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It’ Been a Busy Downturn for Polaris

December 18, 2008


As the year draws to a close my partners and I have been reflecting on the incredible events that will make 2008 one for the history books. Clearly the extraordinary market decline and the recession have brought fairly extreme challenges to pretty much everyone, and neither VCs nor the entrepreneurs we back have been immune. It has been a challenging year.

Without in any way minimizing the economic storm clouds all around us, we nonetheless saw lots of accomplishments across the portfolio during the year and want to make sure we steal away from all the ominous news and conversation for a minute to reflect on those accomplishments and the entrepreneurs who made them happen. In fact, it is in the face of downturns that the passion, determination and sacrifice of great entrepreneurs shines the brightest. And as we look back over 2008 it struck that we are incredibly fortunate to have our portfolio filled with so many great entrepreneurs who are as determined as ever and are figuring out how to weather the storm and build great businesses.

Just over the last 3 days I have spent substantial amounts of time with a handful of my Bay Area portfolio companies and entrepreneurs — from Automattic and Quantcast and LOLapps and Sprout and Black Arrow (Jason from Plinky  is off to NYC for meetings so I didn’t see him) — and came away from each truly energized by what they are doing.  Each of these teams certainly is mindful of the economic climate, but each remains as determined as ever not just to make it through but to build great businesses. It is nothing short of inspiring; like everyone else in my shoes, I find myself in a foxhole, and it dawns on me that these are precisely the sort of folks one want in the foxhole with you.

So while my partnership has lots to think about as we look ahead to 2009, the accomplishment I think we are most proud of as a partnership is the role we’ve played in helping many of these great entrepreneurs get to a place where they will be able to make hay for us all when the sun comes back out. Specifically, since June we have completed 34 followon investments with existing portfolio companies, not one of which would have happened if we didn’t genuinely believe in the team and their ability to succeed.  On top of which we have made 14 new investments during the same period, making this among the most active periods in the firm’s history.

It’s been a busy downturn!

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