It’s all about connecting people (announcing 8-Bit Capital)

Several years ago I had a crazy idea for a website where people would map out their real-life relationships online. Instead of using fake names, they would use their real name and photo on the Internet, and invite their friends do it with them. Some people thought this was obviously a bad idea. But I created a prototype and invited some friends, and they loved it, and started inviting their friends. People used it to catch up with old friends, make new friends, and much more. It was called Friendster, and it grew exponentially, and inspired an entire industry.

Around this time, I met Kent Lindstrom. Kent and I were participating in an event in Silicon Valley, giving advice to other entrepreneurs. Kent invested in Friendster very early, before we had any venture funding, or even an office. Kent correctly sensed that Friendster was the start of something big, and immediately started helping out, without asking for anything in return. In fact, he was so helpful, I asked him to join Friendster as the first member of the management team. Kent ended up serving as COO, CFO, and CEO of Friendster. We went through a lot of ups and downs at Friendster, and learned a lot.

Recently, Kent and I started a third business together. Instead of another software startup like Friendster or Nuzzel, we have co-founded a new investing firm to invest in early stage software startups. We named it 8-Bit Capital, a nerdy retro reference to the first generation of home computers and video games from companies like Apple, Atari, and Commodore. 8-Bit Capital invests in startups that connect people and businesses in new ways. We focus on software tools and platforms that use the power of networks.

From the start of my career as a telecommunications software engineer at Nortel in Canada, to moving to Silicon Valley to work at Netscape, to inventing Friendster, to my angel investments in companies like AngelList, Docker, Front, HelloSign, Instacart, Mixmax, Pachyderm, SafeGraph, Slideshare, Stream, and Zeplin, connecting people has been a recurring theme in my work.

The same is true of Kent. Kent has been a founder and CEO himself, and has also helped and supported other entrepreneurs like me as a COO and advisor. In addition to Friendster, Kent has run a global software development company, founded startups in mobile commerce and electronic publishing, and worked in finance.

Now we are investing in the intersection of software and networks, including social, future of work, cloud, and fintech startups.

We were inspired to start our own investing firm by some examples from our friends, for example our Friendster colleague Jim Scheinman of Maven Ventures, who was the first venture investor in Zoom, and my Founders Den co-founder Zack Bogue of DCVC.

We decided it made sense for us to start 8-Bit Capital for 3 reasons:

1. We love helping other entrepreneurs. For example, I have been a mentor in Steve Blank’s entrepreneurship class at Stanford, and a top-rated mentor at Techstars. Kent has been a guest lecturer at Harvard Business School, and a mentor at Startup Mexico.

2. The consistent feedback we have received from entrepreneurs has been that our advice and help has been especially useful. There are a lot of other investing firms in Silicon Valley, but we seem to have something unique to offer that entrepreneurs appreciate.

3. We have been previously successful as investors in early stage software startups.

To help entrepreneurs at 8-Bit Capital, we bring together my technology skills and Kent’s financial skills, and our experience as founders and CEOs. We combine our different perspectives not just as entrepreneurs, operators, and angel investors, but also as advisors to both startups and funds, mentors, limited partners in venture funds, co-founder of one of San Francisco’s favorite communities for startups and investors, and as host of one of Silicon Valley’s top business podcasts.

For us, it’s all about connecting people. Connecting people and businesses with software and networks, connecting entrepreneurs with capital and help and valuable introductions, connecting founders and investors in a community at Founders Den, and connecting listeners with interesting Silicon Valley guests on Kent’s podcast Something Ventured.

If you are an entrepreneur using software and networks to connect people and businesses in new ways, we would love to hear from you. We usually invest in a startup’s first round of funding.

Learn more about 8-Bit Capital at and read about our fund announcement at TechCrunch.