Andrew Ritchie Stuff


Responses to my novel pitch from prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalists

19 Jan 2015

Peter Thiel - Founders Fund

Naturally we can use a 2-by-2 matrix to help us think about American literature. On the horizontal axis you have earnestness & sincerity in the author's depiction of the living world. On the vertical axis you have form, ranging from realist to experimental. The earnest author loves the world and wants us to share in that love. Think Wal-mart realism or Jennifer Egan. Her (or his) foil is deeply sardonic. Think DeLillo, famously called the chief shaman of the paranoid school of American fiction. Some would say it's an oversimplification to be satisfied in calling DeLillo sardonic but those are the critics who endlessly prowl Stein's Tender Buttons for meaning. The sardonic author is suspicious of the world around us and wants to lead us on a tour of exactly why that suspicion is just.

I would like to avoid venturing into the thorny issue of form and what exactly constitutes realism or experimentalism. Though as my friend Lawrence Summers similarly said about idiots "they exist, look around."

Now as for your work. It is thoroughly in the top-right of our canonical literary matrix, and while up and to the right is the preferred direction for my technological investments. I will say, with some trepidation, and I do hope you will not carelessly repeat my words here: literature is more resistant to models. While I would be the last to say that an industry will never be modeled I will go as far as saying my investment thesis is to stray away from and ahead of the pack, while your work is trending toward fashionable drivel.

Marc Andreeson - a16z

I am really glad you wrote this and the ideas here support my arguments against the "robots eat all the jobs" thesis. That said I have some real concerns about your potential for viral growth. What I need to see to be on board as an investor is a hockey stick shape (up and to the right!) and I am not seeing a hockey stick in your paragraphs of baseball analogies reminiscent of the beginning pages of American Pastoral. This is a very scrappy Ozzie Guillen and I am looking for a slick Wayne Gretzky. And when I say that I must also say I am not speaking about the race of any of the players in the metaphor, this is about high growth business and high growth business is a hockey stick. Here in Silicon Valley we bring in people and ideas from all the fringes. It's a big tent. Now your novel, I want you to go home and take a long hard look at what you think venture capital will do for you. If you can walk back in here on another day and make an ironclad case to me that your rumination on our generation's flyaway children who feel themselves wronged mean potential 10x returns to my fund then you have yourself a deal, otherwise this may be more of a lifestyle business.

Tom Perkins - Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, Byers

From the Occupy movement to the demonization of the rich embedded in every word of your latest "literary" pretensions, I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent. You embody a very dangerous drift in American thinking. Are you familiar with the ceaseless and stunning success of the author Danielle Steel? Your book is an insult to all that is marketable. Have you given even a second of thought to how you will get placement in airport newsstands?

Aston Kucher - A Grade Investments

WOW! DUDE! I am on board with your vision here. This could really change the consumer literary space. The thing is, I have worked with a lot of colleagues of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, as well as playing Mr. Jobs in a Hollywood feature film. He's a man I admire deeply. And this novel, it touches on, it really touches on, the type of artistry required to build beautiful computer interfaces and solve problems in a way that consumers of past eras have never been offered. That's true disruptive innovation. With your take on the bildungsroman you address not only the gap between consumers and the internet but the grasp of one on the other. What I'd love to see is us talking again in a month and me hearing that your female protagonist has doubled her traction within your target market, but most importantly I'm close to a green light.

Gary Vaynerchuk - VaynerRSE

Look I love what you're doing. I love that you have more on your mind than just Marx or Freud. But hey it's 2014 not 2007 and I want your prose to say that. Fuck "say that," I want your prose to beat its chest and scream that at me! My goal in life is to buy the New York Jets. From you I want to see prose that wants to at least buy the Miami Dolphins. In your last novel you wasted so much time mourning a marriage that took too much for granted and I see a big step forward here. I see that you have urgent things to say about consumerism, pharmacology, biotechnology and the “optimistic egalitarianism” of the American Middle West. And yet when I look at this novel I just don't see a Twitter or a Tumblr or an Instagram. But you know what they say: Iterate! Fail fast! I love your attitude, it's a fucking pleasure to be here in the room talking with you, I know you have a draft of this novel in you that is Silicon Valley's next billion dollar social media company.