Felix Salmon

The most expensive lottery ticket in the world

April 21, 2014

No Exit, the new book from Gideon Lewis-Kraus, should be required reading for anybody who thinks it might be a good idea to found a startup in Silicon Valley. It shows just how miserable the startup founder’s life is, and raises the question of why anybody would voluntarily subject themselves to such a thing.

Art, venture capital, and down-round phobia

July 16, 2013

Ben Horowitz has a great guide to the dreaded “down round” today — that unloved point in the evolution of a venture-backed technology company when it’s forced to raise money at a lower valuation than it received in previous rounds. Certainly, such things shouldn’t be unexpected. As he explains:

Snapchat’s early cash-out

June 26, 2013

Dan Primack is awesome when he’s angry, and boy is he angry today, reacting to the news that Snapchat’s two co-founders have cashed out to the tune of $10 million apiece as part of its latest funding round. “This is desperate lunacy,” he writes, adding that these kind of deals “should scare the hell out of venture capitalists”:

Why VC-backed firms can’t stay private

December 17, 2012

Talking of VCs who don’t like it when founders decide to sell, here’s Marc Andreessen on the subject of the $1.26 billion sale of one of his portfolio companies, Nicira:

Instagram and the risk of selling low

December 17, 2012

Nick Bilton’s column about the Instagram fairness hearing is annoying on a number of levels. When I mentioned one of them this morning, Dave Winer asked for “a brief post” explaining a bit more. OK then!

Why going public sucks: it’s not governance issues

July 17, 2012

Marc Andreessen agrees with me that it sucks to be a public company. But he disagrees on the reasons why:

How venture capital is broken

May 7, 2012

I read quite a lot of papers about finance and investing, but I can’t remember the last time I came across a 52-page paper which I simply devoured, avidly, reading every word, and even following the footnotes. But such is the latest publication from the Kauffman Foundation, a truly wonderful report on the foundation’s own experiences in the world of venture-capital investing. This is required reading for all institutional investors with any kind of exposure to VC, and I sincerely hope that it succeeds, at least at the margin, in forcing those institutional investors to behave a bit more like investors, and a bit less like chumps being bullied into throwing millions of dollars into a series of opaque black boxes delivering decidedly subpar returns.

Why dividend cash-outs are evil

October 2, 2011

Investor Chamath Palihapitiya wrote a strongly-worded letter to Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky yesterday, which promptly got leaked to Kara Swisher.

Skype’s options plan and Silicon Valley norms

July 7, 2011

Steven Davidoff has published two recent columns on l’affaire Skype. The first takes a familiar position: that Silver Lake isn’t evil, it’s just a private-equity shop. I would however take issue with this: