Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Cthulhu Ventures (cthulhuventures.com)
103 points by apsec112 9 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 71 comments

(I'm assuming that this is not satire - it looks a bit too real)

I really love it when people carry jokes into serious business and take it all the way to the end. There's a lot of guts in that. I envy that level of self-confidence and hope to one day get there myself.

That said, somehow I love it even more when such jokes get featured on HN and, invariably, shares of dry humorless grumpy people complain that they can't possibly take people who make jokes seriously. I always wonder what brings someone to distrust ballsy humor, I can't really wrap my head around it.

Personally, if someone has the guts to not only make a silly joke with friends over a beer, but actually turn it into a real thing (in this case, a venture fund), then that's the kind of person I want to do business with. That sort of guts shows elsewhere too (Elon Musk is a nice example).

As another example, the popular Flask web framework for Python (which I'm using at this very moment) started as an April Fool's joke.



I had no idea! Thanks for sharing.

Having spent so much time with flask, it's a joke that I took seriously enough :)

I think a lot of people value that HN isn’t the kind of place where you get puns and flippant comments and posts.

I turn to Reddit for that. Here on HN humour is generally very lacking and even frowned upon. Things lighten up a bit when people like idlewords[1] show up, but that's pretty much the exception. For a recent example, just read through the comments in here[2] (a Show HN that reached the homepage yesterday). This is a regrettable state of affairs.

1: https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=idlewords

2: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21627714

Edit: forgot that HN also lacks Markdown besides humour

Yes we need to manage out those sort - they would better suited an actuaries Job (accountancy would be to racy for them).

Smart also because if no one else has done it this way, it may attract extra attention. And they can always fall back on traditional marketing to attract boring people if need be.

> We also strive, in our weak moments, to generate some sort of meaningful “good” for humanity (whom we would like to see at least survive until the day that we, ourselves, rise from those same dark depths to act as the harbinger of mankind’s final doom).

Chtulhu Ventures seems to be far more invested in the the good of mankind than the average SF VC.

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu Ventures R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

Nice try, mortal

I expected The Team to include Yog Sothoth.

Comedy comment in a standard post? Downvotes.

Comedy name for a VC firm on a site where people hope they can get VC cash for their "it's the Uber of XYZ industry" start-up?

"Epic lulz sir! Taking jokes into the business world is brave!"

I hate to ask this but is this satire?

They're real, unless all of their portfolio companies[1] and Bloomberg profiles[2] are also part of the satire. Hey, you never know, it's 2019.

[1] https://collaborativeaggregates.com/about-collaborative-aggr...


[2] https://www.bloomberg.com/profile/person/20346101

Nope looks real after digging deeper. Based on the portfolio it looks to be based on Australia or NZ.

The website footer Contact section:

  Cthulhu Ventures llc
  100 Shoreline Hwy • Suite B280
  Mill Valley, CA 94941
  Tel: 415-444-9602 • Fax: 415-444-9602
  info at cthulhuventures.com

We invest in things that should not be

Portfolio looks interesting, Life360 is big. Unfortunately, this website is poorly designed to put it lightly.

I get that one of the founders really likes Lovecraft, but spend some money and do the website right instead of finding cthulu pictures off of google images and pasting them into a template.


>Parents can use Life360 to track their teen’s location in real time. The company can use that data to sell car insurance.

I think apps which allow parents to monitor their kids and invade their privacy are bad for humanity.

You think? It seems like about the one valid use case for tracking. I bought phones for my kids on the proviso they would be primarily for safety purposes. Though it will start to get a bit grey as they get older.

Finally a venture capitalist I can trust.

Cthulhu 2020. Why choose the lesser evil?

Nyarlatothep 2020: The Dark Pharao for President!

Hastur 2020: Who but that which is already the yellow king?

> Nyarlatothep 2020: The Dark Pharao for President!

He's standing for Prime Minister of the UK, but in his views, that doesn't disqualify him from running for president too. No "dirty laundry", so to speak.

I take it you are a fan of the Laundry Files then?


You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment.

Or your head catches fire?

I believe it's more precisely:

Cthulhu for President. Why settle for the lesser evil?

No more years! No more years!

