Thursday, August 2, 2007

Dirty Little Secrets About VCs

After covering venture capitalists for about ten years, I've finally learned two things (I'm a slow learner):

    1. They need to hear about companies before their competition. (As a journalist, I can relate.)
    2. They compete fervently with other VCs to get their money into the best start-ups at the right valuation

Though they like to portray themselves as omniscient and omnipotent, they're actually quite anxious about missing the next big deal.

Blogging is still a new phenomenon among VCs here in Boston. (Jeff Bussgang at IDG Ventures has been at it the longest, as far as I can tell.)

One major purpose that blogging serves for the less-established VCs who do it is to raise their profile among entrepreneurs, to show entrepreneurs that they understand a particular space, that they are totally in sync. Older, more established VCs have a reputation, and entrepreneurs are magnetically pulled to them because of their track record, or because successful entrepreneurs make an introduction -- go see Mr. Greybeard, who's a partner at Established Venture Partners at the Bay Colony Center. They don't have to blog. (Yet.)

But the less-established VCs blog, and I suspect that is going to make them appealing to a new generation of not-yet-proven entrepreneurs with compelling ideas...and help them hear about these ideas first. On the West Coast, David Hornik of August Capital is the best example of a VC who has built his reputation atop his blog. Entrepreneurs know who he is.

I think the same is beginning to happen out here with the VC-bloggers (there's a list of them at right). The Rolodex and schmoozing and personal connections are still going to be important, but a blog is a great way to broadcast that you understand what's changing in the tech world -- both to entrepreneurs in New England and elsewhere.

What got me thinking about this was David Beisel's great post on "Seven Coming Digital Uber-trends which are Ripe for Startup Opportunities." This kind of stuff is flypaper for entrepreneurs; I know David's going to get e-mails from a bunch of start-ups saying, "Hey, I'm working on trend #2, can we set up a meeting?"

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