Is Andrew Parker secretly running Union Square Ventures?
Today I was making myself a coffee, and thinking about how fast/slow I can move, and how that’s changed over the years. When I was 24 I perhaps had more energy, but I often acted in a quite unfocused way. Now I’m 44, and I still have tons of energy. E.g., I was up coding last night until 6:30am, and then got up at 10am this morning and continued, so I’m not exactly loafing around with slippers and a pipe reflecting on my glory days. But I also have 3 kids, and other things going on. I have to act in a much more focused way or I couldn’t do the things I want to do.
But….., I then thought, the life of your average VC probably has some strong similarities. A couple of kids, insanely busy when working, regularly carving out quality time for family, needing to stay very organized and on top of things, needing to keep multiple balls rolling, etc. Those thoughts led me to reconsider Fred’s posting, but in the context of VCs.
Might it be that the best VC general partners would actually be a bunch of 24 years olds? Of course they could have some older guys as analysts. What do 40-50 year old VCs have that 20-30 year olds don’t that makes them more qualified and better as VCs? If you want to argue that experience makes the older better, you probably need to argue that for entrepreneurs too. If you want to argue that the energy of youth makes for a better entrepreneur, you might need to argue that for VCs too. If you want to argue that young founders have unique insight into what products will be successful, you might think the same would be true of young VCs — if there were any.
It takes a massive amount of work to create and build a startup. Unless you’re a superstar, it’s also a huge amount of work to get funded. You have to go begging and scraping, on bended knee, hat in hand, to make mature and otherwise sober people with a lot of money believe in you. And that’s all done against a background of very steep odds. Similarly, it’s a massive amount of work to raise a venture fund. You have to make even more mature and more sober people with even more money believe in you. And you have to do it in a much less forgiving environment, also against steep odds.
Thirty or even twenty years ago, most CEOs would probably have scoffed at the idea that a 20-year-old could start and run a company, and sell it for tens or hundreds of millions, or even a billion, or take it public. We now know that that actually happens, and the idea that the very young can do it, including getting financial backing, is no longer foreign. Might not the same one day be true for fund managers? When will we see the first VC fund run by a couple of twenty-somethings? Will they exhibit a marked preference for funding older founders?
Back when Fred was posting, I pointed Howard Gutowitz to one of the postings. A couple of days later, Howard told me that he’d talked about it to his brother:
Robert made what is actually an interesting suggestion: get a figurehead 26 year old to be the CEO. Turn the old game around.
I think that’s pretty amusing.