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Ron Conway

Ron Conway80 posts

Ron Conway is an American investor and venture capitalist born in San Francisco in 1951. He has invested in at least 650 startups via his fund, SV Angel. He is involved in politics, advocating immigration reform and efforts by the Silicon Valley tech industry to pursue policy objectives. He worked for National Semiconductor, Altos Computer Systems, and Personal Training Systems. He is renowned for extensive networking, including involving Arnold Schwarzenegger, Shaquille O’Neal, Henry Kissinger, and Ashton Kutcher in tech investment, among others. He previously contributed to companies in the Y Combinator startup seed program. He is married and has three sons.

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2014

Midas List

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Conway appears at #65 on the Forbes list of VC investors. It says he ‘invented the spray-and-pray investing technique,’ but notes SV Angel’s stakes in Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Pinterest, Square, OpenTable, Airbnb, Practice Fusion, Zappos, Zynga and Buddy Media.

Oct 2014

Conway at Startup School 2014

Interview3 Comments

Graham interviews Conway for the Y Combinator event. He says founders must have a dedicated work ethic, get along with their co-founder, and not be afraid to make changes like laying off people who aren’t performing. Conway:

You can’t learn to be ambitious and driven.

Ron Conway at Startup School SV 2014

Jul 2014

Report: $5m funding at $20m valuation

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TechCrunch reports that Twitter asked investors to keep the numbers quiet. It doesn’t state where it obtained the figures for funding and pre-money valuation, beyond hinting that an investor may have leaked them.

9 Jul, 2014

Responds to tax proposal speech

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Conway is reported to clash with Palihapitiya over a proposal that San Francisco tax tech company wealth to offset the industry’s contribution to living costs, including a 1% equity tax on startups, and Palihapitiya’s call for Mayor Lee to resign. Conway:

They’re working to make [San Francisco] a better city and so is Mayor Ed Lee, and it is going to get better, not worse. Maybe you can donate some?

15 May, 2014

Pinterest Series F

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SV Angel is reported to join the round with other investors for a total of $200 million. Valuation is $5 billion.

13 May, 2014

How to screw up a pitch

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Conway tells social news channel Ozy.com that if founders can’t accurately describe their company in one minute, they are likely to lose the investor. On what not to do:

Not accurately describing your company…You’ve got to be able to describe your company – and that’s why it’s called an elevator pitch – in less than a minute.

2013

Conway at Startup School 2013

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Livingston interviews Conway about his investments, and what he thinks is the future of social apps. Conway:

I don’t know because I’m not a founder, but I’m sure people out there [in the audience] have ideas on what is the next social app, because social apps are changing the way people communicate

Ron Conway at Startup School 2013

Oct 2013

Startup School 2013

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Graham interviews Conway about what has changed in tech. Conway:

What’s not changed…is you have to have determination, and conviction. You have to be a leader.

He says that in the Altos days, workplaces were less formal, for instance the employees would drink to motivate themselves to stay until 9 p.m.

I think the startups today know how to segment a little better

His assessment is that software companies have to deliver:

What’s not changed is the fact that you have to focus on growth. Back in the hardware days you didn’t have to focus on product or consumer satisfaction as much…Customers were happy just to get it

Ron Conway at Startup School 2012

12 Sep, 2013

Interview about NSA

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Arrington and Conway discuss the NSA at Disrupt 2013. Arrington talks about issues like seizing encrypted data and hacking phones:

We see what is happening with the NSA, the NSA is strong-arming these companies that are part of our ecosystem…why have you sat by for six months and not done a thing to stop this?

Conway:

I absolutely agree that we have to balance national security, there was this thing called 9/11, the government’s responsibility is to protect… You have to balance that with responsibility… Obviously the events of the last 60 days with the NSAs says that there has to be a balance between national security and transparency.

He says there is a healthy debate and he is focusing on other issues – civic engagement, gun control, and immigration reform:

I’m probably not going to be the tech leader who heads that…right now immigration reform to me is probably more important

Ron Conway Discusses the NSA | Disrupt SF 2013

22 May, 2013

Immigration reform commentary

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Conway writes a piece for Mashable calling for people to join the March for Immigration:

Those of us who work in the technology sector have been calling for smart immigration reform for years. In the past we’ve tried a piecemeal approach, focusing solely on visas for advanced degree foreign-born students in STEM fields because that is the heart and soul of our industry.

