Friday Letter: Is being a venture capitalist the same as sales?

I recently met Brian Rothenberg, a former Eventbrite exec who joined Defy Partners earlier this year. He’ll work as a partner alongside co-founders and Managing Directors Neil Sequeira and Trae Vassallo, who launched the firm in late 2017.

He and I had coffee near our office in San Francisco and we talked about trends in the industry. And I asked about the process of joining Defy, which recently raised $262 million for its second fund.

Rothenberg, who is pretty good at strumming the guitar and did so recently for Defy LPs, is no stranger to the investment world. He worked at Eventbrite with founder Kevin Hartz, who is as prolific of an angel investor as there is, having backed Airbnb, Pinterest and Uber, among others. He called Hartz a great investor.

Rothenberg was also a onetime scout for Sequoia Capital and did stints at Y Combinator, First Round Capital and Canaan Partners, according to his LinkedIn profile.

And he was an an angel investor and an operator, having co-founded SkillSlate, which TaskRabbit purchased for an undisclosed sum in 2011. Rothenberg graduated from USC, where he studied entrepreneurship and marketing.

Still, he wanted to conduct his due diligence on Defy and learn more about what were the stakes in joining the VC world. He said he talked to a number of other investors to gauge their opinion. One very successful VC he met with told him that “he must get used to being a salesman.”

He said he didn’t think at first that being a venture capitalist had anything to do with sales. Entrepreneurs would come to him. But it’s a new age in venture. A buyer’s market. After a few months on the job and meeting with entrepreneurs and learning what they want, he said it’s starting to make sense.

What do you think are the qualities that best make a venture capitalist?

Tell me what you think. You can contact me via my email at Or tell me what you think of other trends taking place in venture.

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