Being a founder, not to mention a CEO, can be a very lonely place, carrying loads of stress and required to constantly be at peak performance. This often makes it hard to find a balance between one's professional and personal life. Maintaining strong relationships with the co-founders and investors is also not an easy task, where clarity and empathy are not always present. As one of my entrepreneurs says: “It’s not the technological challenge we deal with, it’s the mental one.”
“Throughout my +15 years as a professional, I've always been attracted to the intersection of business and psychology through entrepreneurship - What makes people tick? How do people think and act? And what motivates people in business? What drives me is being there for the amazing entrepreneurs, who are under constant pressure, so that they can make our world a better place. That’s what I’m here for, and this is my podcast – The Human Founder.”
Ep. #48 - With Amir Shevat, Head of Product - Developer Platform at Twitter, Investor
Amir was first asked to join Google back in 1999 but was told he would have to pay for his flight to Silicon Valley, so he refused. Years later - he was one of the first Israeli 'Googlers', in charge of developer relations, building chrome, and android. He joined Yossi Matias and launched Google's first branch in Israel. From Google, he moved to Slack. At the time, Slack was still in a very early stage and, but Amir loved it. He said it felt great being a part of something big, especially since all startup companies were going to be using their product.
As he is so passionate about what he does, Amir worked a lot. Working was the criteria for success; for identifying yourself. Similar to how the people of San Francisco’s high-tech ecosystem describe themselves - everyone measures themselves according to what their startup is.
He used to commute 2.5 hours to work daily. Though he was super fulfilled from his work and regarded as very successful, the time in the car allowed him to really stop and think. He asked himself “What do I want to be?”. The answer was simple: “happy, thoughtful, centred”. He wanted to create an impact.
After years in Silicon Valley, he moved to Austin, which had a great atmosphere and community; he made sure to keep up his daily exercise routine, be mindful about what he eats, have dinner with his family and do what he could to alleviate any of the pressure he had his life.
From a tech superstar to an angel investor
Last year, Amir met with 500 startups, made 13 investments, and joined Innovation Endeavors. 99% of the deal flow from the amazing companies he met with were through referrals from other VCs/angels, but he also made 1 investment that began with a ‘cold reach’. He likes to think that he is "paying it forward" by not only lending these startups money but by also giving them invaluable knowledge and a stellar network from his own lived experiences. “As an angel investor, you try not to do your due diligence - but rather rely on the big VCs that do it for you. You try to find the right deals and get the conviction from the founder. While the VC does the whole process and decides about the size of the check, as an angel investor - you don’t negotiate.”
Amir is very mindful of his time. The daytime is dedicated to his work at Twitter, while the evening is for his investments.
Amir doesn't believe in having a “zero inbox” (when you have no unread emails to address) or in using tools that don’t serve us. “You want your calendar to be filled with meetings you want to have, not with meetings that others want.”
When I asked him about the choice of becoming an angel investor, he emphasized that when making such a change, one needs to have a strategy. In the beginning, his investments were random, but nowadays he invests in Dev tools & SaaS. When he talks with the founders - he asks them: “what will be a good outcome of this meeting?”
So far, he has never withdrawn money for an investment and tries to do pro-rata and increase his investments. Amir says “we are all works in progress, and in 5 years from now he wants to be a Venture Capitalist. I would definitely want him to be an investor for me and would happily have him by my side.