I have lived the Social Leverage life always (cold calls before the internet), but I named our company Social Leverage back in 2007 with my buddy and partner Tom Peterson. To me, Social Leverage was a new era that was spawned from the ashes of 2008 and the end of a long era of financial leverage.
I started Wallstrip in 2006 with a one page google doc sent to Fred Wilson (whose blog I read daily back in 2005 and 2006). Fred committed on the spot and sent me some phone numbers (Brad Feld, Mark Pinkus, Roger Ehrenberg, Alan Warms) to call and raise the rest. I got the job done with my trusty Motorola Star TAC and Blackberry! Fred is ‘the’ OG of modern Social Leverage.
By 2007, YouTube was ‘the’ thing and although we did not have the smartphone yet from Apple, Facebook and Twitter had taken off. My thinking was anyone could ‘leverage’ themselves on the ‘social networks’ to create whatever flywheel they wanted. As Kevin Kelly (Wired magazine) had predicted, everyone could find their 1,000 true fans. Social Leverage was to be the new financial leverage.
Tom and I set up Social Leverage and started writing seed checks in New York City which is where I was spending most of my time working for CBS after they had acquired Wallstrip.
At the time it felt like I was writing a check a day in New York city. Union Square Ventures, Roger Ehrenberg, Spark Capital and Betaworks were leading the way and I was so inspired by the founders I was meeting. I missed a few great ones of that New York era, but we did invest in the seed rounds of Betaworks (Tumblr, Summize, Giphy, Dots), Bitly, Tweetdeck, Ticketfly, Business Insider and Buddy Media to name a few that went on to great exits.
Today, our firm Social Leverage is investing out of fund 4 and the pace around us is accelerating. The tools to create social leverage seem infinite as do the tactics to make use of it.
There is no ‘one’ right way to foster ‘social leverage’ just as there is no ‘one’ right way to invest.
The key is to start making those social deposits as soon as you can.
PS – This week I am in Miami seeing some friends and family and will share a few of my other favorite ‘Power of Social Leverage’ stories/investments on the blog.