In the latest installment of Success Profiles, a series highlighting the personal and professional journeys of some of the most dynamic entrepreneurs, YFS Magazine speaks with Sarah Lacy, founder of technology news startup PandoDaily.
Award winning journalist and author, Sarah Lacy has spent her career writing about entrepreneurs. As a former staff writer and columnist for BusinessWeek, the founding co-host of Yahoo Finance’s Tech Ticker, and a senior editor at TechCrunch, Lacy is a fixture in the Silicon Valley startup scene.
In November 2011, Lacy left her post at technology media property, TechCrunch, following an acquisition by AOL. She later launched the site of record for Silicon Valley — PandoDaily — in January 2012 to serve as an independent news site covering the technology startup ecosystem.
Backed by $2.5 million in seed funding from well-known Silicon Valley investors and seed funds, the tech news blog found favor and capital from Marc Andreessen, Peter Thiel, Tony Hseih (Zappos), Zach Nelson (NetSuite) and others. When asked about her fundraising experience Lacy explained, “[I knew] from day one I wanted to raise venture capital.”
“And my timing was really good in that, TechCrunch had been bought by AOL … and the investment community felt like there needed to be another really good publication that was doing more than just reprinting press releases about startups — where there was high quality journalism being done,” she explains.
In May 2013 the business news site raised an additional round of funding from Redpoint Ventures, joined by existing investors, reportedly bringing the company’s total funding raised to date to an estimated $3 million.
Learn how Sarah Lacy launched PandoDaily and why she believes entrepreneurs should be deeply motivated by a sense of mission and listen to their gut.
|Location:||San Francisco, CA|
How I Got Started
I knew from day one I wanted to raise venture capital for a couple of reasons.
Before starting PandoDaily I worked at TechCrunch which was totally bootstrapped. I think it took them a lot longer to get to a certain size because they were bootstrapped. It was good in a lot of ways because they were able to keep control of the mission … but ultimately there was a lack of professionalism around it.
Also I knew, not having been a CEO before, I wanted to have a board, advisors and people that I really respected that were a part of the company.
Raising Venture Capital and Keeping Everyone Honest
[I raised venture capital to build] professionalism around the organization. Part of it was also the fact that, at the time, I just had my first baby. I needed childcare, a salary and all of that.
I also felt like, a lot of people had treated blogging as this “low cost” thing. People were killing themselves to build these platforms, writing … and making $30,000 per year and not being able to feed themselves.
I think journalism is a really, really hard job. I wanted to be able to pay the people I hired market rate salaries because I knew I would ask a lot out of them.
Also I’ve been in the Valley for such a long time. I just knew people really well. And obviously I had done a lot to help TechCrunch in the later years. And my timing was really good in that, TechCrunch had been bought by AOL … and the investment community felt like there needed to be another really good publication that was doing more than just “reprinting” press releases about startups.
That’s one thing that a lot of people didn’t understand about our business in the early days. Really powerful people want an independent media company covering them. While they may get upset if you write something critical about them, they’re really upset if you don’t write something critical about their competitors. Someone in the industry has to keep everyone honest.
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