Surfing the reverse mullet with Alexis Ohanian
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Surfing the reverse mullet with Alexis Ohanian

For many years the allure of Silicon Valley was contingent on the ability to move here. Its ecosystem didn’t work remotely. “We see a very strong indication that where you’re located does matter… come to Silicon Valley,” intoned Joe Kraus of Google Ventures at the first Disrupt conference I ever intended, speaking for essentially all VCs, including Y Combinator.
Easy enough if you’re American. Much, much trickier if you need a visa to get there. Is it still true that the Valley doesn’t work remotely? Or is there another path for startups from faraway countries these days? Last week I sat down with Alexis Ohanian in his ancestral homeland of Armenia to discuss this.
Every nation seems to have its own set of incubators and seed investors these days. Armenia is no exception: I met Ohanian at the launch event for Aybuben Ventures, a VC fund “for Armenia and The Armenians.” (As I wrote last week, the Armenian diaspora is a big deal.) But what happens next, when you need to raise a serious Series A, but your local market realistically isn’t big enough to support your company?
Even five years ago you would have had a lot of trouble tapping into the Valley. Since then, though, things have changed. The price of Bay Area talent — and real estate — has led to the rise of “mullet startups,” as coined by Andreessen Horowitz’s
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