It was great to see Fred's post today about Airbnb. It's very refreshing to see a VC describe a "miss" in honest terms. Fred writes, in part:
"But we don't always get it right. We missed Airbnb even though we loved the team. Big mistake."
From my experience raising $1MM for AppMakr last fall, I quickly learned that "if it's not a yes, it's a no" meaning no matter what reason an investor gives you, unless it's a "yes" nothing else matters. And I heard many versions of "no" -- two investors gave me firm verbal "yes" commitments before changing their minds (one couldn't come up with the funds, and another said after doing more research on the market, he got cold feet. If you want to know who they were, please leave me a comment on the blog. I won't 'out' them publicly, but I will warn you privately if you request it, so you don't have to go through the same experience I went through). But far and away, the biggest reason for a "no" I heard was "we love the team, we're just not sure about the business." So, what Fred said about missing an opportunity because of the team really resonated with me.
To be clear, I also believe that the "we love the team" line is also an old investor standby line that many investors might use disingenuously to create a "soft no" situation for the entrepreneur. (That's a blog for another topic, but the fact that investors want to avoid burning bridges with entrepreneurs by giving soft no's is very misleading to the entrepreneur and not a good thing.) So while I don't know if VCs meant it when they said it to me, I did hear it a lot, and I do know that we have a helluva team and that will ensure our company's success.
And thanks, Fred, for being open and honest in your blog.