Before David Pakman joined Venrock’s New York office in 2008, he spent 12 years as an Internet entrepreneur heading up eMusic and Apple Music Group. Having been a founder himself, David became a venture capitalist to partner with entrepreneurs and help them achieve their dreams of world domination.
We asked David a couple of questions to get to know him better.
Q: Music has always been a big part of your life. When are you going on tour? Ok, seriously though. What role does music play in your life today?
Music has been the pulse of my life. It has been ever-present since I was a kid. I listen every day, think about song structure, and dream of being an actual songwriter. I bang on my drums to get rid of life’s tensions and I DJ from time to time to see if I can make people dance and feel the intensity I feel. Lately, I am starting to see some of this present in my kids, and it is fascinating to see music affecting them in somewhat similar ways. For me, music expresses the complexities of emotions in ways words cannot.
Q: What led you to venture capital?
From my earliest days of working in the Valley, many of my mentors followed the path of big company -> startups -> VC. That path became somewhat burned into my career trajectory, so I followed it. I am glad I did, because I love it. I love working with entrepreneurs more talented than I was, and helping them avoid the many pitfalls I saw up close. I also like helping them get as close as possible to their dreams of grand success.
Q: You see hundreds of business plans and pitches every year. What makes an entrepreneur or idea stand out?
Supreme ambition. One cannot be successful without it. Everything big starts with big ambition, and it’s exciting to find founders who are dreaming big.
Q: What industries are ripe for disruption?
Every industry is vulnerable at this point in the tech cycle, but in particular, industries who don’t have direct relationships with their customers and in for a doozy. They lack the data and customer knowledge to feed into machine learning systems which produce insights and product features not possible before.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
The fear of never finding another great deal.
Q: In other interviews, you’ve talked about using Twitter as a way to join in conversations with tech leaders. Aside from you, whom should we be following?
Ahh there are so many great folks on Twitter! Let’s see… I think Maya Kosoff (@mekosoff) at VanityFair is brilliantly sarcastic and also in touch with millennial consumer activity. I follow Matt Blaze (@mattblaze) from Penn to learn the truth about InfoSec, Jean-Louis Gassée (@gassee) my old colleague from Apple to help me understand the big tech companies’ moves, @YouNow to learn who the best new livestreamers to are, and @savedyouaclick and @mikeisaac because they crack me up.