By guest authors Irina Patterson and Candice Arnold
Irina: Let’s talk about your deal flow. Where do you get your deals from?
Brad: They come from all over the place. I think a chunk of them come from people who we already either know or have an existing relationship with, who we’ve worked with before. Then a chunk of them come from just outreach from me and my three partners.
We’re all very public. We blog very aggressively about the various themes that we invest in. And we take an approach where all four of us invest in the same types of companies. We all work on everything together so, our approach tends to be one that we describe as thematic. Within each of the themes, we generally try to be intellectual thought leaders around what’s going on at a deep technology and product level in those themes.
So, for example, one of our themes is human–computer interaction. The premise of that is that the way we interact with the computers is going to be very different in the future from the way it has been in the past. The idea of typing on a keyboard and using a mouse as an input device is one we’ll look back on as pretty archaic.
We’ve made a number of investments in those areas, and because we have talked very publicly about those areas, we have attracted a lot of entrepreneurs who have reached out to us. In fact, we’ve made a handful of investments in companies that we’ve come in contact with that way.
For example, a company in New York called Organic Motion that actually reached out directly to us after a blog that I wrote about something. So, I think we get some amount of random inbound deals from entrepreneurs who have found us because of the subjects we’re talking about.
Then I’d say the last category comes from other people who know us really well, who think that we’ll be good fits with entrepreneurs who either they’re working with or they’ve come in contact with, and they make introductions that way.
Irina: Can somebody just e-mail you?
Brad: Of course. My e-mail is [brad (at) feld.com], and I try to respond to all of them. The only e-mails that I don’t respond to are the ones that are resumes. Every day I get between five and twenty-five resumes. I don’t respond to those, but I try to respond to everything else people e-mail me.
Irina: Tell us a little bit about the future of human–computer interaction.
Brad: Well, we believe that the way we’re going to interact with computers is going to change continually over the next twenty years. An example we like to give is the movie “Minority Report” in which – if you remember the movie – the Tom Cruise character interacts with the computer by pointing at it and controls all the media that he is interacting with by using his hands and waving, rather than with a keyboard and a mouse.
The science and tech advisor who actually created that for the movie – it was a Spielberg movie – was a guy named John Underkoffler. He created a company called Oblong to commercialize that technology that he came up with.
We funded that company, and it has released a commercial version of the software. It is a pretty successful company in what they refer to as the spatial operating environment. It’s a way to control a computer by pointing at it rather than by using keys or the mouse to move around the windows – a totally different user interface paradigm.