Get There Alone

The best way to discover and invest in secrets

As Peter Thiel has written about, the best investments start off as secrets. If one investor goes through the mental rigor through research, conversation, and reflection to discover a secret, they are literally living in the future. In my view, the investment decision must be made at this point.

Why? Because every conversation you have about it afterward makes the secret seem crazier and crazier. People convince you you’re wrong. You fight back, but it wears on you. Your gut starts to pull. You start to struggle to explain how you came up with the insight in the first place. Then when it’s time for the big partner meeting, you get outvoted, and the investment doesn’t happen. The core issue here is that they didn’t walk in your shoes as you were discovering the secret. All they see is present-day reality and this crazy idea you brought to the table, not the process behind finding the idea.

This happened to Sequoia, which is arguably the greatest venture capital firm in the world. Jason Calacanis, an outsider turned Sequoia scout from New York, wrote the first scout check into Uber. Unfortunately, Sequoia didn’t follow on in the next round, and the rest is history. But why did this happen? Jason got there alone. Sequoia didn’t.

By exposing a secret to the outside world’s judgment, where no one has done the work to see the secret, you risk it staying that way forever; as a secret. This is why for the best investment decisions, you need to get there alone.