Parting Shots

Note to myself: When I leave the venture business, please do not bash it on the way out.

Two of the great Boston VCs of the 70s, 80s, and 90s didn’t follow that advice and I feel badly reading their parting shots.

Exactly one year ago, Paul Ferri, the great VC from Matrix in Boston told the Boston Globe that he is advising investors to avoid the VC business.  The quote about their money was "you won’t get it back". That pissed me off.  And I wrote this post in response.

Now we have Howard Anderson, a founder of Battery Ventures, saying "Goodby to Venture Capital" in the MIT Technology Review.  Thanks to Brad Feld for the link.

Howard’s list of problems with the venture business is at least three years old and in many cases at least ten years old.

Too much capital chasing too few deals?   I’ve heard that since the day I entered the business in 1986.  That’s always the case in this business.

Innovation is dead?  Come on.  What planet are you living on Howard?  Stuff is happening so fast right now I can’t sleep or I’ll miss something important.

Venture returns sucked in the 1999 and 2000 period?  Is that news?   How about showing the early returns on the 2001 and 2002 vintages?

Enterprises are sick of buying technology?  Sure IT organizations aren’t buying hardware and software as much anymore, but business units are buying software services they don’t have to manage and deploy like no tomorrow.

This goodbye note from Howard is so off base that I can only think Howard feels the need to justify his retirement.  He can’t feel good leaving the greatest job on planet earth unless he says the good times are over.

I just hope that I have the good sense to behave better on my way out.