I recently attended and presented at Dave McClure’s PreMoney conference in San Francisco. I go every year because I love events hosted & moderated by insiders involving discussions by insiders because it maximizes the amount of real discussions people have. What you’ll see if you watch the video is an unscripted and unfiltered look into how Scott Kupor & I see some of the changes and challenges of the venture industry.
Scott and I agree on nearly everything: The VC structure is changing and there appears to be a bifurcation into small & large VCs with an impact on “traditionally sized” VCs. I wrote my version here and Scott wrote an excellent write-up of his views here.
We both agree that the later-stage valuations are being driven up to a point that feels irrationally priced [he uses b-round SaaS valuations as an example and I am willing to be even more broad based]
We both are concerned about non-traditional capital entering the late stages and the impact that may have in the next downturn in the economy to the startups who merely trying to optimize for short-term valuation maximization
Here is the video of the presentation that I gave that preceded our debate.
The only point we didn’t seem totally aligned on was what we happening to the “middle of the VC market.” I believe Scott’s argument is that the market is following many other services markets where you have small, expert, boutique small firms and a handful of mega players as we see in banking, law, accounting, entertainment agencies, et.
There has been much discussion in the past few years of the changing structure of the venture capital industry.
On the surface the narratives have been
The rise of “micro VCs” or seed-stage funds
The rise of alternative sources of capital (crowd funding and the like)
The poor performance of the asset class (this analysis has largely been wrong as I pointed out here –> most analyses were clumsy rear-view mirror looks at the data)
We are in a bubble (with so many private $1bn+ valuations)
15 years ago we were at the peak of Internet hype with the launch of many over-capitalized businesses with a market size & opportunity was limited.
Where are we today?
50x more Internet users (2.4 billion)
Online connections that are 180x faster (10.
Since 2009 we’ve been in an unequivocal bull market. Venture capitalists have raised increasing amounts of money from their investors (LPs) every year. An impressive number of new VCs have been created – most of them with new seed funds. We’ve had an explosion of alternate sources of financing from crowd-sourcing, angels, accelerators, incubators, corporates, corporate incubators. And importantly we’ve had revenue. Consumers buying through smart phones, travelers using the new, shared economy and businesses replacing old software with modern cloud-based solutions.
It has been a good run.
But it won’t last forever. It could last 6 more months or 6 more years for all I know. But the economy grows in cycles and always has: Expansion & contraction. For what ever reason we’re wired to have amnesia during the run up and prescient memories of how we ‘knew it all along’ as soon as the slide begins. I do believe that we are in structural change where technology will increasingly play a bigger role in all facets of life so the long run up for tech is promising through all of these cycles. Once you understand both sides of the cycle you start to recognize signs of behavior during each phase.
Update: Bothsides TV is now available on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, or any RSS podcast player you use, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube. I also added a little Soundcloud widget on the sidebar (if you’re viewing on web – not on mobile or RSS reader) that you can listen to each episode with.
In the most recent episode, I interviewed Joe Perez, Founder of Tastemade. If you don’t know Joe, you should. He has a long career in developing products and companies (such as Pogo, Excite@Home, Demand Media, The Daily Plate and now TasteMade) discussed much about his career choices and lessons.
By now almost everybody knows that Marc Andreessen has taken Twitter by storm. By Tweetstorm, that is. Marc seems to single handedly have changed all conventions in Tweeting by dropping 7-10 rapid Tweets in a related stream-of-consciousness labeling each Tweet with a number and a slash before it.
Fred Wilson wrote a Tweetstorm and then did a blog post on the topic. I’ll address his questions at the end of this post.
While Fred’s post makes sense, I honestly think Tweetstorming isn’t Marc’s real magic on Twitter. So I’d like to weigh in with what I believe is.
Marc Andreessen was a prolific and much read blogger for a brief period of time. People religiously read, shared and pontificated on his work. This was pre social media. And then out of nowhere he abruptly stopped. And from there Ben Horowitz became the amazing blogger of record at a16z. Of course they then added Chris Dixon, Ben Evans and many other great public voices.