In this post Dea Wilson, Lifograph founder, is doing an interview with Rick Thompson, VC at Signia Ventures. He was co-founder at Playdom, sold to Disney for $763M and Funzio, sold to Gree for $210M.
Rick co-founded and served as CEO and / Chairman of two successful Internet technology companies, Adify and FlyCast Communications.
Rick holds a BS in Psychology from UCSC and an MBA from the Wharton School. He enjoys football and playing poker.
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What was your first job?
I was a janitor in high school. My girlfriend dumped me when I was 16 years old, so I decided to get a job to forget about the breakup. Every evening I was driving 45 minutes each way to get the job done. It did not take me too long to figure out that the job did not pay enough to cover my gas.
My second job was also a janitor at a convalescent center. I learned a lot of soft skills there, especially communication and empathy.
Tell me a few things that people don’t know about you
I went to 6 undergraduate schools and have 7 majors, including philosophy, politics, and psychology. I guess I have always been afraid of being labeled or being stuck.
In college I worked as an intern for IBM. I would hitchhike to work from Santa Cruz, then go to school at night.
I used to play poker for cars. In 2 years I earned 13 pink slips, so every other month I was driving around Santa Cruz in a different car.
I played 4 years at the World’s Series of Poker (WSOP).
What was your life defining moment?
Meeting Peter Olson, founder of Octel (sold to Lucent for $2 billion in 1997). I’ve met him over a game of poker and he told me that poker players make good computer programmers. He gave me a homework assignment and in 2 weeks I was a programmer at Octel. That encounter changed my life forever.
What was your biggest mistake?
We sold Flycast to CMGI for $740M in 1999. When the dot com bust came in 2000-2001 we had an opportunity to buy it back for $1M but we did not. It was a good business. We could have revived Flycast and sell it all over again.
What inspired you to become a VC?
As a child I’ve always dreamt of becoming a missionary or professional gambler. A VC is a combination of both.