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Typical revolving door for greedy old farts with delusion of relevance and expertise. Their idea of state of the art in search is attensity or other assorted crap like that. Better than the now defunct Angels' Forum -- which I observed closely -- they are there to entertain themselves, and waste your time.
They cannot even keep to their own timetable.
Private: 423 Chars
We raised our A round led by Amish and FirstMark. Due diligence is not for the faint of heart. You probably will not be examined this deeply by others even at B or C round. I have been through M&A due diligence and it was easier.
Amish will also beat you up on terms. He is a shark, this is his business, his team is no joke, and considering he sits on boards of 18 companies, he is better at this funding biz than you will be. Suit up, have a good fight on what really matters, and plan to make back what you were beat up on later down the road.
Now that A round is way behind us, I can tell you that his help, and that of his team, is worth it. He has "nose in hands out" style. He will ask a ton of questions, he will be right there to look at every detail of strategic decision and make sure you aren't missing anything. He will question your data, he will question your hypothesis, his right hand man David is at maniacal level with details. And I have learned to really appreciate it. Amish and his crew have immense impact on our business. He will push you to upgrade your skills daily, he will call you out on your BS, but the context of it all is why you need to grow thicker skin and bigger ears - he is a kingmaker. Look at his track record, it speaks for him.
Also, look at FM team. Not your usual viagra crowd. Everyone from associates to partners - top notch.
Also, come rain or shine or snow, he will be at your board meeting, he will come prepared, and for those couple hours your company is the only thing that exists for him and you have all of his attention, skills, and experience at your disposal. No answering of texts or emails, no taking phone calls, etc.
I do not think they exist anymore.
Most angel groups are revolving doors for the greedy people with the organizers making money. One of their angels Mike complained to me that he had lost $4M in investments. The more reputable ones that got suckered into joining -- former CEO of Rambus and former CFO of Maxim (I think), will not even list it on their Linkedin as an experience.
Carol Sands had a Halo Fund in parallel with Angels' Forum. She would invest the funds money in what the Angels' thought were the best deals, but would not tell them that she is also investing. Her background in entrepreneurship was None. Halo Fund's track record dismal. Last I look
PTV added Rick Anderson (not listed) six to eight years ago and he has made a significant difference. Very well connected and very knowledgeable of the medtech space.
Sach and Mike are top notch when it comes to assisting companies. They not only support companies from their first investments into them, but also help to ensure that there is a strategic path towards best opportunities for the company and employees involved. Although there was one poor comment written above, you should take that with a grain of salt, as this is a group that can help you scale with the right resource assistance when needed.
We went to them through a referral.
Though they started off slowly, they moved through diligence pretty quickly. Even early on, they mentioned that they would bring in a new CEO which seemed strange (as our CEO had gotten us thus far). Our founding team had discussed this issue earlier amongst ourselves and felt that we would bring in someone for a Series B or C. So, while we all (including our CEO) were OK with it, we felt it was rude as it was suggested early on without giving him a chance.
While we had Alpha customers in a particular vertical, one partner insisted that was a wrong market. Another partner (who was in that vertical) told us to ignore the first partner.
They went through a very detailed diligence and spoke with our customers and references. Their own network of CTO/CIOs seemed rather modest and it was not clear whether their network would be valuable.
While they claim to be "white space", this is completely FALSE. They are quite risk averse and the term sheet was designed to further minimize their risk.
They also explicitly tried to set one founder against another (asking him privately "Are you sure you have enough equity?").
They had some average EIRs who they seemed to want to push onto us. They seemed to position these pushes like suggestions, but their attempts were clumsy.
We did get a term sheet from them. We wanted a syndicate. Interestingly, many of the other VCs we talked to asked if they could bring in their own syndicate partner. To their credit, the term sheet did NOT have egregious terms). There were some issues that penalized the entrepreneurs too much and we negotiated on some of those.
While we got a term sheet and had initial agreement on most points, the deal did not go through. Their approach seemed sleazy. In fact, based on our conversations with the VC, our lawyer (from the largest bay area startup law firm) told us that the founders should not be surprised if they are fired to allow the VC to recoup some of the (founders') equity stakes.
Many of my experiences seem to mirror previous comments. I will not go to them again.
Private: 515 Chars
The behavior of Benchmark with Uber and Travis Kalanick is repressible, and no good entrepreneur should work with this firm. Someone needs to speak out. Leaving aside allegations of sexism within the company, a closer look at the "invisible hand" of Benchmark is needed.
Why did Benchark give Travis key Board allocations if he were so bad? Why did they orchestrate a maneuver to kick him out after his parents suffered a terrible accident? Why have they been meddling in day-to-day operations at the company? Why are they suing with defamatory and knowingly false allegations lifted from another lawsuit? Why are they tormenting other Board Members?
Travis himself may have the answer in a 2011 video, in which there is a slide titled, "VCs tend to kill founding CEOs:"
It's time that the true inside story gets told. The Board Members do not like Benchmark, and with good reason. Everyone is sitting on a diamond, and, like the scorpion and the frog parable, Benchmark had to kill the frog. It's in their nature.
Why did they kill the frog? There are three reasons:
1. Liquidity - Each Benchmark partner will make $250 MM to $500 MM on Uber. Tnis is more profit more than many of the founding engineers and executives. Any of the sexism scandals have delayed an IPO, so why not create turmoil to get bought out?
2. Liability - Bill Gurley is the first institutional investor. He was a close advisor and mentor. Lawyers at Benchmark warned that the fund may be liable for the actions within Uber. So, why not blame the CEO as you boot him out the door to shift the blame and the liability?
3. Bank Heist - Benchmark owns only 13% of the business. By removing Travis and opening the three Board Seats that he controls, this allows Benchmark to gain control of the business. If they can not get bought out at a high price by threatening other Board Members, then why not control one of the largest private companies in Silicon Valley and do as you please?
Abuse of power has returned to the world of venture capital, and Uber is the poster child of this new movement. Their Machiavellian schemes are reprehensible. Over the coming days, the story will start to come out. Chris Sacca is involved. False stories have been planted. It's ugly.
"A scorpion asks a frog to carry it across a river. The frog hesitates, afraid of being stung, but the scorpion argues that if it did so, they would both drown. Considering this, the frog agrees, but midway across the river the scorpion does indeed sting the frog, dooming them both. When the frog asks the scorpion why, the scorpion replies that it was in its nature to do so."
Private: 819 Chars