Being an investor—particularly one in overvalued, bubbly tech startups—is perhaps America's easiest job. Don't believe me? Look at this guy:
Subject: RFP (Request for Prototype): Brutal Real Estate Reviews
I've invested in 70 companies.
To do this I have a secret process that involves nine full-time staffers that I'm not going to reveal right now. Perhaps when I hit 250 investments and I'm "done" (as in, 50 years old) I'll write a book about it.
Here's a little peek into the process: I generally meet with 10 startups a week during lunch and for coffee. This is absurdly efficient, as I need to eat lunch, I like to drink coffee and I don't like being alone.
Given that, I wind up investing in 30 of the 500+ companies I meet with per year — however, those 500 meetings are chosen from a pool of literally 5,000+ possible startups.
My team and my network narrow the 5,000 to 500 and I narrow it to 30. That means 10% of folks my team look at get to meet me in person and ~5% of those get funded.
Or, about 1 in 200 startups my team looks at gets funded.
Wildly efficient, yet I still find that some markets are not being addressed.
Given that, I'm going to start a new email feature: "RFP: Request for Prototype."
The rules are simple: build a prototype based on a business we think should exist in the world and if it's exceptional — and you're exceptional — we fund it. *
* Exceptional as defined by me.
Ten meetings a week! Get this man a chair, a warm towel, a pair of slippers, and a quaalude.
America's new captains of industry are apparently building our future one cup of coffee at a time. Whatever grunt work is required to track down potential investments is handled by Calacanis' "nine full-time staffers"—or if you're a partner at a large firm like Andreessen Horowitz, you have a small army of analysts doing the crunching for you.
This leaves Marc Andreessen and company to spend their days tweeting inanities, appearing at conferences, participating in magazine profiles, looking at photos of Teslas, and sexually harassing women, taking pauses only to write checks drawn from the money of others.
The best part is, you're expected to fuck up most of the time: everyone knows most investments go nowhere. Imagine a chef who's expected to cook only the occasional meal that won't give someone diarrhea that night.
VCs hunt the rare "unicorn" startup that'll provide a gigantic payout, giving them a pass for all the nonsense failures they also bet on, and fueling their reputation for the next several years. Diane Mulcahy nailed it in a recent Harvard Business Review blog post:
VCs are paid very well when they underperform. VCs have a great gig. They raise a fund, and lock in a minimum of 10 years of fixed, fee-based compensation. Three or four years later they raise a second fund, based largely on unrealized returns of the existing fund. Usually the subsequent fund is larger, so the VC locks in another 10 years of larger, fixed, fee-based compensation in addition to the remaining fees from the current fund. And so on. Assume it takes three or four funds for poor returns to start catching up with a VC firm. By then, investors have already paid for nearly two decades of high levels of fixed, fee-based compensation, regardless of investment returns. And the fee-based compensation isn't trivial – in all but the smallest funds, the partners make high six, and more often seven, figures in fixed cash compensation.
What other job not only allows, but expects you to be wrong most of the time? Weatherman? Science fiction author?