Campus - 23.03.2023 - 19:00 

Jerry Murdock at START Summit 2023: "The best companies emerge in difficult times"

US venture capitalist Jerry Murdock from Insight Partners spoke about entrepreneurship, good products and technology trends.

Jerry Murdock, the venture capital veteran is considered a legend in the start-up scene and rarely gives interviews. On this day, and for START Summit, he took a short break from the slopes to digitally  address the audience. Preferring to spend his time in the mountains of Aspen, Murdoch finds that the rugged mountain landscape puts his thoughts in the vertical and invigorates his entrepreneurial spirit. Wearing ski goggles and a winter jacket, the suntanned investor took questions from START Global President Max Keller. Title of the talk: "It's Time to Be Real - How Europe is Challenging Big Tech".

Unsteady times foster inventive spirit

Jerry Murdock is co-founder & managing director of the American venture capital firm Insight Partners in New York City. From 1988 to 1995, he was founder and director of Aspen Technology Group. And he also serves on the boards of Santa Fe and the Aspen Institute. With investments in Snapchat, Twitter and most recently BeReal, his firm continues to show a knack for successful technologies. Recognising such start-ups and investing early in ideas surrounding future technology is central to venture capitalists, Murdock said. He is currently following three trends with particular interest: AI such as ChatGPT, automation and everything that is emerging through digital disruption, Murdock explained at the beginning of his talk on the main stage. "Right now, it's not exactly easy to start businesses in the US or Europe: inflation, financial market turmoil, lack of trust in monetary institutions…" But it is precisely in unstable times when the most ingenious new business ideas emerge, he expressed. Provided that the financial system remains stable and can regain the lost trust. He encouraged founders in Europe to develop resilience and not to let themselves be dissuaded from their projects despite crises. "Especially in turbulent times, many opportunities open up for entrepreneurs".

Solving other people's problems with good products

When asked what distinguishes resilient companies from those that do not survive, Murdock said: "I have always been convinced by pitches from start-up founders who wanted to solve other people's problems with a product idea. This perspective is important in order to achieve lasting success as a founder," Murdock emphasised. It is not so much about what founders themselves think is cool, but how they can serve others in life with their company. That's why, for example, he was fascinated early on by various social media applications. They gave people a digital meeting place and teenagers the privacy they longed for in a stressful phase of life. This only works well if you use the technology in a way that serves the customer - and not the other way around.

Basis for good business: Creative intuition and a realistic view of life

Above all, founders should pay attention to the quality of the product they want to launch. "The product is what makes it possible to scale your business. The product is number one," Murdock stated. Only a good product, he said, helps a company survive unstable times. With a view to the mountains of Aspen, Jerry Murdock and Max Keller talked about another secret of success for start-ups: "Climbing in the mountains is a great metaphor for building a company: Great companies are built by people who have a clear head, look ahead and make good decisions even in risky moments. You have to cultivate your intuition and have a realistic view of life. I am very optimistic when I look at the new generation of entrepreneurs. They are changing their perspective and no longer think only urban-horizontally, but vertically." This change in perspective will change the entrepreneurial world in a good way.

About Insight Partners

Insight Partners invests in growth-stage technology, software and internet companies. Through his investment in Twitter in 2009, Jerry Murdock first appeared on the Midas list, a ranking by Forbes magazine of the most influential and powerful venture capitalists. Murdock co-founded the New York-based investment firm Insight Venture Partners with Jeff Horing in 1995 and ran the firm until April 2011. He was also involved in setting the firm's investment strategy and helped develop many portfolio investments. These included, for example, Flipboard, Adcol-ony, Path, Klout, Docker,, Hortonworks, Nest (acquired by Google in 2013 for $3.2 billion) and Truecaller.

Discover our special topics