Checked the Portofolio and seems to be... authentic? Cthulhu Fhtagn!

Slightly off-topic, but is "The Call of Cthulu" still worth reading?

I haven't read it yet, so I'm curious if it's somewhat dated, or tame according to modern sensibilities.

I enjoyed it, however I have something of a weakness for "cosmic horror" and the whole "mysteries beyond our understanding" thing that Lovecraft does.

It mostly holds up, but the proliferation of the themes explored by it and the memeification of Cthulu and the "Great Old Ones" does probably make it more tame than reading it without foreknowledge of the contents.

You can find most of Lovecraft's works (and some of his ghostwriting) as audiobooks on youtube if you want to give them a try [1].

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XM9Z39D1yyI

There is much that has been done since Lovecraft's work that has vastly improved on the basics, and his writing feel a bit rough to me.

John Dies at the End might be a good read, though keep in mind it is also comedic (so dark comedy), so if you're looking for that serious horror tone then you might want to look elsewhere.

My friends have played a video game called Bloodborne and they claim it's the best cosmic horror story they have seen. Supposedly to really get the story though, you have to either spend a lot of time trying to piece it out by playing it, or just read/watch a synopsis.

Synopsis if you're interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjWOy6ioVHI&feature=emb_logo

It's very short. Go for it. Personally it's one of my least favorite short stories by Lovecraft and it's amusing to me that Cthulhu became so wrapped up in popular culture when there are many far more interesting beasties in his lore.

Thanks! Which of his stories would you most recommend?

The color out of Space[1] is pretty good! However the Dunwich Horror[2], The Shadow over Innsmouth[3], At the Mountains of Madness[4], and of course, the Call of Cthulhu[5] are all good.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXyda5iiGEo

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKkya1pMhMQ

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gviofDcypzE

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2iSmE129uQ

[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XM9Z39D1yyI

It's not what you expect and probably other of his stories are better. But it became the most famous one of his tales. You can get a copy of most of them together: http://arkhamarchivist.com/free-complete-lovecraft-ebook-noo...

I'd say it's still quite good.

Cthulhu Mythos is the best example of open source in the genre we now know as Weird Fiction.

All Hail, Cthulhu!

The percentage put into advertising is kinda low

I appreciate their commitment to the bit. I wish their team included slightly more diversity however.

I just had mandatory diversity training, and TBH I'm genuinely confused about what is considered acceptable by its proponents.

If your comment is based on diversity of gender, it seems to run afoul of several "diversity" tenets I was just taught:

- It infers their physical gender based on their appearance.

- It conflates physical gender with gender identity.

- It infers race based on physical appearance.

- It infers ethnicity based on apparent race.

- If brings up the topic of those particular persons' races, ethnicities, physical gender, and perhaps gender identities, when you can't be sure they want them to be discussed.

I'm not trying to be snarky with this comment. I genuinely don't understand what it is that the diversity-advocating crowd is advocating regarding acceptable discussion.

You're overthinking this.

Humans have to make basic baseline assumptions when interacting with people. This is normal, and there is no majority voice in the community that advocates for increasing diversity that is saying you can't do this. The 'DID YOU JUST ASSUME MY GENDER?' stuff is is an out of the norm reaction that has largely been co-opted into a meme by those that are against increased diversity as an attempt to ridicule it. The same with the 'identifying as an attack helicopter' crap. There are definitely extreme voices, but they are a small minority.

The goal for those who are pushing for diversity and continuing to combat sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. is not to alienate everyone and force them to never believe anything about someone's race, gender, etc. unless explicitly informed. The goal is to make sure you respect that sometimes appearances don't match reality.

I have a lot of good friends. Some of them happen to be trans. I have never seen any of them get upset at someone who misgendered them prior to transition, as long as they made an effort to correctly gender them after being informed. During transition, largely the same. Post-transition it's usually quite obvious, but I still see them exercise patience, at least at first, if the person's demeanor isn't hostile.

As for bringing up the topics - they might not want to rehash it with you, or anyone. That means that if they ask you to drop it or are otherwise expressing discomfort with the subject, do so. Don't debate it right around them (and I'm guilty of this one!). But that doesn't mean don't discuss the issues. They can ignore comment threads on the internet they don't want to read, and those of us not facing those issues need to be cognizant of them and discuss them. In person, not so much - especially in the workplace, where they might not have any way to escape the discussion.

