VC firms grapple with generational change

Visit the venture capitalists on Sand Hill Road, and you’ll sense significant confusion about how to invest in the latest Internet technologies.

The old guard can’t keep up. Young, smart engineers are proposing ways to exploit the paradigm shift of Web 2.0, and it takes the younger, more curious venture capitalists to understand it all. One solution would be to promote more younger partners, but older VCs are only slightly less tenacious than Supreme Court justices — very slow to give up the perks of being a full partner, and the share of profits that status bestows.

Moreover, there’s the question of profile, and how a venture firm stays visible at a time when there are hundreds, if not thousands of wealthy angel investors running around seeding the more promising ideas.

There’s a story about Roger Lee (pictured here), 35, a venture capitalist at Battery Ventures, in the Mercury News today, which follows his efforts to promote the firm. It doesn’t delve into the generational shift mentioned above, but Lee’s quick rise in the firm reflects his own experience at founding Internet companies, including while he was still in college. Not covered in this story is how Lee made it to partner, even as many of his contemporary associates were let go.

One clarification on the story, which says Battery has seen two IPOs. There were three in the last twelve months: CBeyond, Optium and Omniture.

Also not mentioned: Lee was an angel investor in Friendster, the early, hot social networking company which was doing fine in those early days, but somehow lost direction around the time it took venture money from higher profile firms.

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