What is it like to be on the cover of the New York Observer? :)

VentureVillage did a quick and fun interview following last week’s fun profile of me in the New York Observer:

VV. Any strange feedback to The Observer article?

Grinda. I thought people would ask for my autograph, girls would proposition me in the streets, and extraordinary entrepreneurs would line up for me to invest in their companies. Unfortunately, it was pretty much life as usual. Reading the article did make me extremely grateful to my friends. They said such nice things, I was yet again reminded how lucky I am to have them as friends!

VV. “I like him a lot…Very smart guy,” Gilt CEO Kevin Ryan wrote about you in an email to the Observer journalist, ostensibly “without a trace of annoyance, despite the fact that [you] invested in ripoffs of two of his companies. What did you think of that?

Grinda. I think he realizes that the real value lies in execution rather than the idea. As Edison once said: “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”. Besides Gilt is itself a copy of the French company Vente Privee. Our entire society is essentially built by resting on the shoulders of the improvements that came before. Even Apple which is seen as a paragon of innovation copies and improves the ideas of others. Steve Jobs often quoted Picasso who said that: “Smart people plagiarize, but geniuses plunder and steal”. Picasso himself was copying Matisse regularly and vice versa. Besides the quote is not particularly original given that Oscar Wilde essentially said the same thing.

VV. The Observer article includes a thorough rundown of your many clones, including not only Aucland but a Booking.com for Russia, a Diapers.com for Germany, a Jetsetter for Turkey, a Stubhub and Eventbrite for Spain and Latin America, a Warby Parker for France, and a Shoedazzle, an Expedia, a Gilt and a PayPal for Brazil. It also suggests you’ve cloned the extroversion of others. Is this true?

Grinda. I have personally observed how our personalities are plastic and can be molded. I essentially forced myself to go from being an introvert to an extrovert. I’ve written the full back story of the transformation on my blog, which could prove useful to anyone trying to do the same.

VV. Your first company, Aucland, was an eBay for France. You’re French. What did you know about French people ahead of time that you took into account when building the company?

Grinda. I was born in Paris and grew up in Nice. I realized that French people had the same need to sell things they no longer used and buy used goods or collectibles as Americans. The details varied relative to the United States: French people traded wine and collectible Asterix comics rather than pez dispensers, but the underlying principle remained the same.

VV. Your former McKinsey colleague and current member of the Isreali Knesset Einat Wilf said of you: “He wants to run the world…He has the notion that he could be an enlightened ruler.” Who is the world’s most enlightened ruler, currently, according to your analytical mind?

Grinda. It’s a difficult question to answer given the political constraints most rulers operate under. Right now, Mario Monti, the current prime minister of Italy, gets my vote. He has had the courage to tell the truth to the electorate about how dire the situation really is, to implement difficult reforms and to face down populist opposition.

You can read the full article at:

Great Article on Steve Jobs’ “Wilderness Years”

The May issue of Fast Company has a great article on Steve Jobs’ “wilderness years”. This 1985-1996 period during which he was exiled from Apple is often seen as his least productive. However, the writer forcefully and successfully argues that that these years played a pivotal role and made him a better CEO and person which set the stage for his triumphant return at Apple.

Read the article at: http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/165/steve-jobs-legacy-tapes

They did a fun profile of me in this week’s New York Observer

Adrienne Jeffries, the reporter, did a very thorough job. She interviewed many of the CEOs whose companies I backed and many of my close friends for a portrait that I find, in all objectivity of course, to be funny, endearing and accurate.

The article again highlighted how blessed I am to have such amazing friends! I am also glad that there is no talk of the “evil Grinda brothers” 🙂

Read the entire article at:

A Song of Ice and Fire is magnificently complex, thrilling and entertaining!

I have been hearing of George R.R. Martin for many years, but never checked out his books because he was always described to me as “the American J.R.R. Tolkien”, and I am not a fan of fantasy. From my perspective, The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are too slow with uncompelling lead characters and fantasy elements that overwhelmed the story.

When I saw the ads for the HBO Series Game of Thrones, I expected more of the same and did not check the TV show out for the greater part of the year. The overwhelming critical acclaim ultimately swayed me and I decided to give Game of Thrones a shot. After the opening 15 minutes, I was worried that my fears would be proven right, but very rapidly the story shifted to complex intrigue between the characters and I came to appreciate its genius. Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire in general are a very rich and entertaining character driven story with fantasy elements. The fantasy elements accompany and support the story rather than distract from it.

In many ways, the TV show reminds me of the political intrigue in the HBO series Rome which I also adored. Game of Thrones was by far my favorite new TV show of 2011 and I felt compelled to read the entire A Book of Ice and Fire series. It took me a few weeks given that there are 5 books of 1,500 pages each (with 2 more books pending). The first three books are absolutely amazing. All of the characters were compelling. I loved understanding their motivations and how their personal destinies were affected by the greater forces sweeping through the realm. After the initial shock, I also came to appreciate how George Martin is willing to kill off lead characters. Unfortunately books 4 and 5 are slow, long, and frankly tedious. Worse too much of the books are written from the perspective of irrelevant or uninteresting characters. I really hope books 6 and 7 are much better when they come out!

In other words, read books 1-3, watch the TV show and if you must know what happens next read the summary on http://awoiaf.westeros.org/.