bad spoof videos

Let’s Talk About That 500 Startups Video

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By now you’ve probably seen that 500 Startups Accelerator has a new class of startups, its sixth. And it’s got a ton of international folks taking part and that is fucking awesome. You know what’s not so awesome? The video that accompanied its announcement.

This video, like those which came before it, was put together by the startups themselves. It’s a spoof on Macklemore’s Thrift Shop, which has been done before. And yes, it’s 2013 and startups continue to torture us with their horrible rapping, but whatever. My problem isn’t with concept behind the video, but with the content of the message included within.

Get over the jokey nature of the spoof and listen to the lyrics closely and you’re faced with an unintentionally cynical view of the startup ecosystem and today’s frothy early-stage investment climate.

At the heart of all of this is the chorus:

“I’m gonna raise some funds / Only got twenty dollars in my pocket / I – I – I’m raising, looking for millions / This is fucking awesome.”

Note, the goal here is not to build lasting companies. There’s some talk about creating products that are the future, that will be used by everyone and your grandma, but those lyrics are drowned out by incessant demands for more and more cash.

The most damning part of the spoof is the implication that the main goal of these startups is to raise seed funding and then a Series A, which will increase the paper value of the company for their investors. Or, worse, selling quick to a big player like Facebook, Google, or, god forbid, Yahoo.

Sure, VCs do care about returns, but I’m willing to bet that “All I care about is makin’ my investors green” is not a mantra on which lasting companies are built. Nor is “give me your money, I’ll double your money” or “follow us on Angel List, if you don’t you won’t make shit.”

There’s also the question of the role of the Accelerator itself. If Paul Graham is being criticized for saying YC’s Demo Day makes bad companies look good, what does one say about 500 Startups when it blatantly revels in the fact that the core mission of its startups seems to be cashing checks?

I’ve got respect for the 500 Startups crew and applaud the founders for putting a video together on a short deadline. But these lyrics make me wonder about the toxic startup culture that produces such a thing.

As one of my colleagues wrote on our internal message board: “500 Startups, and not a single person to say, ‘Hey guys, maybe this music video isn’t a good idea.’”

Here are the lyrics, a blatant glorification of wealth accrual to rival The Great Gatsby:

I’m gonna raise some funds
Only got twenty dollars in my pocket
I – I – I’m raising, looking for some millions
This is fucking awesome

[Verse 1:]
Nah, walk up to a meeting like, “What up? I got big traction”
My hockey stick’s higher than scoble’s amsterdam vacation
market size fit, users on their seat, punching cards in
cahingin-caching

Rollin in’, with my team, creating products that will be
the future but all i care is makin my inve stors green
Ima close my round now, Ima close my round now,
No for real I’m closing – ask your friends – can I get their checks now?

give me you money, ill double your money,
show me your market illl double your market,
your mommy your daddy , your cousin your aunty
everybody will be using my product

[2X]
I’m gonna raise some funds
Only got twenty dollars in my pocket
I – I – I’m raising, looking for some millions
This is fucking awesome

[BRIDGE]
Hey Tech Crunch write us up
So we can blow this up
Don’t dare to get us wrong
We are 500 strong

Hey seed funds check us out
Do it quick, or you’ll all miss out
follow us on Angel List
If you don’t you won’t make shit

[2X]
I’m gonna raise some funds
Only got twenty dollars in my pocket
I – I – I’m raising, looking for some millions
This is fucking awesome