I’ve recently become a member of the Sand Hill Angels. Angel investors, by definition, invest their own money in early-stage start-ups. In contrast, venture capitalists generally invest other people’s money in addition to their own, and often invest in companies that are better-established than those which angels fund. To quote the web site, SHA is “a group of successful Silicon Valley executives and accredited investors.”
(Hey, one out of two ain’t bad.)
Frankly, I expect to lose everything I invest. After all, angel investing is inherently risky; I’ll be backing companies with unproven products, little or no revenue, and limited resources. If I do make any money, I won’t make it quickly; it generally takes years for companies to reach the point where angel investment becomes liquid. And, these are the risks all angel investors face. I have the special privilege of a complete lack of experience in start-up investing.
So, why do I think that my decision to join this group is going to pay off?
My lovely wife Beth was a Women’s Studies major as a Harvard undergraduate. (Except that because Harvard has special words for things, they called it a “concentration” rather than a “major”, and because Beth is a woman, they sometimes — but only sometimes — called it “Radcliffe” instead of “Harvard.” But I digress…)
Beth, drawing on her education, has been known to point out that there’s a lot of romantic language in business. Acquisitions are referred to as “marriages” while companies that are looking to be acquired often “pretty themselves up.” The sales cycle is a “mating dance.” When the purchase order is issued the deal has been “consummated.” Companies that partner are “getting into bed together” and if it doesn’t work out there can be an “ugly breakup.” These metaphors may be the product of male-dominated boardrooms, but they are evocative — and generally accurate.
I’ve always been proud to be a one-woman man. And, yet, here I find myself attracted to both the mysterious, alluring, fashionista and also to the friendly, easy-to-like, girl in blue jeans. Can I date them both?