Venture capital is undeniably important, but it can have its down side. Part of the venture capitalist
's job is to nurture your company to fruition, which means an IPO
, an acquisition
, or long-term independent
success. This means the VC will demand a place on your board of directors
. Subsequently, they may feel the need to change your attitude
, or just kick you out.
I once saw Tim Draper, a very powerful Silicon Valley VC, brag about how he took Hotmail public. It was Draper's idea to put an ad at the bottom of every Hotmail message (you know, "Get your free e-mail at Hotmail" or whatever), but the founders balked because they considered it to be spam.
Draper was outraged. He pressured the Hotmail founders intensely until he'd pushed them into his way of thinking, an act he was fiercely proud of. The conclusion he drew in his speech was that in order to work with "these people" (his exact term), you had to snuff out their petty principles and make them realize that the money is all that counts.
I'm not taking him out of context. Draper is openly sneering and derisive of the ideals that get in the way of the money.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to make big money, and if that's your primary objective, the VCs are the way to go. And it is their money, after all. If they're funding your survival, they ought to have a say in what you do. Just be aware -- especially if you've got any non-monetary goals for your company, or any ideals you want to preserve -- that their interests trump yours. You just might find yourself body-checked into the gutter while your former buddies go for cocktails with Microsoft.
Even if your VC respects you, he/she can make life hard with stupid decisions, demanding that you "get the name out there" via premature vaporware press releases or unnecessarily costly trade-show booths. And then there are the vulture capitalists who just want to leech off of your hard work.
The price of venture capital is the control you once had over your company. Choose carefully.