Friends of Roble: December 2023

Roble Ventures
December 6, 2023
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As we deliver our final newsletter of the year, we wanted to reflect on 2023 and give you a sense of what we can expect in early-stage investing in 2024.

Overall, 2023 has been a challenging but stabilizing year for startups and venture funds alike, and we are seeing that the most decisive entrepreneurs, advised by the most experienced venture investors, have quickly learned how to save money while continuing to push product innovation. Startups with much lower burn rates and more innovative products will enjoy the fruits of their hard labor and be able to scale sales in a more favorable selling environment in 2024. We continue to see enterprise budgets stabilize and their purchasing appetites increase — with clear evidence coming from our portfolio companies’ acceleration in revenue and pipeline in Q4.

According to Wall Street, industry research, and our internal checks, we are optimistic that 2024 will be an incredible vintage for technology and early-stage startup creation. It will look much like 2009/2010, where — in the aftermath of the financial crisis — we saw the most fruitful time for forming what would become transformational companies.

We’ll be holding our first Annual LP Update webinar on January 16th, 2024, where we’ll discuss some of our standout portfolio companies and other highlights of Fund I as we gear up for Fund II. If you want to learn more, please reply to this email and we’ll follow up with details.

Thank you for your interest in Human Enablement. We look forward to seeing you all in the new year.

David, Emily, and Sergio

The Roble Ventures Team

Lens Into a Human-Enabled Future


One of the most valued and appreciated services we provide to our founders is our tried-and-true playbooks on board composition and board management, which are critical to creating a well-functioning company.

Board chemistry is something few founders think much about in the foundational moments of the seed stage. Instead, board matters are often regarded as an afterthought, leading to a dysfunctional, ill-constituted board flooded with the wrong people who lack a shared vision and proper accountability.

We saw this painfully play out with the OpenAI board debacle in November, and have seen it at other high-profile Silicon Valley companies over the years. These issues are not isolated, and are more common than most people think.

Read Sergio's post on LinkedIn here.

Speaking of careful selection, our own David Perez-Hernandez went into a deep dive on choosing an Initial Customer Profile (ICP) for early-stage AI startups focused on enabling collaborative data partnerships to fuel better machine learning.

See the full deck here.

The takeaway: your most valuable client will likely be the one who can help you build the most robust AI product.

The Latest From Our Founders


If you’re a team leader, Rising Team is offering a free Gratitude Kit until December 15th. This interactive, experiential team-building session runs for 45-60 minutes and can accommodate up to 14 team members, either remotely or in person. This Kit is a fantastic way to close out the year on a positive note. Rising Team also announced the launch of their Minis feature – bite-sized sessions of only 10-15 minutes.

Dragonboat, a leading product portfolio planning platform, held ACCELERATE 2023, a summit featuring world-class product leaders from GitLab, GoDaddy Commerce, Ancestry, Fidelity Investments, StackOverflow, and more. If you run a product-oriented team, we recommend that you read their top takeaways from the summit here.

Pair AI, a revolutionary mobile education platform, released a course taught by Scott Galloway that distills the learnings from his MBA-level class on brand strategy into two hours of TikTok-style lessons for free. Enroll here before their discount ends.

What Keeps Us Up at Night


Despite the many shocking developments of 2023, we are encouraged by the macro signals that point to a fantastic vintage year for creating new startups in 2024. We’re seeing the same critical ingredients we saw in 2009/2010, a year that saw the emergence of many disruptive companies.

Still, we predict they will follow three primary themes:

  1. AI edge applications will create breakthrough results for incumbents like the Magnificent Seven, plus another handful of relevant public companies. This will allow the public markets to continue embracing technology companies.
  2. The IPO market will open up in 2024. More importantly, as inflation eases and the U.S. economy has its soft landing, we will also see that the IPOs of 2-3 years ago will begin to perform. Post-IPO performance is critical to show public investors that these venture-funded companies can deliver the proper returns. Ultimately, we will see in H2 of 2024 that the venture investment class will be favored again, especially if we begin to see that growth appetite.
  3. The looming 2024 election and the wars in Ukraine and Gaza are geopolitical tragedies and challenges that we will continue to worry about in 2024, but we predict that democratic processes and diplomacy will thrive in H2 2024 and into 2025. A stable macro environment is critical to enabling enterprise and consumer spending. There is a solid chance that we can achieve a “goldilocks” scenario of low inflation, lower interest rates, and solid economic output by H2 2024. In addition, if AI development continues to mature, we could see one of the most favorable backdrops for the startup ecosystem we have seen in a long, long time.

What Caught Our Attention


Pika, which is building AI tools to generate and edit videos, raises $55M (TechCrunch)

The AI Spectrum for Founders (NFX)

After closed door OpenAI drama, open source AI backed by Nvidia, Eric Schmidt, could emerge winner (CNBC)

Incumbents vs. Startups: The Showdown Over Generative AI (B2BaCEO)

How Women Improve Decision-Making on Boards (HBR)

How some of 2023's biggest AI winners have fared a year after ChatGPT's launch (CNBC)

Where HR Will Focus in 2024 (Gartner)

Never discount the price of your software (Ankur Nagpal on X)

Are you a founder currently raising in the Future of Work or Future of Learning space, or know someone who is? Pitch us.

About the author

Roble Ventures
noun: oak

Roble Ventures is a future-of-work focused fund investing in technologies that enable people, teams, and organizations to achieve their most ambitious work.

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