Fishbowl - Matthew Glass
First published in Great Britain in 2015 by Atlantic Books, an imprint of Atlantic Books Ltd.
Matthew Glass, 2015
The moral right of Matthew Glass to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the , Designs and Patents Act of 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of both the owner and the above publisher of this book.
This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination and not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities, is entirely coincidental.
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A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Trade Paperback 978 1 78239 261 3
E-book 978 178239 262 0
Printed in Great Britain
An Imprint of Atlantic Books Ltd
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Note on the Author
THE PITCH TOOK less than twenty minutes. Robert Leib listened without interrupting, dividing his glances between the slides in front of him and the two young men sitting on the other side of the table.
When it was finished, he leafed silently back through the presentation. They were in Leib’s conference room in a sprawling, stone-clad office building on Sand Hill Road, the strip outside Palo Alto favoured by the venture capital firms that had provided the funds to blow open the age of the internet. Just 200 yards in one direction was the office of Sequoia Capital, 300 yards in the other direction was Andreeson Horowitz, both of them early backers of some of the biggest names on the net. Leib Roberts Berkowitz, or LRB, as it was known, had made a string of successful tech investments that had brought Robert Leib and his two founding partners immense wealth.
Leib was a short, tubby man in his fifties with receding hair and a trim, greying beard. He wore a blue polo shirt and a pair of khaki chinos.
He stopped on one of the slides.
‘This user growth,’ he said to the man who had done the talking during the pitch. ‘Chris, this is all verifiable, right?’
‘No. We just made those numbers up.’
Leib smiled for a second. Chris Hamer was thirty-one, a tall Californian with blond hair and a mischievous glint in his eye. Leib had invested in one of Hamer’s previous ventures and made a moderate amount of money. But this venture wasn’t Hamer’s, and the stakes, Leib knew, wouldn’t be moderate.
He was much more interested in the other person sitting at the table, Andrei Koss, a pale young man with curly dark hair who had sat through Chris’s pitch with an air of indifference or impatience or something, anyway, which Leib wasn’t accustomed to seeing in the founder of a start-up when his company was being pitched for hundreds of millions of dollars. Like every other investor in the valley, Leib had been interested in meeting Andrei Koss for quite some time. Just back from his annual salmon fishing trip to Scotland, the venture capitalist hadn’t hesitated for a second when he got a call from Chris Hamer asking if he could bring Koss to talk to him.
Leib closed the slide deck. ‘You know, the general assumption is that you guys would never look for venture capital. You’ve got the revenues to fund your own growth. So this is interesting, but, frankly … you don’t need me.’
‘We’re here,’ said Chris.
‘Yeah, but you don’t need me. When someone comes to me for money they don’t really need, I get offered terms I don’t really like. So I’m thinking to myself – what are these guys doing?’ Leib smiled again. ‘Why would they invite the vultures through the door?’
Chris grinned. ‘There’s a bunch of development we need to do and we think for a year or two we’re going to need additional funding to get through that.’
‘What kind of development?’
‘What kind of stuff?’
‘Work on the platform. Work on the site. The usual stuff, Bob. It’s not