Content and connections

Startup L. Jackson was an anonymous Twitter account that shared his observations on Silicon Valley, startups, and venture capital. He stopped tweeting on the 1st of January of this year.

During the time that he tweeted, many people took the insights of his tweets as a signal that he was a leading entrepreneur or VC. The latter was more likely because VC’s tend to be more active on Twitter than entrepreneurs (we have more time and marketing is a greater part of our job) and Startup L. Jackson was very active. His insightful observations helped him reach 80 thousand Twitter followers.

Last week, we discovered that Parker Thompson is the human behind the Startup L. Jackson account. Parker is currently a partner at AngelList and was formerly a partner at 500 Startups and Director of Business Development at Pivotal Labs during the time when the Startup L. Jackson account was active. So Parker has indeed been an investor in his latest two roles, and was a startup employee before that. However, he wasn’t one of the leading VC’s or entrepreneurs in the Valley that most people expected. His Twitter account has about 8 thousand followers and, while a high number, it trails the number of followers held by the Twitter accounts of leading VC’s and entrepreneurs. Before we discovered that he is the man behind the Startup L. Jackson account, he had about 3,500 followers.

There are two explanations for the large difference in the follower numbers of Parker’s personal account and his anonymous account. The first is that the content posted by Startup L. Jackson and that posted by Parker Thompson are different. This is indeed the case. The anonymity offered by Startup L. Jackson’s account let it tweet much more directly about politically incorrect observations. Saying things like they are attracts followers.

However, I think that there’s also a second reason why the Startup L. Jackson account attracted more followers than Parker’s personal account. Most people evaluate others not based on the content of what they say, but based on the importance that other people with a high social status place on them. Startup L. Jackson was followed by and regularly had Twitter conversations with many of the leading VC’s and entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, and many people followed him simply because they also wanted to be associated with someone that has these connections. Parker didn’t have the same social status, so he had less followers.