The goal isn't to be the thought police. The goal is to be courteous to others.

What they want is that you need a diversity counselor for every action or endeavor you undertake in daily life. So it is deliberately confusing, to make it impossible to navigate without a gender studies degree.

Was going to mention the low diversity as well...

+1 . Whenever I see "Cthulhu" written somewhere, I think of those racist passages from the book. And then I scroll that website and I see 0 ethnnic diversity in a poorly designed slideshow. Yup, the lack of taste in webdesign adds to the queasiness.


Yes, but if you're called Cthulhu Ventures, I would expect at least one Shoggoth on the team.

Jordan Peterson is a favored voice of the alt-right and his views are not generally consistent with evidence based research. [1] [2]

Recognizing that people have different life experiences based on their gender, race, etc. is not racist. The goal is not homogenizing everyone and everything. You cannot recreate that sort of diversity within a single group. That isn't to say there isn't diversity within that group - obviously there is. But the idea that you can have more diversity in a group made up of all white men than one that has a larger mix of genders, races, and ethnicities is, if I'm being totally honest, absurd in its basic premise.

Understanding that there are differences between people isn't racist. I cannot respect cultural differences that I refuse to see because I'm "colorblind." I can't respect different life experiences and difficulties faced if I refuse to see them. I can't accept differing inputs that are fundamentally based on those different life experiences if I am unable to modulate my treatment of someone based on who they are.

It's a common misconception that the way to beat racism, sexism, etc. is to be "colorblind" or "genderblind" - but it isn't. One size fits all approaches are fundamentally flawed, and ultimately result in the group in power attempting to force everyone else to conform to their mold. This isn't exclusive to white men - it's just generally the group in power wherever they are. You see the same behavior with different outcomes all over the world, so I'm not framing this as a "white men are bad". You have to treat people fairly - I should pay a black person as much as a white person - but if the topic of racial issues in America comes up, I should take the input of the black person over that of a white person. If I was in Japan and that came up vis a vis treatment of foreigners there, I should take the input of the white person over the Japanese person.

Fair treatment means equal treatment in many ways, but not all of them. Some experiences and viewpoints are impossible to recreate if you are not part of that group. That diversity can never be recreated by a homogenous group.

1. https://hbr.org/2016/11/why-diverse-teams-are-smarter 2. http://gap.hks.harvard.edu/impact-gender-diversity-performan... (There's a very large body of research on this. Hundreds of studies. I have picked two based on them being high on my google results, but if you really want I can link dozens or hundreds more.)

Sorry but I would not trust a company that brands itself using a mythical monster to give me funding. If I'm putting the future of my company in the hands of some venture-capitalists I'd want to know they're the real deal and a company that uses:

"Our goal, as Cthulhu, is to support initiatives designed to rise from the dark depths of R’lyeh (metaphorically speaking!) and end up destroying or at least disrupting, some market paradigm."

As its opening line does not exude professionalism.

Clearly, one will never become the next unicorn using silly mythical names (or other references).


See my response to TeMPOral downstream. Using names isn't the problem, saturating your company with the mythology is.

Corporate culture and the grandiose, self-serving rhetoric of startups and VC culture are no less ridiculous than this, just less entertaining.

Totally agree

It's a fictional mythos made up not hugely long ago. Odds are good that it was an expression of skepticism about the supposed loving God of Christian culture. It describes a reality in which the gods not only don't care about you, but you should actively seek to avoid being noticed by them because having their attention is very much a bad thing.

This is consistent with the experience of a lot of children who are better off trying to handle certain things themselves rather than telling their parents or teachers. It's also consistent with how terribly homosexuals (among others) were punished by the authorities for simply existing probably around the time of the birth of this fictional mythos.

The company positioning fairly openly acknowledges that a successful startup is "a destroyer of worlds." Wildly succeeding with a disruptive new tech creates a new reality that may or may not have its good points, but the old order is gone. The Cthulhu plreference is at a minimum left-handed acknowledgement that corporate culture is widely understood to be fundamentally uncaring and psychopathic.

