The myth of ‘stage agnostic’ investing

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This week we were helmed by Kate Clark, Alex Wilhelm and yet another extra special guest. Unusual Ventures co-founder and partner John Vrionis joined us to talk soil investing (yes, it’s a thing), seed investing, growth investing and all the somewhat meaningless funding stages.

Vrionis was a longtime investor at Lightspeed Venture Partners and has made big bets on a number of companies, including AppDynamics, Heptio and MuleSoft.

It was a great episode that kicked off with some conversation around DoorDash, the food delivery company that continues to make headlines week after week. We’d like to stop talking about the company, but it intrudes regularly into our notes.

This time DoorDash bought a few companies, purchases that appear set to allow the firm to boost its investment and research into self-driving delivery robots. (Kate saw one in the wild recently!)

Next we went deep into the subject of seed. John, of course, has been a seed investor for years and has lots to say on the topic. Mostly, we discussed Kate’s latest piece on mega-funds making an increasing number of deals at the earliest stage. John doesn’t think “stage-agnostic” investing makes any sense. You need experts at each stage making bets on a specific type of company. In his words, “a heart surgeon wouldn’t deliver your baby, right.”

Then we moved on to one of our favorite subjects, namely direct listings, the IPO market and if money is too often left on the table. The question takes on extra import when we see results like Dynatrace’s IPO, which rose around 50% its first day. It seems likely that we’ll see other companies pursue the sort of direct listings that Spotify and Slack managed.

That segued us brilliantly into our final topic: Airbnb and its financial health. The firm, we reckon, is a good candidate for a direct listing itself. We talked over its numbers, and if we were to sum up our perspectives, we’d say that Airbnb is about as impressive as we expected.

All that and we had fun, as usual.

Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify, Pocket Casts, Downcast and all the casts.