FIFA World Cup started in Russia last week and made news with the introduction of Video Assistant Referee technology. This feature from Engadget looks at FIFA’s tech experiments that drag soccer, which has resisted tech for a long time, into modern age. For this week’s posts, click on the paragraph links. >>>
Sramana Mitra: How do you parse unicorn mania?
Mackey Craven: By unicorn mania, do you mean the number of companies that have billion-dollar plus valuations that are still private?
Sramana Mitra: A lot of things. There’s unicorn mania in that there’s so much capital. There is a rush to fund these later stage companies and overfund these later stage companies. Last year, we did an extensive coverage of a phenomenon. It’s a unicorn mania negative phenomenon called Death by Overfunding. These were very good companies. >>>
Sramana Mitra: Unicorn mania started to rationalize a little bit in 2016. This year, it has stabilized. But there is still a huge amount of late stage capital out there. Traditional VCs have raised very large funds. As a seed investor, you could get buried under later stage liquidation preferences if valuations run up like that. How do you protect yourself?
John Frankel: When valuations run up, you’re fine. It’s when valuations stall or run back that you have issues.
Sramana Mitra: Both happen. Once valuation runs up, it stalls because fundamentals don’t deliver to valuation. >>>
Sramana Mitra: There’s another dynamic, which is a lot of these seed stage investors who are working in the very early stages are exiting into those kinds of mega rounds that come in Series B and C. That is a very healthy trend because I think these two segments are different. It could take a long time to traverse the full spectrum from friends and family all the way to something that is actually scaling at a significant pace. You can’t have small funds taking positions all the way through.
I also have some mixed feelings about this over investment in the seed and post-seed stages. In many of these cases, these companies don’t have either the velocity or the TAM to be venture-funded companies, but the entrepreneurs are setting themselves up with expectations that they’re going to be venture-funded companies.
Sramana Mitra: I’m going to ask you a few trend questions. How do you process the current investment climate where capital is moving further and further upstream? How does a seed investor mitigate the Series A gap? The number of seed investments that are happening have gone up but the Series A number has stayed steady. How do you parse this trend?
John Frankel: There’re a lot of data points out there. It’s easy to string them together into a story. The thing to understand is once a venture capitalist invests, probably two-thirds of their portfolio goes nowhere. One third gets written off. One third, they get their capital back. The last third is where the returns are. >>>
Sramana Mitra: You’ve been investing for a while. Let’s look at your 2017 deal flow. Give us some flavor of what trends you are seeing. How many deals do you see in a year? How many do you invest in? What are the highlights of the trends in that deal flow? Let’s just focus on 2017 just because we’ve just finished that time and it gives us a snapshot of what’s contemporary.
Mackey Craven: As a firm, we speak with roughly 5,000 companies and invest in five. We make concentrated investments that we think have the opportunity to be large and enduring. 2017 was no different. However, given the number of businesses and entrepreneurs that we speak with, one of the more interesting trends that we saw last year is directly related to the previous question around geography. >>>
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Entrepreneurs are invited to the 403rd FREE online 1Mby1M mentoring roundtable on Thursday, June 21, 2018, at 8 a.m. PDT/11 a.m. EDT/8:30 p.m. India IST.
If you are a serious entrepreneur, register to “pitch” and sell your business idea. You’ll receive straightforward feedback, advice on next steps, and answers to any of your questions. Others can register to “attend” to watch, learn, and interact through the online chat.