Friday, April 27, 2007

Aim High!

"Shoot for the moon, and even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."
I have found this to be true time and again. When I aim high, I don't always achieve the level of success I am shooting for, but I always achieve a far greater level of success than I'd previously imagined possible. For example, I applied to a couple of investment banking firms for a summer project. They did not offer me any decent project [aah...the impediments of being an undergraduate :-( ] but I got a call from MDI, Gurgaon! I will be the first ever undergraduate to do a summer project at a premier Indian B-school. So although I missed the moon, I landed among the stars.

The power of setting goals....the power of aiming high is tremendous. The sky really is the limit!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Financial Values for Kids!

I happened to read an article (Raise a money-smart kid) which reiterates the fact that the process of relating to our money begins from a very young age. Like all other things, how we see our parents relate to money will have an effect on how we relate to it. All parents want their children to appreciate the value of money and to understand it from a young age, so that as they grow older, they make better finance related decisions.
Here are some tips from the article:
  • When children ask for something that you do not want to purchase, don’t just say no or tell them we don’t have money. Explain to them why you are choosing not to spend your money on that particular item.
  • Give an allowance and create a spending plan with their money. For example, a portion of the money goes into a savings jar, a portion goes into a spend jar and a portion goes into a giving jar.
  • Invite kids into the account balancing activities.
  • Teach kids how much things cost.
  • When you find yourself making an impulsive purchase, explain that to your kids.
  • Have open communications at home regarding money. Being secretive and stressed will be passed on to children

PS: This is not a parenting blog ;-) Just happened to like this article.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Microsoft Silverlight - Flash Killer?

Microsoft Silverlight is a cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for delivering the next generation of media experiences and rich interactive applications (RIAs) for the Web. It integrates with existing Web applications and, of course, almost all Web technologies you are already using like Ajax.NET Professional or ASP.NET in common.

Read this article by Tim for more info.

And here's what the critics have to say -
Flash killer my ass ;-) I'm sure it'll have a few neat and useful features, a bunch of poorly implemented features, and a whole bunch of half-assed Flash rip-offs. Bottom line, it'll find a place with .NET guys who don't have a Flash background and probably a few other groups of people. But a Flash killer? Come on.... And that's not a comment aimed at your use of the term Flash Killer, Aaron. I know that's a term that's been thrown around about this since the world got wind of it. It's such a Microsoft idea. Replace rather than do something that hasn't been done. Like I said, it'll have it's place but to think any of us are going to switch over...

Monday, April 23, 2007

XP --> Vista --> Vienna ?

Windows Vista may well be on its way out. Reports from PCWorld suggest that Vista's successor, Vienna, is due in 2009 (just two years from now!). Actually, Vista was expected to release by 2003, but that didn’t happen. Microsoft was forced to put more work on developing Windows XP SP2 rather than giving time to Vista. Finally, Vista ended up losing features like WinFS, native HD DVD, FireWire-B support, enhanced speech recognition and PC-to-PC sync. Vienna will hae it all and it might just include a brand new file system and a new user interface which eliminates start menu and toolbars.

I believe the probability of Vienna releasing in '09 is very low. If it is really true, then upgrading to Vista doesn’t make any sense to me.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Smart Investment Questions

Continuing with our series of "Investment Thinking", here's a list of questions that you should ask yourself before making an investment:

1. Do you believe in the business the company is in?

2. Does the sector have growth potential?

3. Are you sure you want to be part of it?

4. Are you willing to stay in for the long haul?

5. Are you willing to not get perturbed by temporary price setbacks?

If you have answered yes to all the questions, you are on your way to making a smart investment!


Just when I thought I knew all of Life's answers.........They changed all the questions..

Thursday, April 19, 2007

"The Travails of Single South Indian Men"

A great piece on why typical South Indian men don't get any girls in town. Itz zimblee Hilarious ;-)

Yet another action packed weekend in Mumbai, full of fun, frolic and introspection. I have learnt many things. For example having money when none of your friends have any is as good as not having any. And after spending much time in movie theatres, cafes and restaurants I have gathered many insights into the endless monotony that is the love life of south Indian men. What I have unearthed is most disheartening. Disheartening because comprehension of these truths will not change our status anytime soon. However there is also cause for joy. We never stood a chance anyway. What loads the dice against virile, gallant, well educated, good looking, sincere mallus and tams? (Kandus were once among us, but Bangalore has changed all that.

