Top positive review
346 people found this helpful
for what it promises it is good... but do you want what it promises?
on July 1, 2013
I am a 2x entrepreneur who has raised over $20M in VC funding, so when i say this is a must-read IF you want to raise money I am speaking out of experience.
I wish I had this book in 2007, when I was trying to raise money. Terms like "double ratchet anti-dilution", "preferred", "participation", "vesting pool' or "liquidation events" were all terms that I was completely ignorant about. worst yet, our attorneys had to explain these to me, and at $750/hr it was a costly lesson. $30 for this book would have saved me $1,000's in legal fees, and hundreds of thousands in earnings.
Well, but now that i have read this book my long-held view about VCs is further perpetuated.
VCs are in the business to accomplish two things: (1) preserve their LP capital (i.e. don't lose money). and (2) earn outsized earning to makeup for all the duds (i.e. take everything you can).
Note, "make the entrepreneur lots of money" is not on the list. This is something that the authors and most VCs, including Mark Suster on his talks/blogs will confirm this. As an entrepreneur you end up working for the VCs and will get wealthy if your company ends up being one of the 0.01% of VC companies that have very successful exits. If your company does just "great", or "OK" then expect to earn nothing from the exit - while the VC will walkaway with 2x to 5x of the investment.
This is not a bad thing if you expect to be in the 0.01%, but as that number indicates - it's not likely.
so lets look at the main two things covered in this book that describe how VCs make money:
VCs get their money from pension funds, alternative asset funds, government organizations, and basically any large sources of capital that is looking for risk-adjusted better-than-average returns. these are the clients of VCs and these are the folks they are accountable to. So if they don't produce the expected returns, or worse yet lose their capital they won't be in business for too long.
To increase the odds of staying in business they do two things:
(a) push the risk to the entrepreneur and all the "common" investors - do you own "common stock" or "preferred stock"? 'nough said.
(b) make the ownership disproportionate to the proceeds of liquidation - meaning, if the ownership is split 50/50 between the founder and the VC then during the sale most of the proceeds (60% to 80%) will go to the VC.
this is done by instruments like "preferred class", "full participation", "anti-dilution" and other similar means that create asymmetry in risk/reword. Just read chapters 4 and 5 of the book if you need to see examples.
BTW: Does this sound familiar? we had a similar situation in the financial crisis of 2008. Banks created asymmetry in the housing market where they held disproportionate amount of the reword while the risk was pushed out to the homeowner and rest of the economy.
So, if as an entrepreneur and you have created a business that is cashflow-positive, and has a great product and market opportunity then think twice about the VC option. There are many other ways to raise money - loans, venture debt, private equity, and good ol' sales...
Granted, this might not be the fastest way to grow your company and presents the risk of being overtaken by a well-funded company. But if you know that the market is big enough for more then one player (even if you're #2), and you want to keep a larger amount of your hard-earned money and reduce the influence of VCs then think twice about the VC option.
But if you think your company is the next Facebook or Google then go for it. However, most founders endup working in "indentured servanthood" to VCs because they end up relinquishing control and ownership of the company while working long hard hours for little pay.
Buy this book. Read it. Explore all your capitalization options. Weigh the costs and benefits. But whatever you decide make sure to focus on creating a kick-a$$ products for a kick-a$$ markets more so then about raising money. If you have a great company money will find you.
Hope this helps your decision process.