Last week I wrote a post suggesting that all of us venture capitalists should pay attention to the anti-VC opinions out there.
While I am proud of my work, our firm and many of the outstanding VCs we co-invest with, I realize there is plenty of anti-VC opinions out there. We owe it to ourselves, our customers (entrepreneurs) and shareholders (LPs) to pay attention to the discussion.
And there is always room for improvement. Nobody is perfect :)
I thought I would expand on this topic with a few examples & suggestions:
I think we VCs need to stop the double standard when it comes to non-competes. We can’t insist on locking up employees under a non-compete agreement in states that enforce them (ie MA) and then somehow fund entrepreneurs without any reservation in other states that don’t enforce them (CA). Let’s get rid of employee non-competes everywhere.
Pay to Pitch
In recent months I learned something that I didn’t know was going on. Some angel groups are charging entrepreneurs to pitch. Brad Feld said it best in his post, An Angel Group Move That Makes Me Vomit. Since then Charlie O’Donnell, Jason Calacanis and Fred Wilson have all weighed in against this practice. I completely agree. That isn’t cool and I won’t participate in any events that charge entrepreneurs to pitch investors.
Fred wrote a post yesterday about the VC speak – “we need to own”. It’s an excellent write up and it’s another area where VCs can do better. Instead of a “we need” it argument, it should be more about “we want” to see in this investment or not. This is what I wrote in the comments.
The other thing that came up in the comments on that same post was the expression “our companies” by venture capitalists. It drives entrepreneurs crazy and I can see why. It’s much more accurate and respectful to say “our portfolio companies”. Credit where credit is due.
* * *
Clarification: I can already see the faces of some of my VC colleagues that read this post. It may sound like I’m coming off as holier than thou which is clearly not the intention. Like I said before, we all can improve and I realize I’ve still got plenty to learn. Fortunately I’m surrounding myself with people that I like, admire, respect and teach me along the way!