Our futures are shot to hell as soon as our parents bestow upon us names that are anything but alluring. I cannot imagine a more foolproof way of making sure the child remains single till classified advertisements or that maternal uncle in San Francisco thinks otherwise. Name him "Parthasarathy Venkatachalapthy" and his inherent capability to combat celibacy is obliterated before he could even talk. He will grow to be known as Partha. Before he knows, his smart, seductively named northy classmates start calling him Paratha. No woman in their right minds will go anyway near poor Parthasarathy. His investment banking job doesn't help either. His employer loves him though. He has no personal life you see. By this time the Sanjay Singhs and Bobby Khans from his class have small businesses of their own and spend 60% of their lives in discos and pubs. The remaining 40% is spent coochicooing with leather and denim clad muses in their penthouse flats on Nepean Sea Road. Business is safely in the hands of the Mallu manager. After all with a name like Blossom Babykutty he cant use his 30000 salary anywhere. Blossom gave up on society when in school they automatically enrolled him for Cookery Classes. Along with all the girls.

Yes my dear reader, nomenclature is the first nail in a coffin of neglect and hormonal pandemonium. In a kinder world they would just name the poor southern male child and throw him off the balcony. "Yes appa we have named him Goundamani..." THUD. Life would have been less kinder to him anyway. If all the women the Upadhyays, Kumars, Pintos and, god forbid, the Sens and Roys in the world have met were distributed amongst the Arunkumars, Vadukuts and Chandramogans we would all be merry casanovas with 3 to 4 pretty things at each arm. But alas it is not to be. Of course the south Indian women have no such issues. They have names which are like sweet poetry to the ravenous northie hormone tanks. Picture this: "Welcome, and this is my family. This is my daughter Poorni (what a sweet name!!) and my son Ponnalagusamy (er.. hello..).." Cyanide would not be fast enough for poor Samy. Nothing Samy does will help him. He can pump iron, drive fast cars and wear snazzy clothes, but against a braindead dude called Arjun Singhania he has as much chance of getting any as a Benedictine Monk in a Saharan Seminary.

Couple this with the other failures that have plagued our existence. Any attempt at spiking hair with gel fails miserably. In an hour I have a crown of greasy, smelly fibrous mush. My night ends there. However the northy just has to scream "Wakaw!!!" and you have to peel the women off him to let him breathe. In a disco while we can manage the medium hip shake with neck curls, once the Bhangra starts pumping we are as fluid as cement and gravel in a mixer. Karan Kapoor or Jatin Thapar in the low cut jeans with chaddi strap showing and see through shirt throws his elbows perfectly, the cynosure of all attention. The women love a man who digs pasta and fondue. But why do they not see the simple pleasures of curd rice and coconut chutney? When poor Senthilnathan opens his tiffin box in the office lunch room his female coworkers just dissappear when they see the tamarind rice and poppadums. The have all rematerialised around Bobby Singh who has ordered in Pizza and Garlic bread. (And they have the gall to talk of foreign origin.

How can a man like me brought up in roomy lungis and oversized polyester shirts ever walk the walk in painted on jeans (that makes a big impression) and neon yellow rib hugging t shirts? All I can do is don my worn "comfort fit" jeans and floral shirt. Which is pretty low on the "Look at me lady" scale, just above fig leaf skirt and feather headgear a la caveman, and a mite below Khakhi Shirt over a red t shirt and baggy khakhi pants and white trainers a la Rajni in "Badsha".

Sociologically too the tam or mallu man is severely sidelined. An average tam stud stays in a house with, on average, three grandparents, three sets of uncles and aunts, and over 10 children. Not the ideal atmosphere for some intimacy and some full throated "WHOSE YOUR DADDY!!!" at the 3 in the morning. The mallu guy of course is almost always in the gulf working alone on some onshore oil rig in the desert. Rheumatic elbows me thinks.

Alas dear friends we are not just meant to set the nights on fire. We are just not built to be "The Ladies Man". The black man has hip hop, the white man has rock, the southie guy only has idlis and tomato rasam or an NRI account in South Indian Bank Ernakulam Branch. Alas as our destiny was determined in one fell swoop by our nomenclature, so will our future be. A nice arranged little love story. But the agony of course does not end there. On the first night, as the stud sits on his bed finally within touching distance and whispers his sweet desires into her delectable ear, she blushes, turns around and whispers back "But amma has said only on second saturdays..." In one last effort here we attractive young men have taken on alter egos which may interest some of you women: 1. Gautam Kumar Raja, will now be known as Joshua Perreira 2. Sidin Sunny Vadukut, henceforth will be known as Dev Chopra 3. Ashwath Venkataraman is now Vijay Desai 4. Sudarshan Ramakrishnan no more, from now he is Barath Sharma 5. Gautam Chandrasekharan will now respond to Alyque Shah Do mail me any time for a meeting with one of the above. One week notice if Italian or Chinese food is involved, or if the individual is expected to dance.

PS: Not written by me! so please dont flame me :p

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

When to Say No to an IPO

Are you planning to invest in an IPO either because you are getting the shares at par value or because the company you are investing in is sound and stable? WAIT!! Play safe and ensure you are not duped.

