Summaries

Setting the Benchmark for Founders | Benchmark | Slush 2023

Published
December 8, 2023
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3
Min Read
Updated
December 18, 2023
Jenna Pitkälä
Setting the Benchmark for Founders | Benchmark | Slush 2023
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Want to learn the best business insights from remarkable speakers at Slush 2023, but don’t have the time to watch the full speeches on YouTube?

You’ve come to the right place. Below is a summary of a speech by Miles, Sarah, Victor and Peter four of Benchmark’s six equal GPs.

(psst: the notes were automatically generated with Wudpecker's AI notetaking tool. If you'd like to check these notes + transcript + audio recording without needing to log in, press here.)

<p class="h1-rich">🤏 TL;DR</p>

Benchmark, known for its small team and maintaining its size over the years, has raised funds consistently at around $250 million per fund. Benchmark has relaxed its ownership threshold and focus on the potential value of a company. They prioritize partnering with founders who care about transforming industries and building amazing companies, and advise managing by performance and progress rather than focusing solely on valuations.

<p class="h1-rich">✨ Summary</p>

Benchmark's Approach and Size

  • Benchmark is known for its small team and maintaining its size over the years.
  • The firm has raised funds consistently at around $250 million per fund.
  • Benchmark has a deep regret for missing out on investing in Airbnb due to ownership constraints.
  • They have relaxed their ownership threshold and focus on the potential value of a company.
  • Benchmark believes in being a deep partner to entrepreneurs and maintaining a small fund to remain selective.

Benchmark's Presence in Finland

  • Four out of Benchmark's six general partners are present in Finland.
  • They find Finland to be a special and exceptional place, particularly in the mobile gaming industry.
  • Benchmark has an intense curiosity to understand what's happening in different parts of the world.
  • They attend events like Slush in Finland to learn about exceptional opportunities.

What Benchmark Looks for in Startups

  • Benchmark looks for founders with curiosity, a strong learning mindset, passion, and authenticity.
  • They prefer founders who see an opportunity to make an industry better rather than focusing on ownership or valuations.
  • Curiosity, love for the game, and a motivated mission are important traits they seek in founders.
  • There is no specific rulebook or criteria for investments; it's about joining the team and envisioning the future together.
  • Benchmark prefers founders who have a laser focus on excelling in a specific opportunity and then expanding into a larger market.

Benchmark's View on Board Seats

  • Benchmark believes that serving on a board is essential for the deep partnership between VCs and CEOs.
  • They feel existentially committed to their role as a board member.
  • Having a board structure allows for a partnership with the CEO and a gaze towards the future.
  • Benchmark considers a board role as a way to serve a purpose greater than any one person.
  • They believe that building great businesses requires a board with a partnership approach.

Cashing Out and Valuations

  • Benchmark does not have a specific opinion on founders and employees cashing out early.
  • They prioritize partnering with founders who care about transforming industries and building amazing companies.
  • Raising too much capital at high valuations can lead to unnatural growth and distract from the core purpose of the business.
  • Benchmark advises managing by performance and progress rather than focusing solely on valuations.

Series A Investments and Barriers

  • The bar for Series A investments is perceived to be higher currently.
  • Founders need to focus on fulfilling customer needs and building enduring value rather than chasing valuations.
  • Benchmark recommends managing by customer orientation and fundamental business principles.
  • They believe the industry is going through a transformative period with AI and expect breakthrough companies to emerge.

Large Language Models and Benchmark's Perspective

  • Benchmark did not invest in large language models and believes the value lies in the applications built on top of them.
  • They see opportunities in end user experiences and connectivity to customer needs.
  • Benchmark encourages founders to be more ambitious and creative than just building co-pilot solutions.
  • They emphasize the importance of open source and developers in building AI experiences.
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Setting the Benchmark for Founders | Benchmark | Slush 2023
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