Supplement | HBS Case Collection | January 2009 (Revised December 2009)

Playing with Fire at Sittercity (B)

by Noam T. Wasserman and Rachel Gordon


To help her finance her aggressive expansion plans, Genevieve Thiers plans to raise venture capital for the first time. She has spent the last six long years building Sittercity into the nation's leading babysitting web service, larger than all of its competitors combined. In the process, she brought her boyfriend and his sister into the business to help her, and ended up learning important lessons about mixing family and business. Now looking to raise venture capital, Thiers has just received an email from a general partner at a top VC firm, proposing another meeting and asking her to bring to the meeting an extensive list of proprietary information. This was a promising development, but Thiers was unsure whether she wanted to discuss Sittercity in such depth, especially when the venture capital firm had refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement. How should she respond?

Keywords: Entrepreneurship; Venture Capital; Problems and Challenges; Risk Management; Agreements and Arrangements; Service Operations; Family and Family Relationships; Competition; Expansion; Internet;


Wasserman, Noam T., and Rachel Gordon. "Playing with Fire at Sittercity (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 809-010, January 2009. (Revised December 2009.)