Pando

Watch Pando play "Fantasy Series A": Part V

By Sarah Lacy , written on April 18, 2016

From The Venture Capital Desk

Long after real March Madness has ended, CB Insight’s VC Series A dream team bracket is just getting interesting.

We are down to eight firms with some tough matchups. Watch below as I alienate more friends in the industry by making my picks.

Sequoia v. GV: This is the easiest one of the four. Even with some issues I have about Sequoia, they are easily the winner. Not only are they the most dominant firm in venture capital right now, but they aren’t GV. I’ve voted against GV in every round. The one thing you want in a series A investor is someone who has your back. GV has shown time and time again, they’re happy to throw portfolio companies under the bus, for inconsistent reasons. In the case of Bustle, they claimed a rare moral objection, despite keeping stakes in companies like Secret and Uber. And in the case of Secret, they complained about terms that may have seemed greedy, but that VCs agreed to. And the revolving door of “partners” gives startups little assurance they even know who they are doing a deal with.

Winner: Sequoia

Andreessen Horowitz v. Greylock Partners: This is the hardest match-up of the four. A short list of the people I respect most in the industry include Marc Andreessen, David Sze, Reid Hoffman, and Ben Horowitz. (All but Horowitz are investors in Pando, but his daughter Sophia did intern for us early on.) Both firms have different strengths, so a lot of this comes down to what a founder would want. Andreessen Horowitz has constructed a machine to help entrepreneurs with sales, recruiting, publicity and other elements of company formation. But it’s hard to give up having a David Sze or a Reid Hoffman on your board if you were a consumer company, or Aneel Bhusri on your board if you were an enterprise company. This would mostly come down to the partner involved, chemistry with the entrepreneur, the type of business being funded, and how much the firm seemed excited about it.

But it’d be bullshit for me not to pick a winner. So for me, the slight advantage would have to go to Andreessen Horowitz. This is no negative reflection on Greylock. But Marc Andreessen spent years telling me I should start a company and offering to support me if I ever did. He was the first check committed to us, when I was raising money with a baby in the room but no PowerPoint. He’s disagreed with a lot of our harsh industry coverage-- sometimes publicly--  and as a result, we’re certainly not as close as we’ve been in the past. But he’s never tried to pressure me to do anything differently. And he’s always been the first to return any menial paperwork we needed done. In short, he supported us before anyone else and I couldn’t have asked for him to do anything differently. That’s hard for anyone to compete with.

Winner: Andreessen Horowitz

USV v. Foundry: This is a tough one too, that mostly comes down to geography. If you are in New York, you should take money from USV. Local networks matter greatly with recruiting and networking, and USV played a greater role than any firm in getting New York’s startup mojo going. As much as I respect what Brad Feld has build with Foundry-- and certainly he has a kinder, gentler UI than USV’s Fred Wilson-- I’d probably go with USV. They can be prickly but are relentless advocates of companies once they invest.

Winner: USV

Bessemer Ventures v. First Round Capital: First Round Capital easily takes this one. Nothing against Bessemer Ventures, or the very thoughtful Jeremy Levine, but they don’t have close to the same profile. The only knock you could make on First Round is they tend to only be involved during a certain stage of a company’s life, and they invest widely in lots of companies. You could argue you get a longer commitment from a more traditional firm like Bessemer. But ultimately, I’d pick First Round for a lot of the value added talks, events, services that particularly help first time entrepreneurs. (Disclosure: Josh Kopelman is an investor in Pando.)

Winner: First Round


Voting on this round ended yesterday, so we’ll see if CB Insights audience agreed in a few days… Then on to the finals.