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Twice a week around 5:50 a.m., Jeff Jordan, a partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, shoots out an email to a roster of more than 50 men, including former college-level and professional athletes, tech millionaires and business executives from around the Valley, inviting them to shoot some hoops, exchange business tips and network. The first 15 to sign up meet at Stanford University’s practice gym for tip-off at 6:45 a.m sharp, according to The Ringer. The environment is friendly, and of course, slightly competitive.
These pickup games aren’t new to the Valley. Jordan’s been hosting them for 15 years since Tom McConnell, a managing director at Vanguard Ventures, passed along the task to him. As a backer of many major companies such as eBay, PayPal and OpenTable, Jordan taps into his extensive network to get people out on the courts. And the games help others build their networks, swap investment tips and share workplace frustrations in an intimate environment.
Related: 7 Ways to Better Networking
“In this setting, everyone is on equal ground,” Jesse Wood, a former Brown basketball player who is now the SVP of real estate firm T3 Advisors, told The Ringer. “You can talk to people like you would talk to teammates or competitors. Jeff turned [from] a guy that I met who ran a ball game to a mentor of mine who I bounce career paths and investment opportunities off of.”
Although the idea of networking at a basketball game won’t help to diffuse Silicon Valley’s reputation as a boys’ club, we all know that in the business world, one contact or conversation could lead to funding or a new business idea. These games are a reminder to go wherever your next potential investor, mentor or peer may be.