On Dec. 12, Bullpen Capital hosted a new kind of venture capital conference, inviting 100 GPs from the Bay Area to discuss some of the most pressing topics in VC today. The conference, dubbed No Fleece Allowed, aimed to get everyone out of the closed door, portfolio-pitching mindset and into a collaborative discussion about what works in VC and what doesn’t.
To allow for this free-flowing, unbridled chat, the conference was kept off the record–no press, no social media, and anonymized stories. Breaking the typical conference mold, the room was arranged in two concentric circles of chairs to keep everyone engaged in the discussion with no place to hide behind a laptop or step away for a call.
Without microphones and without a stage, speakers sat together in a circle to kick off each session before the floor was opened to continue the conversation. To encourage everyone to add to the dialogue and keep the conference fun, participants voted on the MVP (Most Valuable Participant) of the day. The winner had the honor of taking a picture next to the six-foot winners trophy.
No Fleece Allowed would not have be complete without hosting an ugly fleece competition. Participants were invited to bring their ugliest fleece to compete, and the winner went home with bragging rights and a prized trophy photo opportunity.
One of the many highlights of the day was the closing session with Bill Gurley of Benchmark. Following the format set by the previous sessions and speakers, he was an open-book and addressed crowd-sourced topics in what turned into a dynamic Q&A with eager attendees.
As the day wrapped up, the discussion moved into a networking and cocktail hour where attendees took in Commonwealth Club’s picturesque views of the Bay Bridge and SF Ferry Building.