Disrupt SF started off with a bang this morning with a fireside chat including Ron and Topher Conway, both investors with SV Angel. TechCrunch founder and CrunchFund investor Michael Arrington peppered them with questions about the landscape of Silicon Valley.
They know what they’re talking about, as SV Angel is currently investors in 26 “Unicorn” companies. They’ve been investing for six years and invest in about one new company every week. The elephant in the room was recognized by Arrington, asking the two investors: “Is there a bubble?” Topher Conway quickly replied “no,” to which Arrington brought up his relatively young age of 29. Neither Conway felt like the industry was entering bubble territory.
The discussion began about the stress involved in being a VC and how some investors are looking for a support group. Ron Conway feels like starting a company is more stressful than being an investor, saying the community should be supporting the companies and putting their own stress aside.
“The world is watching us,” said Arrington, saying that a lot of VCs spend a lot of time on Twitter talking about how great they are, and Topher Conway thinks that VCs should be in the background.
Topher continued: “We need to understand that tech founders are leading the next industrial revolution and investors should be honored that they get to be a part of it. They need to knuckle down and help the companies be successful.”
SV Angel raised a $75 million fund last summer, as it needed more capital to keep its ownership percentage up, Topher Conway explained. He also said that they’re not currently raising, but when they do, the fund will be about $40 million. Arrington pressed on why SV was going to go back to “old size rounds” and Topher said it’s about going back to its seed investing roots.
On the topic of Y Combinator, Topher Conway called the program “very important” as SV Angel invests in the cream of the crop from their classes. “Everyone copies Y Combinator’s application, because it’s so well thought through,” Ron Conway added, also calling them the “Stanford of accelerators.”
“Do you sit around and smoke cigars with Paul Graham and say “Hey, if you say I’m the best, I’ll say you’re the best”?” Arrington asked Ron Conway tongue-in-cheek. Reputation matters, and they’ve been working together for quite some time.
The conversation quickly switched over to a political one, as it tends to do when Ron Conway is onstage. He discussed the huge tech job boom and how it has affected housing:
San Francisco has a huge housing problem and the tech industry has a lot to do with the issue. Since 2011, over 100,000 tech jobs have been created in San Francisco alone. The bi-product of that is housing, Ed Lee has put an initiative called Prop A on the ballot.
He directed everyone to visit weupvote.us, vote and read up on how to get involved.