Chances are they were talking about swapping out one management team for another. It unsettles a startup, soaks up board time and can cost money.
Or so said several VCs at the recent AlwaysOn Venture Summit Silicon Valley 2010.
One common misperception is that VCs jump quickly into deals without thinking. The opposite is frequently the case.
GGV Capital Partner Jeff Richards said on average he spends nine months getting to know a company before investing. Prior to putting cash into music steamer Pandora Media Inc. in June, GGV followed the startup for four years.
Part of the “getting-to-know-you” is becoming familiar with company management. When betting on outcomes worth hundreds of millions of dollars, nothing may be more important.
The top thing GGV looks for is a good chief executive, said Richards (pictured) at the conference. Things often don’t work out well when a venture firm needs to swap one management team for another, he added.
Matthew McCall, partner at New World Ventures, agreed. He said he has never made money after replacing a management team –- an unnerving thought.
VCs often point to entrepreneurs as their key asset. When that asset goes astray it is likely to lead to a difficult confession down the road about what could have been.