Good morning, All,
Not too long ago, there was a whole discussion about the rampant ageism that exists in our industry. We all know that it’s true on the hiring side, and Fred Wilson raised it again last week in a Business Insider interview, where he talked about the young VCs who are raising funds, many without the benefit of having had any hands-on experience at a startup or in the business world. Of course, there was a response, from Mike Rothenberg, who is a Lucky Sperm kid who went to Stanford and Harvard (why not?) and became a VC basically right out of HBS and note where his fund is investing – in the vertical he knows, which is basically twenty-somethings (he’s about to turn thirty, so yes, they do invest in thirty-somethings as well). He doesn’t discuss competencies or specific industry segments – just age and the advantages of the peer-to-peer network.
At #StartupColumbia, Alan Patricof, considered the father of venture capital, brought up the fact that, prior to VCs, it was the wealthy families who invested in new ventures – he mentioned Rockefellers, Whitneys and Phippses of the world. So it seems that the pendulum is swinging back, but this time it’s Tisch, Kushner, Rothenberg et al. The ground is not shifting, as Rothenberg claims: only the names have been changed to deceive the clueless. But they see it as a young man’s game and tend not to take a long view of things. Ah, history: boring. But what man cannot remember he is doomed to repeat.
Patricof also mentioned that he remembers when Xerox was founded – which was a bit of a stretch and he no doubt meant to say that he remembered when Xerox was synonymous with business. For a long time, they were, until they invited Steve Jobs and Bill Gates – separately – to the PARC research lab and the pair – separately – walked out with the future of Xerox, and computing. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: we’re still in the early days of the digital revolution and the companies that hold sway today may not be the household names of tomorrow. And for the record, the man (Ray Tomlinson) who came up with the @ sign was not a twenty-something, but he did change everything. The ground may not have shifted – but the earth moved. Onward and forward.