Going Home

rs2~California-Hills-PostersToday I’m publishing a personal post. If you are looking for some tactical advice on starting up, please check out the First Round Review.

This July, I am moving back to California. I will always be a Red Sox fan, but I will also always be a kid who grew up in the Bay.

The first time I was really scared (that I remember) was on a path out behind Stanford at “The Dish” — on my new bike, a gift from grandparents 3,000 miles away, headed down hill without training wheels and forgetting how to use the brakes in a moment of panic that ended in the long, dry grass and dust of the California Hills.

From our house in Menlo Park I could ride that same bike to Stanford and feel like I was worlds away – riding on paths in and around the eucalyptus and the oak trees or over to Oak Knoll Elementary for a T-ball game — and still be home for dinner.

We had a yard where we grew strawberries and I would eat them when no one was looking and sometimes when they were.

Around kindergarten I started going by the name Joe. My classmates, newly capable of both rhyme and ridicule, focused on my strange name and so I adopted the most unassailable name I could think of as a kid in Menlo Park in the early 1980’s — Joe Montana.

The showtime style of Magic Johnson’s Lakers captured my imagination and this is when basketball first captured my heart (at the time there was no point in being a Warriors fan).

It was very nice to be a kid in California and now I am going back to re-discover this magic and to create some of my own with Carrie and Etta.

Switching coasts will be a big change but my role at First Round will stay the same — I am excited to join the San Francisco office and look forward to surrounding myself with an awesome community of people out West. As we move forward with our fifth fund (and the fourth that I have been around for), I am grateful to the founders we serve and the LPs we partner with for their continued support and faith in First Round — and for their specific support of my desire to return to California.

I will miss the friends I have made in New York and while I’ll have to work a little harder to plan our time together, I am sure we will make it happen regardless of the distance. The timing of my move also means I will miss the opportunity to share an office with Wiley, who is joining us in New York as our first Venture Partner. I could not be happier to have him on my team, but the chance to learn from him and his approach in person each day in is something I wish I could have done — and there is also the push-ups…

I might still do the push-ups Wiley, I’ll just be 3 hours behind.

The poster of Ray Strong’s California Hills has hung in every home I ever lived in – from Menlo Park to Brooklyn. It will find a place in our San Francisco home as well — but when I look out the window, the real thing won’t be so far away. I am smiling just thinking about all of this.

I am grateful to everyone who has welcomed me to the Bay Area so far. I look forward to meeting new neighbors and making new friends – talking hip-hop, hoops and conspiring to fix the UX of VC with another group of founders and co-investors. If you have recommendations for sneaker stores, restaurants and stuff to do with a super active 3 year old on Saturdays in San Francisco, send them my way.