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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

$20B crumbs

You think $20B is a lot of money. Think again.

$20B is the amount that VCs invest every year.

But where does the money come from?
The reality is that VC funds get their money from Limited Partners, for whom VC investment is considered "alternative investment". This means that it represents a very small fraction of their own portfolio. Something that they do not spend as much of their attention on.

And where does this lead us?
More and more people (including partners in VC funds) agree that something is broken with the VC model. But nobody is doing anything about it:
- The Limited Partners are happy with the people they work with, they have invested their money but even more important they have invested their trust in them. So if anything can be done, they trust that these partners will work on the issue to fix.
- And then the VCs do their best, they apply their expertise, they keep feeding the system with startups that they think will make a difference, and their view of fixing anything is to do more of same except better. Maybe they will widen the scope of their investment, or maybe get into other types of investments so that they can follow the startups throughout their lifecycle. But the one thing they will not do is question too far the system that feeds them, specially when it works good enough that they can make a good living out of it (who would do any different really?).

So in the end, the VC model, however broken people will agree it is, is here to stay for some time, and until somebody decides to deal with the crumbs.

What is interesting is that $20B is also the amount that Angels invest every year of smaller size deal. And again, where does the money come from?
Angel money is the "mad money", the spare change angels invest in startups so that they stay involve with innovation and entrepreneurship (the passion, the energy) while not having to do the hard work. A very precious help for entrepreneurs, but is it money well spent the way it is done today? I have discussed this in a previous post, and entrepreneurs are not getting as much help as they could hope from there either.

This is the challenge for the Entrepreneur Commons (tm), trying to find the Limited Partner or the Foundation that will decide to deal with these $20B crumbs...
If you are or know one of these, please contact me.