Relentless Optimism

Edward Lando
3 min readNov 30, 2023

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I caught up with my friend Greg yesterday in Los Angeles. Greg is from France and happens to be the first person I ever invested in…

The first of now 800+ teams.

He reminded me of this yesterday, and he vividly remembers the way we met.

I was writing some pieces for the Huffington Post at the time, and had used this as an excuse to reach out to a French startup that I’d read about, which allowed people to make music video clips of their life, and had gone viral.

I had immediately fallen in love with the product. It was beautiful and pure in the way that rare consumer gems are.

I wasn’t investing back then because I was still in college, but I just wanted to meet them. We apparently first had an hour-long phone call, and then we met up when I was back in Paris for the holidays.

Greg struck me as an artist, a real one. And he had in fact studied the “beaux arts” in Paris. No better background to paint on software canvasses.

He had and still has a very genuine confidence that he will build the next great consumer social company.

Some people want to put on a show of self-assuredness.

For Greg it has always just peacefully been a part of him.

The consumer game that he and his co-founder Clem play is very hard. It might be the most cruel of all games, because we know how binary consumer outcomes are. How many Facebook’s are there vs how many have died along the way, even after getting to pretty significant scale?

Despite this, Greg and Clem have been building together for more than 10 years, through many highs and lows, and always in consumer social.

The product I mentioned above was cloned by Musical.ly, which grew faster than them, and then was bought and became the TikTok we know today. Imagine how it must feel to have built the first version of TikTok, taken it to significant scale, and eventually have been outpaced by someone else?

Greg and Clem ended up starting another company, and this time I took the whole pre-seed round instead of just being a smaller angel.

Inside of this company they launched several experiments, one of which again went viral and got to tens of millions of users — a product centered around anonymity. It eventually failed as well.

And now they are still working on the same official company but are onto another product… still… you won’t be surprised… in consumer social.

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Last night I asked Greg how he manages to stay optimistic after all of these years of almost getting there, but not quite yet, and then going all the way back to zero.

“Parce que j’y crois.” (“Because I believe.”)

“When you have the impression that God has chosen you, you cannot do anything else.”

Some people might call it delusion. Others a distortion field.

There is a strangely prophetic energy about Greg.

I have only felt this about a few people in my life.

Some have now built large companies and a few of them — like Greg — still do not yet have a big success under their belt.

But he will.

I’d be willing to make a bet with you.

Greg and I have often talked about people who give up along the way. It’s a long road and there are many respectable exit paths: he could have become a VC (imagine the horror), could have built a “safer,” less binary SaaS company, or could also have just joined a large company or another startup.

But Greg has never and will never want anything else than to build in consumer social with his team. He has told me many times over the last ten years that other people just give up too early and that’s why they fail.

He likes to joke and say that he wants this investment to return more for me than all of my other investments combined.

“Why?” I asked him smiling.

At this point I just really want him to win.

“For the story. It’s the story that counts. It was your first investment, and it has to be your biggest.”

Whether or not this company ends up working, what I do know is that I will keep backing Greg and Clem until they either give up (which they won’t), die, or build the massive consumer company they deserve to build.

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