AngelList Is a Popularity Contest and Kevin Rose Is Winning
Last week, as part of the JOBS Act, the federal government lifted its ban on general solicitation. Startups can now tell anyone they're seeking investment and accept funds from any accredited investors. No one is having more fun with this than AngelList.
In fact, the biggest beneficiary to the change in rules might be Naval Ravikant, AngelList's "hustling" cofounder. In a blog post on TechCrunch, Ravikant pimped AngelList as an easy way for startups to make sure potential investors were accredited. (Under general solicitation, startups can no longer take an investor's word for being accredited.)
AngelList also benefits from the fact that it's been experimenting with "Syndicates" for awhile. The same day the new rules went into effect, AngelList announced that it had raised $24 million and published an explainer about how syndicates benefit everyone (except traditional VCs)! As Startup Jackson said when Syndicates was still in beta:
And did I mention, AngelList takes a cut of the carry? Well played Naval. Well. Fucking. Played.
But AngelList also has another way to feed off the SEC's looser regulations: a program, also launched last Monday, called "Backers" that lets angel investors raise money before they've even identified a startup to invest in. Accredited investors hand over their money betting solely on an investor's overall ability to pick a winner and AngelList takes 5 percent of that too. TechCrunch delineated the difference:
With syndicates, follow-on investors are basically betting on a lead angel’s judgment in a specific company.
But with backers, they’re betting on the lead angel’s overall investment judgment.
In a system that values an investor's ability to publicly "hype" a startup, it doesn't even really matter which startup. The early numbers AngelList shared with TechCrunch show that the site has been able to drum up interest incredibly fast.
Co-founder of AngelList Naval Ravikant says that number of backers joining syndicates really increased over the weekend–in fact, the demand was overwhelming. He says 45 Syndicate leads have some backers for future deals (basically 45 mini-seed funds have been formed). Adding to this, 195 Angels have “activated” syndication, implying that they would accept backing, and there are now 484 unique backers on the site.
Backers can back Syndicate leads, even without a startup that the lead has committed to investing in. So far there has been $5.6 million committed to leads from backers. We’re told all of this capital is committed for each syndicate lead’s first deal (As a backer, you are committing an amount to every future deal made by the Syndicate Lead until you stop backing them). And almost all of this activity took place over the weekend.
To gamify investing in startups a little more, there's even a leaderboard ranking "Backers." But before you can get to that, AngelList shows a message urging investors to act fast, or miss out.
Many syndicates quickly become oversubscribed. Find investors you like and back all their future syndicates. Backers get guaranteed access.
Earlier this afternoon, Dave Morin had the lead, but now it looks like Kevin Rose has pulled ahead. Hurry, while there's still some Morin to go around.
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