It all started when it occurred to me that we were missing a nice visual map of Silicon Alley’s early-stage ecosystem available for everyone to use. Entrepreneurs were always asking me about various angels and VC’s and I just thought that such a map would be a good resource to which I could refer people. […]
After I posted the recent map of Silicon Alley’s early-stage venture ecosystem, a healthy number of people found it to be very helpful and several suggested I do the same for Boston. Well, here’s my first stab at capturing what is just a massive early stage venture ecosystem! Until you lay it out on a […]
In that I am a heavy user of mapping software and think programs like MindNode are excellent visual aids, I decided to put together a first draft of the early-stage tech investor ecosystem here in Silicon Alley as a resource for entrepreneurs.
As this is a first stab, I would ask your help in the comment section of this post letting me know about any early-stage investors I have left out and/or about any corrections of errors you come across. Get the map after the jump.
In the tech world there was of course Sergey and that little pet project of his (and Larry’s) at Stanford we came to know as Google. Then there was Max and his partners- unfurling the behemoth of PayPal and then Slide. In the fight game Andrei Arlovski appeared suddenly out of nowhere, shaking-up the heavyweight […]
In investor parlance, there is an oft-expressed and colorful turn-of-phrase called “hair on the deal,” which immediately signals the kiss of death for a company’s investment prospects.
There are, of course, grammatical and regional variations on this expression but the implication and import are always one and the same: that the company in question will not get funded. Among investors discussing a deal, the mere whiff of this hirsute quality will often suffice to end a discussion of the company’s merits and shortcomings.
In this post, however, I intend to delve into exactly what the range of characteristics exhibited by a company and/or its founders are that embody this dreaded state of ‘hairiness.’
Recently an entrepreneur extraordinaire I admire by the name of Chris Dixon touched on the two general paradigms people/institutions can adopt towards one another when conducting business. He first referenced the transactional/legalistic approach wherein labor is exchanged for money in the form of a contract that is enforced by organizations, (especially the legal system). The other approach is one based on trust, verbal agreements, reputation and is “enforced” (so to speak) by the community. As Dixon points out, the world of startups is overwhelmingly governed by the trust/reputation/community approach.
Let’s just juxtapose these very different paradigms against the backdrop of the modern American university. As we’ve established in earlier posts in this series, it has now become fashionable and accepted for universities and their tech transfer offices to engage in the practice of spinning-off companies based on their intellectual property and know-how. In fact, according to AUTM statistics, over 600 university startups are created every year based on federally funded R&D.
If you’re in the mood for a really enjoyable film, I recommend Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes. In it he uses the latest movie-making technologies to animate 19th century London in all its dark immensity and brooding menace- from the elegant halls of parliament to the ornate rooms of masonic temples to the labyrinthine sewers beneath the city. The sets and staging in and of themselves are a masterpiece and are simply breathtaking. I think the production designer should be nominated for yet another Academy Award.
I also came to this film with a sensibility that I did not have when I first encountered Holmes as a young boy reading Conan Doyle. I was of course neither an entrepreneur nor an early-stage investor. Not surprisingly, this time, soon after leaving the theater something I had never considered before really hit me. I was struck by the realization that Sherlock would have made an amazing venture capitalist!
“What a perfectly silly notion my dear Watson!”, he would no doubt have replied. But I would have to insist and say that VC’s and Angel Investors young and old would do well to emulate some of Sherlock’s best qualities. Here they are as I see them: