How do you get funded by Spark's Bijan Sabet?

Investor in Tumblr, OMGPOP, Twitter on spotting entrepreneurs before they're a big success

Investor interview by Bambi Francisco Roizen
September 5, 2012
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If there's one startup that's had a rollercoaster ride to a successful exit, it's OMGPOP, which was practically out of money before it was bought by Zynga for $200 million earlier this year. One investor who knows that startup story well is Bijan Sabet, a partner at Spark Capital, an early-stage VC firm, which invested in the company's first million. According to Sabet, OMGPOP had about 24 games that didn't pan out so well. But the team, which stuck together, never backed off and stayed committed. 

"The plane was heading for the rocks," said Sabet, referring to OMGPOP's situation before creating their hit game Draw Something, which attracted Zynge. "What kept us committed to the company was that we believed in the team."

As most early-stage investors will tell you, the team is one of the biggest factors that determine whether the startup gets an investment. It's particularly interestintg to hear from early-stage investors, like Sabet, who's had success picking winners before they became big success stories, such as OMGPOP, Twitter and Tumblr.  

What did you see in these companies and entrepreneurs that made you invest? I asked.

"In all three [OMGPOP, Twitter, Tumblr], I love the products," said Sabet. "I was really seduced by the products they were building. And, the passion spilled over [to the team]."  The founders Sabet refers to include Tumblr's David Karp, Twitter's Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams and Biz Stone, as well as OMGPOP's Charles Forman. "For these particular companies, they had a specific point of view of what they wanted to create."

Watch the interview to hear about what he looks for in an entrepreneur and what lesson he learned from OMGPOP. Check in soon to see the other three segments of this interview. 


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