Are Silicon Valley venture capitalists favouring psychopaths?

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JASON LEMKIN

Of course not, intentionally.

But …

Sort of, unintentionally.  VCs have to invest in simply crazy founders.  “Good” crazy.  Crazy folks who will do whatever it takes to build a Unicorn, not sell at $50m, not sell at $200m, keep going, even when logic 100 times will say otherwise.

I’m no psychiatrist, but my observations, some of this craziness may, in some cases, be correlated to somewhat psychopathic tendencies.

Many very successful founders (though not the ones I chose to work with):

  • “Often have disarming or even charming personalities.”
  • “Are very manipulative and can easily gain people’s trust”
  • “Learn to mimic emotions, despite their inability to actually feel them, and will appear normal to unsuspecting people.”
  • “Make excellent white-collar criminals and “con artists” due to their calm and charismatic natures”

from: How to Tell a Sociopath from a Psychopath

Some of the most driven, zero-sum founder CEOs I’ve met do meet these criteria.

It sort of works, especially when you have to recruit people along with you to do something totally crazy.

Semi-psychopaths in my experience can be amazing recruiters in the early and middle days.  They just make you believe.  Especially if you are someone that wants to believe.

Ordinary super-smart people often have a really hard time recruiting people to follow them before there’s proof.  Before you are Hot.  Psychopaths are good at it.

If you have some tendencies here and can also build sick software … it can be a successful combo.

At least, up to a point.

…..

And I will say this — I’ve yet to see VC partners pass on a deal because the CEO had psychopathic tendencies.  Rather … the opposite.

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Published on September 7, 2015
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