All in + VC
Above anything, raising money through ICO instead of via VCs really put a question mark, IMHO, on the founders' ability to convince, which to me is the key quality of a good founder.
Another problem would be: should the underwriters, led by Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, be responsible for this? If they had seen a sharp divide between private equity investors ($15) and public traders ($10) during book-building, they should have advised the founders to lower the subscription price to below $10 even though the PE people have put in enough subscription at $15 to complete IPO.
To successfully raise a 1st-time fund as an independent VC, like us, it takes superior strategy for building deal flows, carefully hammering out tactics to approach potential LPs, sophisticated orchestrating of timelines, proper and to-the-point PR campaigns that will cost you money up-front, and fundamentally just lots of lots salesmen's skills.
One of the most intriguing behaviors is VCs talking about investment horizons that are beyond normal fund lives, e.g. 10~12 years. They talk about how they are willing to wait another 3 or 4 years before the team rolls out a really good deep tech product. They talk about real disruptions in energy generation, material sciences, etc, as opposed to yet another teenager social networking app. They talk about how the 10-year bet would either monopolize a market or perish.
So much is talking, especially that some of those VCs do not have backgrounds as entrepreneurs or even engineers in the said deep-tech fields.
As 2017 kicked off for the Hardware Club as usual with a grand firework at CES in Las Vegas and a following week in Bay Area, we've done some heat check with our private network. Here are some thoughts for the investment trends in hardwares for 2017.
Especially at Pre-Seed, Seed or even Series A, the first ticket from a VC is usually more like an information ticket. It allows them to work closely with the most promising startups. And if some of them are progressing exceptionally well, the VC will be able to double down on their bets by participating or even leading a follow-on round.
While most outsiders think a VC's job is the same as a stock picker, which is to make better decision in buying stocks than others. It could not be further away from the truth.
90% of our job is sell-side, if not more. Making the buy-side investment decisions is key to our eventual financial performances. However, without the 90% of sell-side effort, we may never get to choose, to exit and even to have the money to invest!