Investors who aren't announcing another $1.5 billion fund still have to get attention somehow, or they'll lose deal flow to the latest venture celebrity. Gil Dibner, a VC at DFJ Espirit, thought maybe a "VC Code of Conduct" might do the trick. But the 17 point promise inadvertently outlines all the ways investors will give founders a raw deal.
DFJ Espirit sounds like a French line of mid-market handbags, but it's actually a "Pan-European" fund and part of very loose network of funds associated with the more reputable DFJ proper. According to Dibner, this code of conduct was spurred by his travels around Europe:
I have met too many founders in London, Edinburgh, Berlin, Belgrade, and beyond that have been (pardon my Americanism) screwed by unscrupulous or unprofessional VCs or angels. In far too many of these cases, the situation is basically unrecoverable: the cap table, legal terms, and investor base of the company have become so toxic that no new investor will be likely to go through the pain of rescuing the situation – and things typically just unravel from there.
Pardon our Americanism, but that behavior sound like the same bullshit you hear about in the U.S. of A. Dibner describes his list in more detail at VentureBeat. But when you read this, just picture investors doing the exact opposite of everything he said:
I will do no harm.
I will respect your time.
I will not ask you for material I don't need.
I will not string you along.
I will let you know about any competitors in our portfolio.
I will be transparent about any conflicts of interest between an entrepreneur and myself.
I will not sign an NDA, but I will act as if a reasonable one is in place.
I will not share your slide deck or any material with anyone unless you give me permission.
I will not speak with your customers without your permission.
I will educate before I negotiate.
I will be honest about what standard terms are.
I will not issue a term sheet unless my firm has made a firm decision to invest.
I will reflect the term sheet in the final legals.
I will not seek an unreasonable equity stake in your business.
I will avoid surprises.
I will act in the best interests of the company at all times.
I promise to try not to look at my phone in meetings.
Sounds like a fair set of rules. Except for that phone in meetings thing. Isn't that what they were invented for?
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