UPDATE: Investors are still giving me shit for this and it’s pissing me off. Look people, I asked a legit question publicly that A LOT of other people, primarily ENTREPRENEURS, have asked privately––including CEOs of companies that Dave Tisch has invested in (they’ve emailed me). It’s a real issue.
Yes, I am the asshole who asked the question, but I’m just the messenger. Really, this is TechStars bad for not having thought: “Hmm, broke ass entrepreneurs might wonder why a trust fund baby who’s never started a company is running TechStars:NYC? We should probably address this question on our website and in the press before entrepreneurs start wondering or whispering to each other.”
I’d never amount to nothin’, to all the people that lived above the
buildings that I was hustlin’ in front of that called the police on
me when I was just tryin’ to make some money to feed my daughters.
-Biggie Smalls, Juicy
I mean, I meant to be provocative, but sheesh:
In my mind, I was asking a pretty straightforward, obvious question: How the hell does a trust funder from the Tisch family end up running an elite technology incubator in my old hood…without ever having started or sold a company???
Something smelled fishy…very East Coast, old money cabal.
It should surprise no one, but I have a thing against old money. I dislike unearned wealth–it undermines the meritocracy and the American dream. If I am lucky enough to create wealth for myself, I will not pass it on to my children–if they are to have any, they must make their own.
For some context, I went to Columbia, where there was plenty of old money floating around. While all the rich kids partied on the weekends and interned for their dad’s friends in Midtown, I worked on an ambulance in the South Bronx, picking up drunks and doing CPR on junkies.
I did that job 24-50 hours a week. While the money allowed me to attend Columbia, the time suck prevented me from getting internships, building my resume and doing the things everyone else was doing to make themselves hirable post-college. I envied the trust funders and their endless opportunities.
Hence the chip on my shoulder.
But back to the previously scheduled blog post…
On Friday, I spent an hour on Skype with one of our investors from New York. He brought up the Tisch kerfluffle.
Me: “Jesus, it’s like I kicked a puppy! Everyone and their sister has a hard on for this guy. Holy cow!”
Investor: “Yeah dude, I was a little suspicious of him at first too. But Dave’s a really good guy. And the TechStars NYC Demo Day was the best Demo Day I’ve ever seen anywhere.”
Me: “So everyone says…”
Investor: “Well, the inside scoop is that yeah, he comes from money, but he wants to prove that he’s his own man, that he’s not just some trust fund kid with a last name. He’s got a chip on his shoulder.”
A chip on his shoulder…now that is something I can relate to.
Truth is, that’s my tribe: the strivers, the unsettled ones––the men and women with something to prove.
The thing I like about that explanation is that it speaks to my heart more than all the tweets about the slickness of TechStars Demo Day or that, really, Dave’s a nice guy. It tells me that he has a reason to fuck with the status quo, to create and to destroy, to be more than just a crony… that he has a reason to be an entrepreneur.
And that, my friends, is what this country, what America is all about.
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