October 06, 2007

Why VCs DO NOT need to own 20%+ in your company

Fred Wilson has an obviously popular post arguing why it is it’s "rubbish" for VCs to put forth the usual argument that "in order to compensate a venture firm for all the time and energy they are going to put into a particular investment, they need to own at least 20% of the company and ideally 30%".
I have made vastly more money on companies where our firm owned 15% than on companies where our firm owned 20% or more.

To some extent the desire to own large chunks of companies is related to the size of the funds that many venture firms manage. A $120 million position in a recently IPO'd company might not be that interesting to a fund that is managing billions of dollars of investor's capital. But it sure is interesting to me.

One of the things we are doing in the venture capital business by raising ever larger fund sizes and amassing larger pools of capital under management is creating problems and then making them the entrepreneur's problem.

And so we tell the entrepreneur that we need 20% of his or her company to solve our problem. I don't think that's right. I've said this before and I am going to say it again. The scarce resource in the venture capital business is great entrepreneurs with cutting edge ideas willing to work 100 hour weeks turning the ideas into businesses. The scarce resource is not capital and yet we are optimizing our businesses to be able to manage ever larger sums of capital.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the Private Equity and Venture Capital ecosystem in India. View sample issues of Venture Intelligence India newsletters and reports.