The Memos.

Like the knight’s sword, the firefighter’s hose, and the lumberjack’s ax, venture capitalists courageously wield the memo.

For VCs, learning from mistakes is easy. In fact, we make so many that we’re experts on what not to do. What’s hard is to learn from success. How did we spot those baby unicorns in the wild? Did we just get lucky? Because we really want to find more of them.

To glean patterns from those particularly beneficial early-stage decisions (and sometimes just to nourish our fragile egos), we find it helpful to publish and scrutinize the Investment Recommendation Memoranda that we circulated years ago. One pattern that consistently emerges is that Bessemer’s best investment decisions centered on people. In retrospect, the early products themselves are barely recognizable today. Rather, passionate, analytical and relentless founders zigged and zagged their way to that elusive “product-market fit”, and these memos provide a glimpse of those winning entrepreneurs before they were famous. They are the prequels of our heroes, as inspirational to us as The Hobbit, Solo, Batman Begins, and Better Call Saul.

Because, really, who doesn’t love a good memo?