Viva La Revolucion! AngelList goes into Hyperdrive

Viva La Revolucion !  As of this Monday, almost 2,000 of the 28,000 odd thousand startups currently present on Angellist will be able to start fundraising publicly.  At the same time, Angellist just announced (via a Dan Primack exclusive) a $24M round to help arm the rebels.  

Jobs, Syndicates, Invest Online.  I think we will look back at September 23 2013 as the day the Startup funding world really changed.

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Babak Nivi relaxing after a code sprint


My partner Jeff first got involved with Angellist's predecessor, VentureHacks (way back in the day, Angellist co-founder Nivi was a sort of hacker-in-residence at Seed Capital Partners, Jeff's previous fund).  

From the start, Nivi and Naval were like a couple of enraged and uber-talented Sandinistas intent on unshackling the founder population from the world of jargon and opaque deal making by helping them hack every aspect of fundraising and investment negotiation.  Some VentureHacks posts are today mentioned like religious scriptures by entrepreneurs, such as Nivi's 2007 Option Pool Shuffle.  What started as an advice site quickly morphed into, well, a list of Angels and finally, after a lot of work, into what we know today.

Marketplace liquidity 

Marketplace are not worth anything without liquidity.  As anyone who's ever attempted a marketplace knows, liquidity is VERY hard to build.  So check these simple metrics out:

  • Number of Startups : 28 thousand of which 6K in mobile, 4K in e-commerce.  
  • Number of People : 380 thousand of which 21K declare themselves to be investors, 31K entrepreneurs, 25K developers, 11K designers

Only 3K startups hail from San Francisco and the Bay Area, 2.2K from New York and 500 from Boston.  Angellist is global.

Profiles are not worth anything by themselves.  Over 4,000 companies listed on Angellist have closed funding for a total of $2.4bn.  Only a portion of that happened on the platform, of course.  

Prestigious alumni that initially gotmatched on Angellist include Uber, Wanelo or Leap Motion.  Not bad !

Screen Shot 2013 09 23 at 7 06 42 AMThe top of the investor list does not look half bad

Angellist as a New Product Factory

Disruptions start slowly then suddenly accelerate once they've hit critical mass.  The same can be said of platforms.

Angellist spent years building grassroots adoption, with the help of an incredibly talent and obsessed team of engineers and product people.  It paid almost no mind to what the outside world thought of it and focused almost purely on building a product that worked.  It also spent countless hours pushing for standardized docs, standardized profiles, standardized transaction terms, all of which are pre-requisites for moving from a custom market to a marketplace.  

Screen Shot 2013 09 23 at 7 20 44 AM
The first of many information products : valuation graphs

Now that the basics are in place, the rate of launch of new products and initiatives in staggering.

Recently Angellist added Jobs (a talent matching service, 1,900 companies currently hiring including BitTorrent, Kiip etc) after nailing the double blind intro problem in a very elegant way.  It followed with Syndicates (the ability for providers of money to co-invest in dynamically formed syndicates behind proven Angels) and Invest Online (the ability to, huh, raise money online ).   42 active companies on InvestOnline as of this morning, with already $12.5M raised including $5M for Outbox or $1.2M for DoubleRobotics.

Embrace Your Own Demise

When people ask me why we invested in Angellist, I always joke that one has to embrace one's own demise.  Nivi, Naval and team are on a mission to truly disrupt venture capital, to blow open the doors of fund structures, to allow money to follow smart money dynamically.  All of this could be threatening to the venture model.

On top of that, the company is fiercely independent.  Let's be clear : neither Google Ventures nor Atlas Venture led any around in Angellist.  No VC has a seat on the board.  Any amount of influence anyone has over the team is earned by trust and quality of advice.  Money is a tool for them to get Angellist to the next stage.

It's always important with Startups to understand the why.  Nivi wants to change the world with better tools and tranparency.  Naval wants to give founders their freedom back.  These guys are on a mission, and that big chip on the shoulder is making them run that much faster.

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Naval Ravikant in full war regalia

Viva La Revolucion!  Like Simon Bolivar, Naval will no doubt all entrepreneurs, engineers and designers to a world where they understand their own worth and control their own destinies.

PS yes i'm aware I mixed my revolutionaries.  Think of it as the Justice League.

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