Early investing = Early adopting
As seed-stage investors, First Round Capital invests early in a company's life. Typically we're funding PowerPoint slide decks -- and are investing in pre-product, pre-revenue companies with incomplete teams and uncertain business models. The reason we're able to take this much risk is because we only invest in areas we really know: Internet-enabled businesses (both enterprise and consumers). By restricting our investments to a specific focus, I find that we are (hopefully) able to leverage our experiences and industry knowledge to help us make smart investment decisions. My own experiences in eCommerce, for example, have been very helpful to building our investment hypothesis in that area...
One of the best ways for us to stay informed about the industry we invest in is to be hands-on with the technologies that impact the market. My partners and I were some of the earliest venture bloggers. We were among the first 140 Twitter users (though I'd gladly trade my early adopter Twitter user-number for Fred Wilson's Twitter equity). And our recently redesigned First Round Capital website, provides us with a very valuable sandbox from which to explore new web technologies. The integration of data into the First Round Capital News Feed (including job postings, company news, new investments, tweets, and even foursquare checkins) has helped us better understand the power (and limitations) of the implicit web.
And that's why, when Facebook announced the launch of their distributed "Like Button" today at their f8 conference -- we jumped on it. Just a few hours ago Facebook launched a feature that allowed publishers to leverage Facebook's social connections inside their own sites. And they rolled out the feature with over 30 major publishers participating in the launch. Big publishers such as CNN and ESPN. And I'm happy to announce that First Round Capital has just joined the list. The news feed on our homepage now integrates into Facebook - bringing the social graph onto to our site...and hopefully leveraging Facebook to drive incremental traffic.
I think that by being hands-on with new technologies, you can get a good sense of the possibilities they unlock. And so far, I'm very impressed with the ability to bring social interaction onto our site. (And I am also impressed with our in-house product manager - who was able to get it live in less than 12 hours after the announcement).