20VC: Bain’s Matt Harris on Why Valuation And Market Size Are Not The Most Important Thing At Series A, Why Backing Sociopaths Can Work & Late Cycle Momentum Investing & The Changes That Will Stay in Venture Forever
Posted on 23rd September 2019 by Harry
Matt Harris is a Partner @ Bain Capital Ventures, a leading US venture fund with a portfolio that includes the likes of LinkedIn, Lime, SendGrid, Jet.com and more incredible companies. As for Matt, he specialises in financial technology and services and has led investments in the likes of Acorns, OpenFin, SigFig, Ribbon and Billtrust. Prior to joining BCV, Matt founded Village Ventures, which he ran for 12 years and where he focused on early-stage fintech investing. Before Village Matt actually started his investing career Bain Capital private equity in 1995.
1.) How Matt made his way into the world of venture from private equity and what led him to specialise as he has done in the world of fintech?
2.) How did seeing the boom and bust of the dot com impact Matt’s investing mindset today? How has Matt’s fear of the cyclicality of markets actually lost him a lot of money in the past? What has that taught Matt on trying to time markets? What were the main takeaways for Matt from running his own firm? How does it differ to a partnership?
3.) Why does Matt believe we are seeing late-cycle momentum investing today? What is the evidence to suggest this? How does Matt think about the right cadence to invest through market cycles? What does Matt mean when he says, “Series A valuation does not matter anymore”? Why? How does Matt assess his own price sensitivity today?
4.) Why does Matt believe that investing in improbable ideas is a good strategy? What does this mean the internal investment decision-making process looks like at Bain? Why is full consensus sometimes a concern? How does Matt approach market sizing? Why does it not matter at Series A? When does it really start to matter?
5.) Matt has said before that “backing sociopaths can work”. What did he mean by this? What founder type does Matt most like to back? Does one have to manage the relationship with them very differently to other founder types? What are the acceptable risks vs unacceptable risks with this founder type?