Morgan Beller, who is a co-creator of the proposed Libra digital currency, along with Facebook vice presidents David Marcus and Kevin Weil, has left the company to become a general partner with the venture firm NFX .
In a call yesterday, she said she first became acquainted with the San Francisco-based outfit five years ago when on a “tech trek” to Israel, she met its local partner, Gigi Levy-Weiss, and formed a friendship with him.
At the time, she was a young partner at Andreessen Horowitz, working on its deal team after graduating from Cornell as a statistics major.
A role working on corporate development and strategy at Medium would follow, then it was on to Facebook in 2017, where Beller began in corporate development and — intrigued by cryptocurrency tech — where she quickly began evangelizing to her bosses the importance of better understanding it.
As she half-jokingly explains it, “Crypto is a mental virus for which there is no cure. I was at a16z when they got infected with the crypto virus.” She eventually caught it herself, and by the time she joined Facebook, she says she “realized no one was thinking about that space full time, so I took it upon myself to [help the company] figure out its point of view.”
Indeed, a CNBC story about Beller last year reports that at one point, she was the sole person on a Facebook blockchain initiative — meeting with those in the know, attending relevant events, and otherwise researching the technology. Bill Barhydt, the CEO of the digital wallet startup Abra, told the outlet of Beller: “I give her a lot of credit for taking what seems like a very methodical, long-term approach to figuring this out.”
All that said, Beller notes that as a full-time investor with NFX, she will not be focused exclusively or even mainly on crypto. Her focus instead will be finding and helping to cultivate seed-stage startups that aim to grow so-called network effects businesses.
It’s the broad theme of NFX, a now 25-person outfit cofounded five years ago by serial entrepreneurs who have all seen their companies acquired, including Levy-Weiss (who cofounded the online travel site Lastminute.com, and the social casino game publisher Playtika); Pete Flint (cofounder of the home buyers’ site Trulia); and James Currier (of the social network Tickle).
Certainly, she will keep busy at the firm, she suggests. As part of getting to know the partners and their thinking better, she introduced them to one company that they have since funded.
The pace has generally picked up, Flint tells us, saying that during the second quarter of this year and the third, NFX has twice broken its own investing records both because of “incredible founders who are reacting to this opportunity” and growing awareness about NFX, which last year closed its second fund with $ 275 million.
Last month, for example, NFX led a seed round for Warmly, a nine-month-old, San Francisco-based startup whose product tracks individuals in a customer’s CRM system, then sends out a notification when one of his or her contacts changes jobs. It also led a round recently for Jupiter, a year-old, San Francisco-based grocery delivery startup.
Naturally, Beller’s new partners are full of praise for her. Flint says the firm began looking for a fourth partner two years ago and that it has “spoken with dozens of exceptional people” since then, but it “always came back to Morgan.”
As for why the 27-year-old is ready to leap back into VC, Beller says that her work across Facebook and Medium and a16z “made me realize my favorite parts of projects is that zero-to-one phase and that with investing, it’s zero-to-one all day” with a team she wanted to be part of.
Further, she adds, while at Facebook, she was helping scout out deals for the venture firm Spark Capital, so she’s already well-acquainted with the types of founders to which she gravitates. “They’re are all weird in the right ways, and they’re all maniacally obsessed with winning.”
As for how she launches her career as a general partner in a pandemic, she notes that she loves walking and that she’ll happy cover 20 miles a day if given the opportunity.
“If anyone wants to safely walk with me,” she suggests that she’d love it. Says Beller, “I’m not worried about San Francisco longer term. I don’t think there’s a replacement for in-person meetings.”
I’ve created a web-scraper that scrapes vehicle insurance companies in my country, auto filling the quote forms with data to generate quotes. My small country only has about 20 providers. Ive generated a lot of quote data from all these providers.
In your experience, would it be possible to get startup investment for phase 2 of my startup just based off this data and my plan?
Phase 2: My next goal is to employ a small team to implement some machine learning models to approximate the pricing models used by all these providers.
Some important things you need to know first:
– I had a 4 year head-start
– I launched twice
– I have applied to a lot of accelerators, including Y-combinator which I applied thrice. I have also reached out to potential investors and prominent leaders in my project's industry to no avail
– I'm not claiming they stole my idea, this is not a complaint but an open discussion on what I could do next
– My location is part of the problem partially, just at the wrong place at the wrong time
– I'm uncomfortable revealing the industry I'm working in at the moment so I won't name the startups
I started working on a project 4 years ago and built an MVP for it, my years were spent looking for co-founders, a team, and most importantly, investors. I got non of them, it was either promises that went nowhere or no replies at all. As a single founder, I knew it would be hard to bring someone on board with the situation in our country, the idea excited them but not enough for them to put in the hard work or money.
You must be wondering, maybe it was a terrible idea? My spirit was broken multiple times but I knew it had value. You may also think I should've looked for the first users since I built it already. Well it isn't that easy, the project's particular industry requires a workforce behind it, think of it as Uber if it launched without on-boarding drivers or with no drivers at all.
I don't know how to say this without sounding like a pompous douchebag but I blame my country or people whichever way you put it for one reason, the lack of vision. The people I met almost always said the same thing, "We aren't ready for that", "This is complicated" etc.. I take part in the blame because I believe I didn't explain it well or sell it good enough. I noticed my shortcomings and worked on it. Years of iteration (for 1 user, me) currently gives me hope in beating this competition that doesn't even know I exist. I believe I have gained experience by studying the idea, doing surveys, iterating, and by launching twice, both times giving me promising metrics but not being able to sustain it due to the reasons I stated above, a team.
This year I just found a way to launch without any help, self-funded and community-driven, and then I see it, there it was on Product Hunt, by 2 founders. The feedback was amazing, for me I took them all personally without question, I was actually happy because this is something I really wanted to exist, and here it is, backed by investors and funded with 7 figures. This also validated my idea in a way and I couldn't be more happier for them.
If I had a lawyer, I know they would stop me from doing what I'd do next, but I still went with it. I emailed them to congratulate them and imply that I had something similar and would love to share my findings/research, they actually have a position open for a Lead who they'd love to have to bring in their ideas. I requested for a shot at that position too. It was in Silicon Valley so maybe this COVID situation would let me be considered for remote work too. That's what I told my self, that's what I did.
It's been over 3 weeks now and both founders haven't replied, I have mail tracking so just one of them opened my email.
I didn't disclose my findings or links nor did I tell them to lawyer up, I offered help and a consideration for a position which I believe I could do good in. I explained in the email that I understand there might be legal issues but I'm happy to cooperate.
Some questions you might ask:
– Is the idea behind the product that common?
No, almost everyone in the industry misses it, I don't think it's worthless either, just that the current model is working well and I believe it shouldn't be that way. I'm a strong believer at this as a user, the other startup's vision is also the same, they believe there is a standard to set and they did it.
– Why don't you just launch this last version?
That's why I'm here, I'm afraid am being delusional and just need a few voices of reasoning
– Is there a patent on it
Mine? no. Theirs? I don't think there is, I searched for it on U.S patent databases and I don't think it's could be deemed as intellectual property in the first place, I could be ignorant about this I really haven't sought legal counselling
Please do ask questions, I'd love to answer.
TLDR: My startup failed after 2 launches and another one with resources and workforce that I don't have just launched right before I wanted to launch a third, final time
Edit: The other startup is behind a paywall and only limited to the iPhone, mine is free to the users and has a model similar to reddit gold where the content is free but you could still support it. It is also available across all platforms