“The difference between a ‘super angel’ and a VC is like making love with a lover versus making love with the government.”
That was angel investor Yossi Vardi describing what he sees as the difference between the so-called “super angels” and traditional venture capitalists. “The angels are much more accommodating to the founders,” is how he clarified that a bit.
This was the main topic of discussion during our “Super Angels To Super VCs” panel at TechCrunch Disrupt today — well, the main topic aside from AngelGate.
But Vardi’s opinion wasn’t shared by all the other panelists. Roelof Botha (a VC with Sequoia), for example, said that he doesn’t see the two sides as being all that different. To him, regardless of the size of the fund they have, it’s all about the value proposition — about what they offer entrepreneurs, he noted.
Angel investor Dave McClure disagreed. He noted that the targets of VCs and super angels are different. He said that VCs are looking for billion dollar exits, angels are often happy with $50 million exits.
Mike (who was moderating) asked if that smaller exit strategy was the right mentality — shouldn’t this still be all about changing the world, he wondered? “No, absolutely not,” McClure said. He noted that while that mentality is great in a lot of cases, in some cases, building smaller, more niche products is necessary too. “It’s not a bad thing to be building a small mousetrap,” McClure said.
Angel Ron Conway said that it was still all just fundamentally about investing in the entrepreneur. A great entrepreneur, he believes, isn’t immediately thinking about an exit. “A great entrepreneur doesn’t talk about those things,” he said.
Angel Chris Sacca chimed in, noting that people do get rich with $20 million exits too. Vardi continued that these types of exists are fine, but it’s all about how much risk you’re willing to take.
Conway brought it back to the fundamental question. “I think super angels versus VCs is a bunch of confusion. Super angels are just small VCs,” Conway concluded. “That’s absolutely not true,” McClure countered, noting that they have people like designers on staff, whereas VCs don’t.
But Conway said that many of the super angel funds now have the same backers as big VCs. “Little VCs are now just called super angels,” Conway reiterated. He said that all that matters is the partners in these firms. “It should be all about the entrepreneurs and what they want. All these names are bullshit,” Conway concluded.
Okay then, agree to disagree, I guess.
Continuing live coverage can be found at our day one omnibus post. Don’t forget to tag your disrupt-related posts and media with #tcdisrupt!