While many people in the venture community bemoan the near-term fate of the industry, Fred Wilson, the co-founder of Union Square Ventures and one of the architects of the resurgence of New York’s technology sector, expressed nothing but confidence in the state of the industry and its prospects for the future.
“We’ve got plenty of capital and plenty of activity going on,” he said in a far-ranging discussion with TechCrunch’s own Jordan Crook. “It’s not like there’s a pullback. There’s a tendency to take a little less risk.”
Even if capital hasn’t dried up, Wilson did acknowledge that the times are changing for startups. These days companies shouldn’t get hung up on valuation, but rather take the money that’s on the table and “just make sure they get their companies funded,” Wilson said. “Focus on the fundamentals and that will result in getting a financing done.”
Beyond fundraising and the typical venture capital discussion, Wilson touched on the nature of the Union Square Ventures partnership and (when prompted by our moderator) its lack of diversity.
“It’s a tricky thing to add another partner to a team that hasn’t grown and would not grow,” said Wilson, even as he acknowledged that the firm could benefit from having a woman’s perspective at the table.
Focus on the fundamentals and that will result in getting a financing done. Fred Wilson, Union Square Ventures
As for investing, Wilson is bullish on the technology that’s captured the imagination and attention of most investors looking at what the future may bring. From the convergence of augmented reality and virtual reality, to drones, to artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles, Wilson likened tech’s progress to the stages of human development.
“If you think about the evolution of mankind… we’ve been able to get to higher order behavior and we’re going to continue on that march,” Wilson said.
However, that progress isn’t without its downside. Wilson acknowledged that in the short term technology could reduce the number of jobs that are available in the world. “In the short term there’s going to be less jobs,” said Wilson. “We could be 10 or 15 years into that rough patch.”
Beyond technology Wilson is looking ahead to his legacy, which in many ways is the New York startup scene itself — in part through his work with the new nonprofit organization Tech:NYC and through his nearly two decades as a venture investor.
“If I have to have a legacy then I think it would be helping the tech sector grow and develop in New York,” Wilson said. I don’t think anyone would argue.