One of the weirdest things about my trip down the crypto rabbit hole is that, six months ago, I don’t think I had ever used the word decentralization. I’m not even sure I would have known what decentralization meant if someone else had used it in a sentence while speaking to me. Yet, I was a partner at two decentralized companies, Flight VC ( a decentralized VC responsible for around 10% of all investments in the history of AngelList), and Chameleon Collective (a decentralized consultancy). How weird is that?
Flight VC was started by Gil Penchina, a rock star angel in the Valley. After being asked by Naval Ravikant to be one of the first syndicates on AngelList, Gil quickly decided he wanted to be the Fidelity of angel investing (Fidelity has 75+ different mutual funds), and Gil saw the best way to do that was by partnering with others who had sector expertise. And Flight VC was born.
It’s been great working with Gil/Flight, running the Israeli Founders Syndicate, leveraging the collective expertise of the different Partners and the large and growing investor base across Flight’s syndicates. But largely, I’m out there on my own, plugging in to the Flight network when I have a specific need. I’ve written two blog posts on Flight that can provide context if you’re interested, The Rise of Flight VC in Sept, 2015; and The Rise of Flight VC Continues with The Help of Two Unicorn Exits in Sept. 2016. I’m due for post three, but my obsession with crypto since June, 2017, leaves me with no time to eat, let alone write a blog post about Flight.
The second company I’m a partner at, Chameleon Collective, is even a better example of decentralization, because there’s a deeper level of collaboration. Chameleon has 40+ partners doing GREAT strategic and executional work across a number of disciplines (technology, media, retail…). While the hugely talented Freddie Laker was the Founder of Chameleon, it’s a truly decentralized organization, which means lots of cool things, but two elements are at the core of my love of working for decentralized companies.
First off, most of us know, that we don’t want bosses, because most bosses suck. It’s a thing. They make movies about it.
After working at Chameleon for a while I realized that I don’t want employees any more than I want a boss. I don’t want an employee because I don’t want to tell anyone what to do. I don’t want people working for me. I want people working WITH me. So the first great thing about Chameleon is that I don’t have any bosses or employees, I just have Partners.
Now, the problem is, guess what. Many Partners suck too. Just ask my ex-wife.
So how do you solve for many Partners sucking? The natural answer is, to spend a lot of time curating partners. And Chameleon spends a lot of time curating Partners. But guess what. We suck at curating partners. We suck at it because the quality of a Partner is dependent on both the talent of the individual, and the ability of that Partner to mesh with the other Partners.
I don’t blame my ex-wife for our Partnership sucking. I think marriages are like putting two chemicals together. If it explodes, which chemicals fault is it? It’s obviously the chemical reaction of putting the two chemicals together.
It’s hard to curate partners, because it’s impossible to know if you mesh or explode when put together until you try and mesh.
But the second amazing thing about decentralized organizations is, it’s not very meaningful if you let a Partner in that doesn’t mesh. Because quickly, both sides know it’s not a fit. Quickly, the other Partners stop working with the new Partner, and they leave. No harm. No foul. It’s not like the huge drag when you realize you made a bad hire at a regular firm and you have to work with that bad hire, or try avoiding them, or try firing them, for a long time.
So at a decentralized Partnership like Chameleon, all you’re left with is awesome Partners who mesh and do great work together. And how incredible is that!
Decentralization…… I think it’s a thing.