Link Blog: Run Away When a VC Wants to ‘Preempt Your Next Round,’ How Barbie Got Made, Air Jordan Fraud, and More

Ok, I’ll get back to my procession of Startup Land Heat Checks shortly, but in the meantime, here’s a bunch of smart stuff I’ve enjoyed reading over the last few weeks:

a person reading a magazine while stuck in a spider web, anime

It’s Not Your Fault, But It’s Your Problem [Charles Hudson, Precursor] – I vigorously agree with so much of what Charles writes, and so glad he’s getting posts out more frequently these days. This paen is a reminder that lots of the time you’ll encounter real roadblocks caused by issues outside of your control, but where you still need to navigate them to move forward.

Right now, we are in a moment where many founders find themselves confronting problems they didn’t create but must tackle. This is not the time to complain or lament your fate – it’s your opportunity to rise to the occasion and push through despite the challenges.

What makes this worth reading is that Charles has empathy for founders (he’s been one), and will continue to show up as one of their investors in a supportive manner. So it’s not “rah rah go do the work and make me my money” bs content marketing. It’s words (and advice) he’s been given and had to take himself.

Preempting the Round [Jared Hecht, Founder – GroupMe, Fundera] – The first time a founder hears an investor suggest they might want to ‘preempt their next round’ they 🍾. The second time a founder hears this they 🙄. Jared takes you through why. It happens often enough that I’ll write a post later about what to do once you get this advance from an investor, but even that one will be largely based on the wisdom and battle scars shared here.

I’ve been burned by entertaining preemptive rounds on multiple occasions. It’s like touching the hot stove repeatedly.

The Air Jordan Drop So Hot It Blew Up an Alleged $85 Million Ponzi Scheme [Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou and Kim Bhasin/Bloomberg] – My goodness ZIRP and COVID was a perfect storm for a ton of fraud. I wonder how much of the growth in the sneaker exchanges was driven by pure speculation, venture dollars, and unsustainable economics. I” know it’s a huge industry overall and sneaker heads are a real community but just read this article before flaming me.

“But there was no secret shoe pipeline. In fact, Malekzadeh would simply wait until the shoes he’d presold were released, then purchase them on the open market from retailers such as StockX, according to people familiar with his operation who asked to remain anonymous because the matter is sensitive. Delivery delays could persist as long as a year, but he managed to fulfill most orders—until one day he couldn’t.”

Mixtape Sites Like DatPiff Propelled Rap. Can They Be Preserved? [Brian Josephs/New York Times] – Save the culture! I wish we could at least freeze these in some format that recognized their important role in hip hop.

“That freedom unlocked an era of unfettered creativity for a generation of artists and built a critical digital-first audience that would later lead to rap’s dominance in streaming. It also led to the current dilemma: How do you preserve a part of hip-hop history that isn’t necessarily legal?”

After “Barbie,” Mattel Is Raiding Its Entire Toybox [Alex Barasch/NewYorker] – Came out before the movie opened, so the insider account of how the IP negotiations occurred is even more astounding as box office approaches $1B. I interned at Mattel in the summer of 1999 so have some light first-person stories about how this company works.

At the start of the “Barbie” process, Gerwig decided to write the screenplay with her partner, the writer-director Noah Baumbach. Mattel and Warner Bros. insisted on seeing a preview of the script’s contents. The couple balked—they needed the freedom to experiment. Jeremy Barber, an agent at U.T.A. who represents Gerwig and Baumbach, is close with Brenner, so he could be blunt. “Are you crazy?” he told her. “You should’ve come into this office and thanked me when Greta and Noah showed up to write a fucking Barbie movie!”