Dave McClure is a well-known investor through the Founders Fund’s angel program and its joint Facebook fund with Accel, as well as his own investments. Now it looks like McClure’s about to ramp up his activity by raising a new $30 million fund under the name 500 Startups.
The just-gone-live 500 Startups site doesn’t contain any real information. However, TechCrunch found some information through a logo contest listing for the new fund. The listing describes 500 Startups as “a new, edgy, risk taking seed fund” and portrays its founder (unnamed in the listing, but it’s clearly McClure) as someone who “likes to swear. In public. A lot. Think Ari Gold, but for tech companies and without a suit.”
McClure also published a long post today on his Master of 500 Hats blog (now you know where the firm’s name comes from) about his investment philosophy. There’s no specific reference to a new firm or fund, but it seems like a mission statement for McClure’s plans. Here’s how he describes his investment thesis:
Invest BEFORE product/market fit, measure/test to see if the team is finding it, and if so, then exercise your pro-rata follow-on investment opportunity AFTER they have achieved product/market fit. It’s sort of like counting cards at the blackjack table while betting low, then when you’re more than halfway thru the deck and you see it’s loaded with face cards & ten, then you start increasing your betting & doubling-down.
McClure also offered some blunt criticism of “most consumer VCs,” who he said have “no goddamn clue what they are doing.” He added:
HURRY UP & DIE ALREADY, U FRIGGIN’ PATHETIC DINOSAURS.
indeed: most VCs are Dinosaurs, and the World Wide Web is an Asteroid that hit the planet in a slow-motion cataclysmic explosion 15 years ago. It may take another 5 years for the ash clouds & nuclear winter of Browsers, Search Engines, Social Networks, & Mobile Devices to kill all the T-Rexes, but it’s a done deal. The marsupials are taking over, and in 2015 there will be a lot more investors that look like Jeff Clavier, First Round Capital, Y-Combinator, TechStars, Betaworks, & Founder Collective than any Sand Hill VC (funny how all the innovation is from non-valley investors, isn’t it?).
McClure’s approach has its critics. Glenn Kelman, chief executive of real estate startup Redfin, wrote that McClure would have refused to invest in Redfin, because “he is a seed investor who wants to stake only a little money and get a lot back in a very short time-frame.” That’s an okay approach, Kelman said, but “it’s not the only approach.”