Today, I take a different view. I believe our focus was too narrow. Our country needs a comprehensive plan that reforms the entire system of immigration.

If the entire system is broken, it makes no sense to fix just one piece while the rest languishes.

2013

Disrupt 2013 interview

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Arrington interviews Conway, Lee, and Pokorny about where the innovations are in tech.

Lee:

I would actually say in the last 12-18 months ideas are bigger, bolder, more ambitious…

Those include things like drone companies, and scientific research.

Conway:

We just in the last six months have [identified] two new target sectors to invest…education and the internet of things

He says the company is looking at ‘hardware devices communicating constantly with the web’, and says SV Angel is ‘defining’ the new sector of health informatics.

Lee:

The basic idea is if you think about the explosion of genomic medical information, all the medical data that is now being digitized…I think there’s now a chance to turn biology itself into a [tech sector]

Pokorny:

I’m still bullish on consumer innovation

SV Angel | Disrupt NY 2013 Fireside Chat

Downloaded interview

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Conway and Winter are interviewed by Siegler at a Tech Crunch event about the Napster documentary. Conway talks about his efforts to sort out the company’s legal problems:

Technically speaking it’s still not solved…Today we have all the sharing economy companies, like ride sharing and AirbnB, and all the local authorities are acting like the record labels. You can’t stop innovation, and it amazes me that people still don’t know that.

Downloaded with Ron Conway and Alex Winter | Disrupt NY 2013

31 Dec, 2012

Crunchies 2012

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Conway and Lee introduce the awards. Conway talks about the tech industry’s local engagement with politics and the national agenda:

We want to hire San Franciscans inside the tech companies in San Francisco…our agenda this year nationally is to finally pass immigration reform

Mayor Ed Lee & Ron Conway from SV Angel | TechCrunch 2012 Crunchies Highlights

2012

Twilio 2012 speech

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Conway gives the keynote about how the internet is still getting started:

I believe that today the internet is still in its early days…for those that say this is a mature industry….I believe that the heaviest growth for all of us is ahead not behind us

He notes that a year and a half ago, ‘half of us didn’t know what Pinterest was.’ SV Angel sees the biggest opportunities in social, real-time data, big data, social commerce, collaborative  consumption such as AirBNB, and mobile and payments.

TwilioCon 2012 Keynote: Tech Megatrends - Ron Conway

26 Nov, 2012

Stops funding Y Combinator companies

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Conway stops providing funds to companies in the program as the firm reduces the size of its funding to $80,000 from $150,000. Part of this is due to conflict between startup co-founders. Milner, Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst, and Maverick Capital continue to supply funding. Conway will still be involved in the program. Graham says his decision is likely due to SV Angel’s small size relative to the other parties providing funds:

[It] actually didn’t make a lot of sense for [Conway] to be doing it in the first place

12 Nov, 2012

TEDx San Francisco

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Conway talks about how the tech community got involved in San Francisco politics, firstly after Twitter wanted to leave due to payroll taxes, then taxes on stock options, and supporting Ed Lee for election and forming SF.Citi.

The tech community started to say to itself, Wow, we need to stay involved in the government…It was really [Ed Lee’s] idea to form a tech chamber of commerce, and that’s what SF.Citi is.

My best investment: Ron Conway at TEDxSoMa

2 Oct, 2012

CfA Summit 2012

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Conway and Hammer talk at the event about Silicon Valley’s engagement in politics. Conway on the effort to keep Twitter in and improve the environment for startups. Conway:

The tech community in San Francisco…has had a hell of a civics lesson in the last year and a half…I think it can happen in every city in America

Hammer:

At the end of the day for all this creativity for these startups to happen, you need a base, you need engineers…by embracing technology, embracing these business positions it would help you, and at the end of the day out of these ecosystems would come more jobs, more spinoffs

CfA Summit 2012 | MC Hammer & Ron Conway |

Aug 2012

$40m for new fund

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SV Angel IV files an SEC document (here) announcing the intention to fund-raise. The company is investing in two to three startups a month, but gets referred to five qualified deals a day through its network.