Friday, October 9, 2009

Paul Kedrosky: "Why I Love Venture Capitalists"

From our August 31 post "Climateer Line of the Day: Venture Capital Edition":
"Fundamentally VCs are risk adverse – they want no risk in the deal, if we could handle risk we'd be entrepreneurs."

– Victor Westerlind, General Partner at Cleantech VC firm Rockport Capital
From TechCrunch:

Hating venture capitalists is profoundly satisfying. After all, they are slack-jawed, monied, oily, know-nothings who carom off innovation, fire capable founders, squash angel investors, and exist mostly to make commercial bankers look smart and interesting.

Or at least that’s the story we like to tell. By “we,” of course, I mean all of us who lovingly poke venture capitalists in the eye with sticks now and then. They are such easy targets, what with making up numbers about how many jobs they create, missing great investments, delivering awful ten-year returns to investors, having higher failure rates among companies they fund than among the ones they don’t, and generally being so self-important and irony-unaware.

But that doesn’t mean VCs are quacks. Or that what they do isn’t hard. Or that it’s unimportant. Because it is important, and the good ones are smart, and what they do is very, very hard.

Creating a successful startup is among the hardest things you can do in a capitalist economy. Entrepreneurs must successfully navigate a sea of multi-dimensional uncertainty, from technology (will it work?), to people (do I have the right employees?), to market (will anyone care?), to financial (can I finance doing this, and can I then sell the product or service for more than it costs?) At big companies you can fail at launching a product, fail at hiring people, fail at making money on a product, and fail at figuring out whether something will work. Your big company will probably be unaffected, and you may even get promoted. Do any of those things wrong at a startup and, in all likelihood, you’re dead. You are wandering a maze of dark and twisty passages — most of which are paved with trapdoors to hell....MORE