The venture capital firm Greylock Partners — backers of Facebook, LinkedIn, Pandora, Tumblr, Cloudera, Workday and others — got such a flattering cover story in Newsweek this week, even prominent Greylock partner David Sze was a little embarrassed. In a letter sent to contacts early this morning and forwarded to Re/code, Sze sought to clarify “this was not some scripted puff piece like others push.”
Sze said the appearance that the firm (and he especially) was being self-promotional made him uneasy. Then he went on to detail a number of things he would have included in the “final product” (as if that were how journalism worked!), like the inclusion of Greylock’s enterprise investments. I guess he’s getting his wish because we’re printing the letter below:
Since a number of you have noted or been kind enough to tweet about it, I wanted to share some back story about the Newsweek cover piece on Greylock just published (see below if not already encountered). We are unused to this kind of piece, and it makes us uneasy, as we try to do all things in service of our companies and this risks not seeming that way.
First, for friends of the firm, I think it is important to know that this was not some scripted puff piece like others push. That’s not our style as you know. Initially, the reporter was focused on writing a story that showcased a few early stage companies that “could be the next Facebook” in 5-10 years from now. We were happy to help showcase our companies and the great Founders/CEOs that run them.
However, through the course of her reporting, she kept hearing the same story from the CEOs with whom we work — that we are incredibly valuable investment partners, that we help them navigate treacherous waters, that the talent wars are brutal and we help them build their teams, and that we are operators with real world experience who can help them build enduring technology companies. These were naturally occurring conversations and not scripted in any way — in fact they were kind of off topic. Nevertheless, as a result, she decided to change the direction of the piece to focus on how Greylock works with consumer technology companies to help them grow. We agreed only if it were to be through the eyes of our companies — what they said, not us.
Second, I do think it is important to note some major omissions in the article given how little control or sense of final product we had:
- It gives way too much credit to me. Those of you who know us, know how important the whole team is to our success. I am very disappointed all my partners weren’t covered as they each are doing and have done amazing things.
- It totally ignores the incredible Enterprise practice we have — the wonderful companies, passionate CEOs/Founders, our great Enterprise Partners, and our great history of successes. I think our team is the best in the business, hands down, and to not have them properly credited is painful.
- It also leaves out the leadership role provided by Aneel Bhusri in the 2000s: building out the West Coast office, pushing for Consumer, and making incredible investments. It also misses the critical roles that Bill Helman and Henry McCance played by embracing change and facilitating our unprecedented triple crown: simultaneous geographic change, generational change, and domain evolution. They were key architects.
- Most importantly, our companies and their great leaders are the reason we exist and why we keep doing what we do — we are indebted to each and every one of them.
Lastly, thank you all for allowing us to work with you and have you as part of our extended Greylock network.
Newsweek declined comment, as did Sze.