19 June 2013

An Open Letter to the Venture Capital Community

Every day since the first of my Don't Be a Fucking Douchebag series was posted, folks have asked me what my plan is to change the increasingly douche-y culture of the startup ecosystem.

Now... to be clear, I don't believe there is any way to turn back now. The past is the past - we cannot return (no matter how hard some politicians might try). I do, however, believe that we can affect the direction we are heading. We might not be able to return to the past - but we can impact where we end up in the future.

In looking at how we got to this awful place, it's pretty clear that one of the easiest ways to impact behavior is going to be through the investors. The big pots of money out here attracted stacks of asshats. And some of them were successful - but even if not successful they were not punished for their general douchebaggery.

And entrepreneurs noticed.
And aped these behaviors - knowing there was no downside.

So how do we change our course?

By punishing startup douchebags.

And how do we punish startup douchebags?

By denying them money.

Because these douchebags are like dung beetles... take away the shit they crave and they'll go somewhere else, looking for another source.

So this is my plea to those investing in technology startups in general - and to Venture Capitalists in particular.

Please stop giving money to douchebags.

Listen... I know you're under pressure from the LPs, and that they only care about returns.
But do you REALLY want to be on a BOD with these fuckers? Life is pretty damn short for that...
I know a lot of you talk about pushing a "no assholes" rule for your portfolio companies. How about you apply this to your own investment decision-making?

And here's the thing... if you stop giving the true douchebags money, the "followers" will stop emulating them. Because you won't be funding the assholes. Which means you'll be dealing with fewer douchebags - while still seeing comparable dealflow.

And at night you'll go home knowing that you've done a little bit to help the world.
You've done a little bit to stem the tide.
And if you do your part - I think it's gonna be that first domino.

We can do this - and YOU can lead us.


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