismisses love at first sight as a superficial concept popularized by movies.

I think you need to have a connection with someone emotionally and intellectually in order to truly be in love. I think love at first sight is like this superficial thing that got created for movies, and I just don't think it's real.

Sahil Bloom expresses skepticism towards the notion of love at first sight, advocating for a deeper, more substantial connection as the foundation of love.

The Concept of Soulmates

  • Doubts the idea of a single person meant for everyone.
  • Believes multiple potential matches exist due to the vast number of people in the world.

Rationally, no, I don't. I just think it's impossible scientifically. Like, numbers wise, everything about it. Right. If you were born into a different situation or if you had slightly different life circumstances, I think it's completely possible that you would have still found someone that you were an amazing match for just by the fact that there were so many people out there.

Sahil Bloom challenges the romanticized concept of soulmates, suggesting that there are numerous potential partners with whom one could have a successful relationship.

Traits for Children to Adopt

  • Curiosity and a desire to learn about the world.
  • Being a reliable friend during tough times.
  • Kindness and the importance of not being short-sighted or unkind.

I want them to be interested...I call it a darkest hour friend...And then I think the third one is just to be kind...

Sahil Bloom outlines the traits he hopes his child will embody, focusing on curiosity, reliability in friendships, and kindness.

Personal Growth and Change

  • Personal experiences of being humbled can lead to significant personal growth.
  • The importance of resilience and consistency in overcoming challenges.

I got punched in the face, metaphorically...And that was so important for me as a humbling experience...That was when it kind of flipped for me. I was like, I'm never going to be the most talented...But I'm just going to keep showing up.

Sahil Bloom describes a metaphorical 'punch in the face' as a pivotal moment in his life that led to a change in his perspective and approach to challenges.

Personal Workout Routine

  • Commitment to daily workouts.
  • Undertaking a progressive workout challenge (PlP: Push-ups, Pull-ups, Lunges).

Right now I'm doing this crazy thing called PlP...You start day one, you do ten of each. And the second day you do eleven of each...You go all the way up to where today was 51 of each.

Sahil Bloom shares his current workout routine, which includes a daily increasing number of push-ups, pull-ups, and lunges, reflecting his dedication to fitness.

Favorite Book Recommendation

  • "When Breath Becomes Air" is recommended for its profound impact on understanding life and purpose.

When breath becomes air. The most powerful and life changing book I've ever read...It makes you completely reevaluate what your life and purpose is and what being alive really means.

Sahil Bloom endorses "When Breath Becomes Air" as a transformative book that has deeply affected his perspective on life's meaning.

Evolving Views on Hard Work

  • Shift in understanding the nature of hard work.
  • Recognizing that hard work can be relative, not just absolute.

Hard work. What I said earlier, the nature of hard work and what it means to be working hard. And that you can be working hard in a different way, in a relative sense, versus just an absolute sense.

Sahil Bloom discusses how his perception of hard work has changed, acknowledging that it can vary in context and isn't solely about the amount of effort expended.

Building a Twitter Following

  • Consistency is key.
  • Sharing valuable insights and knowledge.
  • Focusing on a niche and establishing expertise.

Be consistent. Figure out what value you can share with the world. Be consistent in sharing it...don't try to be everything to all people. Figure out what you are and what you're really good at. Own that and deliver that.

Sahil Bloom advises on building a Twitter following by consistently providing value in a specific area and becoming a trusted source in that niche.

Investment Decisions

  • Looking for visionary founders and big ideas.
  • Willingness to take risks on transformative concepts.

Wander, which I mentioned earlier in the conversation...Visionary type founder who I think is exceptional. It's a big swing idea, and if it works, it's going to be so damn cool.

Sahil Bloom shares his excitement about his recent investment in Wander, highlighting the founder's vision and the potential impact of the company's success.

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