Venture Capitalists Adjusting… Or Giving Up?
from the question-of-the-hour dept
All weekend venture capitalists and entrepreneurs have been hotly discussing the NY Times article about top tier VC firm Sevin Rosen deciding to give up on its latest fund and return all the commitments. Sevin Rosen is one of the more distinguished VC names out there, and this move is surprising plenty of people. Getting lots of attention are the claims from Sevin Rosen that, “The traditional venture model seems to us to be broken.” Of course, if you’ve been paying attention to the space for any length of time, that isn’t a new comment. But, the real question, then, is why not adjust? VCs always like to pitch that they’re about more than just the money — and it’s their operating experience or connections that matters as well. If that were true, then shouldn’t they be able to actually figure out a way to adjust to the changing market? The same also goes for the claim that “too much money had flooded the venture business and too many companies were being given financing in every conceivable sector.” As VC Fred Wilson points out, VCs have always complained about too much money in the market — when all they mean is that there’s just too much competition. If they really do add so much value above and beyond the money, again, the competition aspect shouldn’t be an issue.
Finally, they complain about “a terribly weak exit environment,” by which they mean the IPO market. However, as many have noted in the past, a weak IPO market isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means that companies have to actually have a bit more sustainability to their business before they can go public. If you have a real business, it appears you can still go public. So, perhaps the real answer is that Sevin Rosen hasn’t yet figured out how they can add real value above and beyond the money they put in, in order to create real businesses with serious exit possibilities. If that’s the case, then perhaps it’s a good thing they’re taking a break to figure out how to change things for themselves. In fact, plenty of venture capital firms might want to do the same. However, this isn’t an indictment of the venture capital business, so much as it is of the way that many of the firms in the space have done business.