A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit down & chat with Alastair Goldfisher, Venture Capital Editor for PE Hub Network which publishes PE Hub and Venture Capital Journal.
Alastair started his career 30 years ago as a journalist covering city hall for a neighborhood paper in Southern California. In 1994 he landed a position as a reporter and editor for the San Jose Business Journal covering venture capital, e-commerce, finance and more. Now he focuses specifically on the VC space for PE Hub Network along with putting on conferences for PartnerConnect, and producing a monthly magazine for Venture Capital Journal.
Read more about Alastair, his family, and his desk-with-a-view.
1. This isn’t your typical office setting even for a tech journalist. Can you tell a little about your office space?
I apologize for correcting you right off the bat. But I’m not a tech journalist and it’s not my office per se. I consider myself a business journalist. Currently, I write about venture firms and their investments and fundraising and trends and it just so happens that tech receives a lot of VC funding.
This is my converted garage at home where I sometimes work and also do domestic chores, like pay bills and laundry. Our company has a local office in Oakland and I work there sometimes. You can also find me remotely at shared work spaces and coffee shops, too, around the Bay Area.
You’re correct. It is not typical. But neither am I. If I need to make calls, do some online research and pound out stories or edit copy in quiet, this is good spot to be, especially in the summer when I can roll open the garage door.
2. You have quite a few post-its on your desk. What's so important about using these over a to-do list?
I know. I suppose you could call it an obsessive-compulsive habit. The Post-Its are not color-coded, and they’re not strategically placed. But yes I write notes and tasks and phone numbers on the little colored squares, and I usually have a lot more on my desk than what you see in the photo.
Not sure why I don’t just transition to a productivity app or a professional looking to-do notepad. This works for me, so I’ve stayed with it.
I also keep a lot of the sticky notes in my notebooks.
3. We also see quite a few notebooks on each side of your desk. Some big, some small. Is there a reason you have more than one?
Speaking of which, yes, I always carry a notebook or a sketchpad and have them in various sizes. What you can’t see in this picture is the bookshelf behind where I sit that has journals and notebooks that I’ve kept over the years. Like the Post-Its, I’m old school when it comes to note taking and I have my own shorthand and scribble writing that only I can make sense of. You could open one of these notebooks on my desk, but probably can’t read much of what I wrote.
4. We love a good book, and hearing about new books to read. Can you tell us about your two most favorite (or important) that you have on your desk currently?
I have some writing and style books on my desk. Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style,” the AP style guidebook and a dictionary I haven’t opened in 10 years thanks to Microsoft Word and Siri. So I guess I’m not entirely old-school vintage.
The books on my desk include three short collections of poetry by Steve Hermanos written as odes to the three recent World Series championships won by the San Francisco Giants in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
I also have books that I want to read on my desk. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” which I’m holding onto for the summer.
5. There’s nothing like an office with a view, a pool table and fun toys. Do you have specific hobbies you enjoy when you’re not hard working on a story at PE Hub?
The story behind the pool table is that it belonged to my in-laws. My wife grew up with it on her back porch. Before we sold my wife’s family home last year, the pool table was bequeathed to me. I had the felt replaced and hired movers to relocate to the only space available in our home, the garage. The pool table itself has to be more than 40 years old, but it’s solidly built. It’s fun to play against my young son. Neither of us are sharks. So I’m happy to rack them up against anyone who wants to challenge me.
Other than that, I have typical garage items all over, like storage boxes and my bike. You can also see the basketball hoop stand in my driveway. So yeah, OK, I admit it, this is a good office setting if ever I need a five or 10-minute distraction from work.
When I’m not working, I like to exercise. I’m vegan, so food and health and well-being are important to me.
6. We spot a great photo of your kids next to your laptop. Can you tell us a little about your family life?
Wow, how’d you spot that tiny thing? It’s a wallet photo from about 15 years ago when my boys were little. I have more framed pics of my family and other stuff, but the cat likes to hop up on the desk and knock things over.
As for family, I’m married and we have two sons, ages 21 and 16. The older one is a junior in college and lives on the SFSU campus. The younger one is finishing up his sophomore year in high school.
The boys and our dog and cat fill a lot of our family time together.
7. The computer you’re using looks rather different than the ones we’re typically used to seeing on a journalists’ desk. Why do you prefer this setup over the more popular ones?
I hate that computer. It’s a Lenovo laptop and it lugs like a ton of bricks when it’s in my backpack. It’s issued by work, and I need a PC like this to access one particular data program. In my Oakland office, I have a larger monitor I can connect to. But even that is too much. Frankly, all I need is a small laptop with Internet access and Word to do my job. I’m on my phone a lot, too.
8. Is there anything else on your desk that you want to share with us?
My desk is a mess. I see some Legos, mixed with broken watches, assorted tools, matchbooks from restaurants coupled with various playing cards and Pokemon cards and sports trading cards that I found on the ground while walking or running around the neighborhood. I took this photo with my camera and you see a telephoto lens and a terabyte storage drive on the right.
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