excerpt from versionone.vc
Boris is a founding partner of Version One and one of the top tech early-stage investors in North America. Born in Germany and based in Vancouver, Boris takes a wide-angle view to find great companies all across North America: from New York and Toronto to Seattle and LA. He is a former board partner with Andreessen Horowitz and is well-respected for his uncanny ability to find the next generation of leaders.
Today, Boris is focused on crypto/web 3, climate/energy, marketplaces and SaaS, looking for the best teams who solve big problems in a unique way. As an investor and former entrepreneur, Boris knows when to push and when to ease off, while always remembering that he is an advisor, not a player.
Before becoming an investor, Boris built an online marketplace for used and out-of-print books in 1999, selling the business to AbeBooks.com where he became COO and led a team of 60 people. After AbeBooks.com was sold to Amazon, he moved into investing, first as an angel and now with Version One.Boris finished his PhD at the Graduate School of Management (WHU), Koblenz, majoring in Business Economics & Business Management.
In 2005, he was named the Pacific Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year. Boris is passionate about science, technology, and entrepreneurship and sits on the board of Canada Learning Code. He is also involved as a mentor with the Creative Destruction Lab in Toronto and Vancouver.
It was very interesting to hear from companies who had to navigate an early internet ecosystem. In 2022, there is a lot to take for granted in terms of available, out of the box solutions with regards to front-end interface libraries for design patterns, back-end automation to connect services together, well trained subject matter experts to assist technical workflows, and the internet itself as a support hub for knowledge based resources.
Boris and his team started in 1999.
For younger readers it's difficult to articulate some of the technical hurdles they may have faced.
- dial-up internet
- limited availability of configurable database models
- limited access to online databases
- shoddy support document to integrate with existing services
- recovering for the dot com bubble
So - navigating technical hurdles is a very important consideration in the backstory here. From a technical outfit to the pioneers:
More details on the backstory:
Boris was fascinated with finding uses for out of print books using the internet to locate buyers. In his opinion this used book market was completely underlooked by the marketplace at the time. This set up an opportunity for his early business. In his words, and something we think needs to be said more, AbeBooks was
"Something that wasn't possible that needed to be done"
Then there were some logistical details
At the time AbeBooks had to buy their own servers, buy their own database licences (likely factoring in international compliance when nobody had a clue what the internet was) and one can only speculate on the capabilities of Transport Layer Security (SSL) in this era. Yikes.
The idea of "finding what isn't done yet" and "going with it" is such a valuable part of this field. In Boris's era, it would be the establishment of quasi mainstream internet protocols and, speculatively, database infrastructure to support metadata storage for necessary data points like:
- quantities of books
- and more!
The impetus itself remains the same:
Find what isn't done yet, make it great.
Go Boris and team. Navigating early internet technology during, and post, dot com bubble sounds hectic. Having a clear purpose for what needs to be built, as in, determining new marketplaces for undervalued literature - makes a ton of sense.
The next chapter of the evening moved into
venture capital related discussion which Twitter did a better job of summarizing than a dev shop like Acorn so:
Internet Takeaways from the night!