40 years old today

By January 16, 2013 11 Comments

It’s my 40th birthday today, and I have to say it’s a milestone I’m meeting with mixed emotions. For the last few days I’ve had a nagging sense of disquiet, almost passing to anxiety at times. There was no trigger event or focus that I could pin down, and my best guess is that at a subconscious level I’m finally growing up and starting to grapple with my mortality. During my childhood and 20s I felt bulletproof and indestructible, and that the whole world was open to me, and whilst that feeling tempered in my 30s I never really lost it. Now, as I turn 40, there is a clear message coming from my body that I can’t stay young forever, that all the exercise, supplements, and healthy food in the world are unlikely to change that, and that despite the amazing predictions of Ray Kurzweil and others, science probably won’t save me.

However, I’m an eternal optimist and even as I write these words I don’t really believe them, not in my heart, and not enough to give up the dream. My rational side comes to the same conclusion too. Staying healthy will lead to longer and fuller life whatever happens so it makes sense to keep looking after my mind and body. You can see the internal struggle I’m wrestling with.

That said, for all that my self obsessed introspection has had me in the dumps for the last week or so when I lift my head up I know that life is fun and I’m an incredibly lucky person. I could have been six inches taller, but apart from that life has dealt me a very good hand. I woke up this morning to a warm and loving rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ from my two kids Eira (age 8) and Stanley (age 6) and wife Fiona who is beautiful inside and out. Eira had even written me a song which she performed solo, stood at the end of the bed. I don’t write much about them here, but I love them all.

Work has also been kind to me. We’ve had an amazing run at DFJ Esprit from spinning out of Caz with our backs to the wall to over $1bn in assets under management in six and a half years, and as an individual I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with some great successes at and Zeus Technology. On a more personal note I’ve enjoyed working with some really talented entrepreneurs and managers, not least at my most recent crop of investments which I hope will lift us all to new heights of success. That’s the challenge guys 🙂

Perhaps more importantly, I feel the work we are all doing has an importance beyond the people and investors who are immediately involved in our companies. A thriving startup ecosystem can, and should, be a big contributor to the overall economy, particularly to growth and high value job creation. We are no longer birthing the startup ecosystem here, but we are maybe guiding it through adolescence, and we have a key role to play in determining what sort of adult it becomes. If the last ten years was about establishing myself as an investor I hope the next ten years is about establishing London and Europe as sustainable startup hubs that compete effectively on a global basis.

That’s enough seriousness for a decade of birthdays so I’ll sign of now. I have a busy schedule of meetings ahead after which I will have some of that fun I talked about celebrating my birthday with a few drinks and I hope a decent home victory for Chelsea Football Club!