This might actually be a perfectly healthy thing to embrace. Much evil in the world grows out of the need to have a good reputation which creates friction because looking good and doing good tend to part ways at some point. Being in the public eye comes with inherent moral challenges that are frequently glossed over in discussions that place an excess of importance on things like transparency.

Often, those critiquing the choices of people or entities in the public eye lack both the full story and first-hand experience with dealing with an equally uncaring and often openly hostile public that seeks to hold others to a standard it makes zero effort to pretend to try to meet itself.

These I don’t really see a problem with. The name is inspired by fiction that’s fine. When I go onto a firms website and see images of a mythical monster plastered everywhere that’s when it gets a bit ridiculous.

A good chunk of countries, counties and cities on the planet have mythical beasts in their official signage. So do the militaries and companies dealing with them. From the other end, entrepreneurial scene is full of discussions about a particular mythical beast, the unicorn (as 'DoreenMichele pointed out upthread). And, of course, dragons.

Really, it doesn't seem to me that you're uncomfortable with mythical beasts per se. It's just this creature isn't part of the old, baseline culture. It isn't Greek/Roman/Chinese mythology. It's a part of the nerd subculture. That's what I think you're uncomfortable with.

> A good chunk of countries, counties and cities on the planet have mythical beasts in their official signage. So do the militaries and companies dealing with them.

Yes they do and that isn't a problem. There is a difference between using symbols and names and then branding your entire website with said things.

> From the other end, entrepreneurial scene is full of discussions about a particular mythical beast, the unicorn (as 'DoreenMichele pointed out upthread).

The link 'DoreenMichele sent is not the point. I don't care about signage I care about branding. Starbucks isn't using the Mermaid mythology in how it describes its company, it uses it as signage. That's fine no issues there.

Side note: I think the "unicorn" obsession in the tech sector is stupid and overrated. If a company advertises that it's looking for its next "unicorn-x" then I pretty much write them off.

> Really, it doesn't seem to me that you're uncomfortable with mythical beasts per se. It's just this creature isn't part of the old, baseline culture. It isn't Greek/Roman/Chinese mythology. It's a part of the nerd subculture. That's what I think you're uncomfortable with.

I think that's a pretty big leap to make. I have no issues with a company calling itself "Cthulu". I have an issue with how it is plastered all over the site and has even formed its mission statement around it.

Pretty sure this is on-point branding and differentiation.

Some people want to work with your faceless pristine professional top-heavy VC firm oozing with pedigree (McK,GS,Ivy galore) and some people want to roll the dice with people who aren't afraid to distinguish themselves from the culture of their herd and go hard (maybe too hard?) on something niche. So their branding is probably serving some use in self-selection and mindshare - I'm sure plenty of people will remember Cthulhu Ventures, for instance.

I'm ambivalent either way, I wouldn't judge too about this book based on its cover per se other than they've clearly thought about how they want the cover to be received which is a data point in and of itself. I suppose better that than not thinking about the cover whatsoever.

If that's what they're going for then fine. I expressed my opinion that I wouldn't take them seriously. Underneath the ridiculous branding they may very well be a great VC firm but the website doesn't sell that to me.

Tangencial question: aren't those names copyright by the Tolkien Estate?

I remember TSR had an issue using hobbit in their D&D game.

You forgot Palantir. As soon as you see a Tolkien reference in a company's name, you know Peter Thiel is involved.

Yeah, I just wanted to mention the ones that were specifically for investment, as the ancestral post talked about VC firms. Tech companies are known to follow more- whimsical branding schemes.

Entirely possible that it acts as a filter for companies that have a superficial evaluation of 'professionalism'.

"Our goal, as Cthulhu, is to support initiatives designed to rise from the dark depths of R’lyeh (metaphorically speaking!) and end up destroying or at least disrupting, some market paradigm."

Happy to maintain social paradigms though - only one woman on then entire team...

"In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming" They do not want him woke

Underrated comment.

Exactly . They are different . They don't stick to norms

Well, Lovecraft was not exactly a progressive either.

What would you suggest they do to resolve this?

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact