Charlie Songhurst – Lessons from Investing in 483 Companies

Jan 19, 2023 8:01 PM

My guest this week is Charlie Songhurst, the former head of strategy at Microsoft and a prolific investor, having personally invested in nearly 500 companies through his career. I met Charlie at an event hosted in New York and you can tell within one minute of meeting him that his mind is sparkling with ideas and curiosity. Its no wonder he’s been among the mostly commonly requested guests when I ask several top investors and CEOs who I should have on the show. We discuss the lessons he’s learned about business, investing, and people from such a large sample size of companies. I won’t reveal any more here, I highly recommend you just listen to Charlie and learn. Let’s dive in.

Show Notes

(1:25) – (First question) – Stack ranking the vices of power, money and fame

(2:41) – Memorable response to the stack ranking question

(3:13) – Best scenario to explore this stack ranking concept

(3:55) – Other ways to rank founders

(4:44) – Quick look at this career

(5:16) – Time at Microsoft

(6:03) – Features he looks for in startups

(10:55) – Managing the declining curve of productivity

(14:55) – Why founders are often unique people

(19;43) – How early entrepreneurs need to make recruitment a serious part of their work

(23:06) – How successful founders win the best candidates

(25:27) – The East Coast vs. West Coast investment strategies

(30:40) – When it’s time to bring in quantitative factors into early stage investing

(34:36) – The markers that pop up in companies that hit

(37:22) – Boring but successful investments

(39:28) – Investor aesthetics

(41:29) – Characteristics of investors that he believes are important to success

(42:57) – Impacts of Covid and some of the permanent changes that have happened as a result

(47:49) – Investing opportunities in the local community

(49:13) – His take on cryptocurrencies

(53:47) – Most mis valued asset in the world

(55:16) – Investing opportunities in Europe

(57:34) – Make up of his 483 investments

(59:17) – Curation as a skill

(1:01:54) – Timing and startup success

(1:05:11) – Kindest thing anyone has done for him