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Matt Cohler: I Hope Silicon Valley Doesn't Become Versailles

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I hope we’re not entering a world where Silicon Valley becomes Versailles

That was Matt Cohler speaking today at our TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco. Cohler, a partner at Benchmark Capital (and one of the original employees of Facebook), sat down with our own Mike Arrington to talk about the state of the venture capital industry.

Cohler made his provocative statement in the context of him talking about his concern that politics are coming too much into play behind the scenes in Silicon Valley these days. The whole “Super Angels versus VCs” thing is a part of this. He finds the debate over these terms silly — if you’re investing your own money, you’re an angel, if you’re investing someone else’s money, you’re a VC, is how he sees it. The so-called “Super Angels” are just micro-VCs, he said.

This whole behind-the-scenes back-and-forth — including AngelGate — worries Cohler. He’s concerned we’re entering a phase similar to 18th century France, where Louis the XV and his court sat inside Versailles and bickered while revolution happened outside the palace walls. Cohler noted it was a “poisonous environment” and he warned that Silicon Valley, with its less-literal walls, may be the new Versailles.

We need to get back to focusing on entrepreneurs,” Cohler said. It’s silly to think that innovation is dead — there’s just an aspiration problem. “People aren’t thinking big enough,” he said.

All that really matters is entrepreneurs building really great companies,” Cohler said.

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