What did these firms do to get on TheFunded’s blacklist? Founder Adeo Ressi says there are three possible reasons: Suspicious activity suggesting the firms pressured chief executives in their portfolio to write or review them favorably, threatening a member of TheFunded with legal action, and failing to make new investments. (That final category draws from the list that PEHub’s Daniel Primack has put together of “the walking dead,” namely firms that are still in business but lack the money to invest in new startups.) The site has also added a mechanism allowing members to flag firms for the blacklist.
Let’s be clear here: This is TheFunded’s list, not ours. We don’t have access to the algorithm that Ressi uses (along with member complaints) to find VCs who are trying to “game” the site. But Ressi says he isn’t just throwing names out there — he’s checked and confirmed every complaint that came from a member, and looked into enough cases flagged by the algorithm to be confident that it works. And he showed me comments on the site from entrepreneurs saying they had been pressured to leave positive reviews.
The list is too long for me to contact each of the firms — at least if I wanted to get a post up tonight — but I reached out to a few to get some perspective. David Stern, a partner with Clearstone Venture Partners, said:
You have to take everything in context. Who is more valuable to the community — someone who flames firms and calls other members “shills,” anonymously, without having real context or experience with a firm, or someone who names themselves, makes themselves available to the community, and shares their detailed experiences with the firm, even if asked by a firm to post? Obviously a CEO that is asked to post is not going to say anything negative, but they’re providing valuable information and making themselves available to the community.
Meanwhile, Kate Castle, Flybridge Capital Partners‘ vice president of marketing, said Flybridge had never pressured its CEOs for a favorable review or rating: “We do not know why we would be placed on this list.”
Firms on the blacklist remain in TheFunded’s database; their profiles are flagged with prominent warnings. Those on the list for suspicious reviews will be cleared after 90 to 120 days, firms on the list for not investing can be cleared if they submit proof of an investment in the last four weeks, and those on the list for legal threats are removed from the blacklist 90 days after the last threat or the lawsuit being dropped.
Here’s the list, below the jump:
Alsop Louie Partners
Clearstone Venture Partners
Flybridge Capital partners
Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers
Milestone Venture Partners
US Venture Partners
VantagePoint Venture Partners
Lack of new investments
Appian Venture Partners
ArrowPath Venture Capital
CenterPoint Venture Partners
Hyperion Israel Venture Partners
Israel Seed Partners
Mercia Technology Seed Fund
Oxford Bioscience Partners
Sequel Venture Partners
Tamar Technology Ventures
Vanguard Venture Partners
Veritas Venture Partners
WorldView Technology Partners