Emoji-driven movements & creating momentum in fundraising

Throughout Thursday and Friday, the emojis 👁👄👁 and the phrase “it is what it is” flooded the news feeds of tech Twitter. A new Twitter account @itiseyemoutheye linked to 👁👄👁.fm, which at the time only featured a sign-up that said: “give us your info”. I assumed it was another exclusive, private invite-only social media app, like Clubhouse’s launch several weeks prior, but I had no idea. Neither did Forbes. Neither did The Independent.

It wasn’t an app though. At 7 pm PST on Friday the website launched, with calls to action of donating to several non-profits, as well as a statement with the following quote:

In a strange way, this sort of became an anti-statement against what we’d all seen on tech Twitter. We’re a diverse, ragtag group of young technologists tired of the status quo tech industry, and thought that we could make the industry think a bit more about its actions. Despite calls-to-action like that “It’s Time to Build” essay we’ve all read, most of the industry (from product teams to VC) still stays obsessed with exclusive social apps that regularly ignore — or even silence — real needs faced by marginalized people all over the world, and exclude these folks from the building process. As an industry, we need to do better.

Since Thursday, the creators of 👁👄👁 .fm have helped raise over $200,000 for causes like Loveland Foundation, The Innocence Project, and The Okra Project. They dominated the attention of many—venture investors included.

The creators of 👁👄👁 .fm proved they could generate momentum more effectively than those same venture investors and other GPs do when raising capital from LPs. To paraphrase a friend, every investment requires two champions on either side, and it’s a lot easier when the party fundraising can either remove friction or generate momentum from a standing start. Granted, GPs don’t have an LP-only forum that allows them to broadcast their thesis and then raise their funds in days (e.g. “here’s why the future of work is on the blockchain and oh by the way sign up for my fund”). But, they can still do better building interest in how they’re investing, while finding the true believers who make their fund more of a movement rather than just another fund.

I don’t believe there’s a one-size-fits-all playbook to fundraising, but that instead, every pitch requires an approach specifically customized to each potential investor. However, there are similarities among the opportunities where we rapidly gained conviction and became true believers. The people raising already had the credibility to carry out their thesis—we wouldn’t be meeting otherwise. From the very first meeting, they demonstrate this intensity and sense of conviction in how they invest. And lastly, they allowed us to feel like the decision to invest was optional. They allowed us to feel like if we invested it would be a collaboration (to a degree), as if we would be a part of a movement together.

What the creators of 👁👄👁 .fm accomplished doesn’t translate perfectly to fundraising in cottage industries like institutional investing. And in their words:

a lot if you are really overthinking this there was no elaborate planning and marketing strategy we were literally just vibing

So yes, I know I’m over-thinking it. It still takes a special type of natural intensity to do what they did in so little time though. It’s also true that many GPs have successfully fundraised with elaborately-planned, less natural strategies. But, it is what it is.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend. Here’s what I’m listening to.