Investing In Competing Companies

Bijan has a really good blog post up today about Spark's approach to investing in competing companies (they don't). He says:

I’m quite sure that we will miss a few important investments and i’m sure we could be more aggressive with and flirt with the gray line that we are trying figure out every day.

Our firm takes an almost identical approach to Spark on this topic. Back in early 2007, I wrote a blog post at USV.com on this topic. After reading Bijan's post, I went back and re-read my blog post. I wouldn't change a word four years later. Which feels really good to me.

I believe that VC is a service business and our customer is the entrepreneur. Our shareholders are the limited partners who allow us to invest their capital. And I believe that in order to service the entrepreneurs we work with to our fullest, we cannot and should not have competing investments.

I know that there are VC firms out there that don't share this view. And I am sure they have found a way to make it work for them and the companies they invest in. But we haven't and I am sure we never will.