“And now there are five — five Wall Street behemoths, bigger than they were before the Great Meltdown, paying fatter salaries and bonuses to retain their so-called ‘talent,’ and raking in huge profits. The biggest difference between now and last October is these biggies didn’t know then that they were too big to fail and the government would bail them out if they got into trouble. Now they do. And like a giant, gawking adolescent who’s just discovered he can crash the Lexus convertible his rich dad gave him and the next morning have a new one waiting in his driveway courtesy of a dad who can’t say no, the biggies will drive even faster now, taking even bigger risks.”
• Rule No.1: Never lose money.
Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1
• Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful
• It is far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price
• Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down
• Price is what you pay. Value is what you get
• It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it
• Cash combined with courage in a crisis is priceless
• Never invest in a business you cannot understand
• Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for ten years
• Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago
• Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing
• If you don’t feel comfortable owning something for 10 years, then don’t own it for 10 minutes
• If a business does well, the stock eventually follows
• I wouldn’t mind going to jail if I had three cellmates who played bridge
• The fact that people will be full of greed, fear or folly is predictable. The sequence is not predictable
Yes. This always bothered me. I’d rather raise from a group of great angels (and therefore herd a lot of cats) than run the risk of having a seed VC not lead the next round. And if they do end up leading there are lots of distorted incentives that can cause serious problems for the entrepreneur. Negotiate too hard and you lose your lead and end up sending a really negative message to other prospective investors. Not good.
Thanks for the advice, would love to hear more about it. About to go through this now for the first time. Definitely leaning towards doing a syndicated angel deal than a VC seed round that also requires a board seat and other strings. Pros / Cons?
Your angels should get a board seat. More specifically, the lead should represent them as a class on the board. I guess this doesn’t always happen. It’s the way it worked for us, and it worked reasonably well. At some point they should expect to give up their seat as they get crammed down by professional venture investors in later rounds.
I think there are many reasons to go with an angel syndicate over a VC in an early seed round. The follow-on issue is only one of them. You also get more diverse advice. You also get friends. No investor is really your friend, but angels are probably as close as any investors get. Most angels invest because they love it, not so much for the returns. VCs are professionals that are fiduciaries for LPs (pension funds, university endowments, etc). They’re more likely to be dicks because sometimes they have to be dicks. You want investors who you can grow with.
There are exceptions to every rule. I think it would be tough to turn down a seed round from USV, for example. But imagine how much it must suck to have Fred put in $500,000 and then refuse to participate in your next round. Everyone out there thinks Fred has one of the best noses around. How do you explain to potential funders that Fred won’t be participating? This is always a problem, but it’s much more pronounced early in a company’s history when concrete metrics are hard to come by and you’re still to a large degree selling vision.