Words of wisdom

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Bo Peabody

Chairman, Village Ventures

Sample investments: Away.com, BlueTarp, RadioVoodoo, MindBranch, HealthLeaders.

Fund size: $140 million in assets

After co-founding Tripod, a community for the post-college set, and selling it to Lycos in 1998 for $58 million, Mr. Peabody formed Village Ventures with college buddy and venture capitalist Matt Harris.

My biggest mistake in the Internet era: "[At Tripod,] we didn't see as fast as we should have that what was really going to drive the Web especially in the business-to-consumer space was people communicating with each other rather than us communicating to people. It should have been a no-duh thing . . . but in 1994 and 1995 we were still thinking that we were going to provide the majority of the content"

What I learned from that mistake: "In the VC business, you've got to think laterally. You can't hold onto things. You have to be able to let go of preconceived notions quickly. . . . That requires no ego and real flexibility."

Jim Savage

Founder-General Partner, Longworth Venture Partners

Sample investments: HighWired.com, Roving Software, SoftwareWow.com.

Fund size: $20 million

Jim Savage was general manager of ZDNet until 1997, when he was recruited to join online calendar company PlanetAll. After Amazon.com acquired the company in 1998, Mr. Savage launched Longworth in 1999.

My biggest mistake in the Internet era: "I should have left a large company sooner than I did. It's a lot more fun in a true start-up situation. Your fingerprints are all over [the company] and you go home every day knowing exactly what you've accomplished and what you didn't accomplish."

What I learned from that mistake: "A stronger appreciation for entrepreneurship and what motivates people to take the kinds of risks to start their own company. When you're building out a management team, which is a big part of any early stage company's growth, when I'm talking to very seasoned candidates who spent the bulk or all of their career inside a large company, I'm able to assess whether they're able to make that transition to a start-up.

David Carlick

Partner, VantagePoint Venture Partners

Sample investments: Angara, Primary Knowledge, SpotOn.

Fund size: $1.5 billion

An advertising and direct marketing veteran, Mr. Carlick launched several marketing agencies, led interactive projects for Poppe Tyson and was president of PowerAgent, an Internet direct marketing company that flopped in 1997. He joined VantagePoint in 1999 after spending two years as an adviser.

My biggest mistake in the Internet era: "At the time of PowerAgent, we let ourselves get defused and didn't focus on our e-mail product. . . . By being all things to all people all at once we missed our financing."

What I learned from that mistake: "It taught me great empathy for the entrepreneur [and] great caution with cash and credibility in counseling my companies. "

Mark Kvamme

Partner, Sequoia Capital

Sample investments: Bang Networks, Christianity.com, Tonos Network.

Fund size: $1.2 billion

Mark Kvamme co-founded CKS Partners in 1989 and merged the technology agency with Web shop USWeb in December 1998. (It became MarchFirst in March.) He joined Sequoia in 1999.

My biggest mistake in the Internet era: "I had lunch with [CKS co-Founder] Bill Cleary and he told me we had a chance to take a percentage of eBay and a percentage of Excite. I sold my Yahoo! stock to Softbank before Yahoo! went public. If you were to sum it up, this thing happened a whole lot faster than I thought it would."

What I learned from that mistake: "Focus on great companies. Yahoo! built a great company. EBay built a great company. If you build a great company, you'll be rewarded for it."

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