Entrepreneur and investor Jason Calacanis offered an exquisite example of the dangers created by loosening the rules around crowd-funding. During a PandoMonthly fireside chat last night, Calacanis not only argued that any consumer knows how to pick a winning startups, but that the populist thing to do is to let the masses bet on them.
People are gambling in Vegas and blowing their money. So this idea that – again, having been on the other side of it — the poor and the middle class don't have a lot of opportunities to hit a homerun. So now we finally have an opportunity to possibly hitting a homerun and people are worried about them? They're trying to exclude them?
But they're not excluded from Vegas. They're not excluded from betting their football pool. They can buy drugs or alcohol or gamble. They should have the freedom to angel invest with their money.
The thing is, consumers knew Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn were hits. They knew it, because they used the products. And it's probably clear to the person who used ZenDesk or Box or Dropbox in year one that those were going to be hits too.
Considering the number of retail investors who got screwed during the Facebook IPO while insiders made out like bandits that seems like a far-fetched conclusion. Should everyone that played Words with Friends have invested in Zynga? I've wasted scads of money playing Candy Crush, does that mean King.com won't be the next Zynga?
So why would Calacanis, a self-professed poker addict who once blew more than $200,000 on single hand, encourage average Joes to invest in startups? Well, it sure wouldn't hurt the super secure process of gathering backers for an AngelList syndicate.
Now, thanks to a few hundred of his (not necessarily) closest friends, Jason is managing a $10 million early stage fund, founded with Yammer founder David Sachs, and leading a AngelList investment syndicate that consists of 234 backers pledging to contribute up to $905,000 to each of his deals – the fourth largest such Syndicate on the platform.
"All of a sudden my syndicate grew to $900,000, Kevin Rose's grew to to $2.5 million, and Dave Morin's is at $1.5 million – it's just become this incredible thing," Calacanis says. He was quick to qualify those numbers, however, saying, "maybe half that money will show up or a third of that money will show up on an individual deal basis."
Step down, folks. Let the nice men play games with your money.