Q: How arrogant are VCs in 2020?
I’m going to suggest VCs are less arrogant in 2020.
When I started my start-up career, VCs had all the leverage. Everything was so condescending, terms were Default Terrible, and raising money just took longer. Almost every pitch, every meeting, every dinner had a weird paternal-condescending element to it. You were the kid, and dad (yes, almost all men) knew best.
Over the last decade, things have gotten more and more founder-favorable each year in the 10+ year bull run. Deals happen faster (if they are hot), valuations have gone up, and while it is always hard to raise VC capital, there are just so many more firms. 800+ new seed firms since 2016, maybe more.
But most importantly, for the hottest deals, competition is at its highest point ever.
And — combine that with the fact that —
the top-performing VCs are now clear. Decacorns have made it clear who is a great investor, and who is a pretender. Who is just a talker. The difference between the top VCs and the next rung isn’t just a bit. It’s vast.
The fact that it’s now a bit clearer who is good at a tough job has removed at least a smidge of arrogance. You can’t walk around and pretend you are such an amazing VC anymore unless you have 3–4 Unicorns or a solid Decacorn on your LinkedIn. Well, you can, but everyone sees right through it.
And the intense competition for hot deals has made VCs at least think all the time about how to be more appealing to founders. To do podcasts. To do more outreach. To at least try to connect more. To get out there, at least a little more.
This hasn’t eliminated arrogance. But I do think it has reduced it.