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A New York VC Spotlight: David Aronoff

A New York VC Spotlight: David Aronoff


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A general partner with Flybridge Capital Partners and self-proclaimed geek Venture Capitalist, David Aronoff is all things technological.

Aronoff has held technical positions as a secure network systems developer at Bell Labs, and leading development efforts for ethernet bridges, switches and routers at Chipcom, where he held a management role. Aronoff went on to co-found the Attitude Network, an internet content startup with gaming websites HappyPuppy and GamesDomain. It was acquired by TheGlobe.com in 1999 for $43 million in stock.

From there, Aronoff became an early-stage investor with Greylock Partners. Some of his noteworthy investments include e-Dial (acquired by Alcatel), Sandburst (acquired by Broadcom) and Xedia (acquired by Lucent).

Aronoff joined Flybridge in June 2005, where he currently manages the NYC office. Flybridge focuses on early-stage, capital efficient companies in IT markets.

Aronoff earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Vermont, where he is a member of the advisory board for the College of Business. He also has a master’s in computer engineering from the University of South Carolina, and an MBA with Distinction from Harvard Business School.

VC Firm:

General Partner, Flybridge Capital Partners (Founded in 2001)

Sector Focus:

SaaS, cloud, mobile, data analytics, video and information security sectors

Boards:

Sand 9
Calxeda
Immedia
BetterCloud
JouleX (Board Observer)

Blog, Twitter and Websites:

Blog
Twitter

Expertise Areas:

Semiconductors, Internet and Mobile Infrastructure, Data Centers, Video and Digital Media

Memorable Quotes:

On giving feedback: “Personally, I feel that any entrepreneur who has the guts to present their idea out loud, whether primordial or well-formed, is taking the ultimate risk in putting themselves out there and deserves open feedback. I strive to respond to every single business idea pitched to me—with honest reasons for saying ‘no’ if that’s the outcome.”

On the right way to say “no”: “I think there are two critical elements to saying ‘No’ well, while doing my job well: 1. Being right most of the time when I say it and, more importantly, when I don’t. 2. Saying it in such a way that I show the respect due the receiving party.

On the “Foothills” philosophy: “Invest a small amount in a team that is focused on a defined niche—with expectations that with hard work, nurturing and good fortune, the team will conquer the niche—climb that first hill. And with luck, once that first hill has been scaled, another bigger one will lie in clear view, and maybe another bigger one beyond that, and so on. In this model, the thought is that a collection of more modest hills (niche markets) will sum to equal a big opportunity, or maybe, just maybe, a mountain (massive market) will reveal itself to yield a home run.”

On errors: “A huge market opportunity provides the basis for growing huge revenues but also affords startups the latitude to make mistakes without any single one likely to cripple the company. In today’s hyper competitive markets, when executing in a small sector, even small errors in execution can be fatal.”

On Enterprise Energy Management: “Among businesses worldwide, the cost of consumption and amount of wasted energy are poorly understood, and even when recognized, very few tools exist to help manage the situation.”

On the “Empire” variety of partnership: “Borrowing from Star Wars is this form of hierarchy where there is a king and the heir apparent—and should one veto, nothing is done. But even if Darth Vader says ‘ok,’ the Emperor can always say ‘no,’ and like the movie persona, whether in the room or not, his/her opinion is tantamount. Identifying the Empire can be tricky, but look for titles like ‘founder’ or ‘founding partner’ on the masthead.”

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About the author: Emily Haile

Emily recently graduated from Tennessee Tech University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications, with an emphasis in public relations and digital media. She was a writer and photographer for the school’s student-run magazine, Eagle Eye, and newspaper, The Oracle. She was also the copy editor for both. She is currently a copy editing intern for AlleyWatch.

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