Fred Wilson: Money Is Information, Like Bits, And We Want To Invest In Ways Of Moving It

Fred Wilson, legendary New York venture capitalist and partner at Union Square Ventures, is the latest VC to highlight his interest in startups that help move money, “an area that is still very much up for grabs,” in his opinion. “Money is information, like bits,” he said today, giving currency a spin that puts it in a continuum with the many blogging and content companies that his firm has invested in over the years. (That list has included Twitter, Tumblr, FeedBurner, and Disqus.)

Speaking on stage today and continuing on the e-commerce theme, Wilson added that he is also interested in more startups focused around marketplaces. Wilson is also an investor and board member at Etsy.

Two days into TC’s conference, bitcoin has been a buzzword that’s already come up more than once among the investors on stage. Yesterday, Chamath Palihapitiya of Social+Capital Partnership called bitcoin “Gold 2.0” as he described how he invests in bitcoins not just as an investor in startups, but as an individual. Earlier in the day, Chris Dixon at Andreessen Horowitz also said he plans on investing more in bitcoin startups.

Wilson described his interest as about the movement of money. “We’re interested in forms of currency and money,” Wilson said, highlighting in particular the way that there are still a lot of areas where companies can come in to bring down the costs of taking money from one place to the other. “If I’m sending you money, why should that cost me or anyone?” he asked.

Highlighting Dwolla, one company that focuses on this area, Wilson also mentioned that Square, Stripe and Braintree are three other companies he rates highly in this space, but he also said that money is “still very much up for grabs. There is way way more to do.”

On another monetary theme, Wilson today also reiterated his support of companies in his portfolio that were investment targets in pre-revenue phases, but are now moving into stages where they are starting to monetize. One of the big poster boys for this transition has been Foursquare, led by Dennis Crowley, which effectively spearheaded a new space in mobile with check-in services but has more recently been trying to convert that into an actual business, often with some very public attacks about how well that business is proceeding.

“I think Foursquare is doing great,” Wilson said today. “I think Dennis has gotten through the hardest thing you can do in a company, which is to turn a product into a business. That is difficult, and it reminds me of where Twitter was a few years ago. I think he’s gotten behind that now.”