Par value is the face value of the share. This par value is arrived at through an accounting decision and bears no relation to either the intrinsic value of the company or how the public view the company. For example, XYZ Co. share has a par value of Rs 5, but it's market price could be around Rs 3,000 per share. When the share is traded in the stock market, however, this value may go up or down depending on the supply of and demand for the stock. If everyone wants to buy the shares, the price will go up. If nobody wants to buy them, and/ or many want to sell them, the price will fall. This price is referred to as the market price. A share with a face value of Rs 10 may be quoted at Rs 55 (market price higher than the face value) or even Rs 9 (market price lower than the face value).

The fact that you are getting shares at par value is no guarantee that the company is going to do well and you are going to rake in big bucks. Often, most companies come out with shares that are at a premium to their face value. Those that come with shares at face value seem to appear more alluring.

Some companies whose shares are already available for trading come out with a fresh lot of shares. This is referred to as a new issue or a Follow-on Public Issue (FPO). A common bait investors fall for is the fact that the price of the new issue is cheaper than the current market price. For example, the current market share may be Rs 100, while the FPO may be offered at Rs 90.

Don't let this be the only reason you buy those shares. Sometimes, the prices of the stock may get manipulated in the market to keep the prices high before a new issue is announced. So, while you think you are getting a good deal because the shares are available at a discount to the market price, the reality is that the market price has been artificially hyped up because of manipulation by brokers.

A share that is being oversubscribed does not mean it's a good investment for you. The process is that investors have to bid for shares in an IPO. When the bids exceed the number of shares, the issue is said to be oversubscribed. There could be a number of reasons why this happens.It could be that many banks and financial institutions are liberally offering loans to apply for the issue. This could result in oversubscription. Also, institutional investors (as against retail investors like you and me) don't have to put up money upfront when they make their bids. That means they can put in any amount of bids, hoping that the resulting hype about oversubscription will lure more investors.

At the same time, just because you are investing in a sound and stable company, it does not mean you have to pay a very high price for it. It would be a futile investment if the company was excellent but the price of the issue was sky high.

So think about these issues next time you go shopping (IPO shopping that is ;-) )

Monday, April 16, 2007

When to Say Yes to an IPO

When the stock market is on fire, everybody seems to be making money on IPOs. You buy an IPO for a simple reason: you get it cheaper. Often, companies come out with a cheaper issue price. An issue price is the price at which you can buy a share when you apply for an IPO. When the shares are listed on the stock exchange and are available for trading, the price generally rises.

Take, for example, the Jet Airways IPO. It had an issue price of Rs 1,100 per share. On March 14, 2005, the day it was listed and made available for trading, the price rose to a high of Rs 1,339. In just a few weeks, you would have made a profit of more than Rs 200 per share.

So, besides getting the shares cheaper, those who want to make a quick buck sell it soon after it is listed. Within a short span of a few weeks, they make a neat profit.

This is the reason why investors flock to IPOs.

It is not mandatory that the price of the stock rises on listing. There could be instances where it does not. Much depends on the timing of your sale. The price may rise on listing, but you may hold on for just a few days longer and it could slump. Those who invested in the Jet Airways IPO at Rs 1,100 per share were thrilled as the share price kept rising. Soon after listing (as we mentioned above), the price rose. On March 14, 2005, it was Rs 1,339 per share and rose to Rs 1,361 per share on June 1, 2005. However, after that, it has generally been going downhill. On December 6, 2005 it touched Rs 1,269; on January 6, 2006, it was Rs 1,148. On February 3, 2006, it was Rs 983.Those who did not sell at the initial levels would be rather dismayed.

The best reason to invest in an IPO is because you believe in the company and are willing to hold on to the shares for the long term. Often, companies that are going public offer their shares cheap and go on to become very successful. An IPO thus offer investors the chance to participate in the company's potential prosperity.While the chief attraction may be making a profit the moment the price of the share rises, don't let it be the only one.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Asset Allocation for Dummies

Asset allocation is dividing and allocating your money (or investable assets) among different asset classes. For example, asset allocation may be as simple as dividing your money equally among stock index funds and bonds or dividing it among large-caps, mid-caps, and small caps. An asset allocation plan (also known as an investment plan) is important because without an investment plan, people tend to buy what they shouldn’t buy! I know a lot of people who invest their savings in the fund that performed the best last year. The chances of that fund performing better this year are pretty slim.

The importance of asset allocation can be best understood with the help of an example. Suppose I invest in the following manner according to my asset allocation plan:

25% or Rs. 25,000 - Large-Cap fund
25% or Rs. 25,000 - Mid-Cap fund
25% or Rs. 25,000 - Small-Cap fund
25% or Rs. 25,000 - Bond fund

Let’s say the different funds had the following rates of return this year:

Year I
+10% - Large-Cap fund
+08% - Mid-Cap fund
+15% - Small-Cap fund
-02% - Bond fund

My portfolio would look like this:

The formula for calculating return for one year is:
Beginning Amount * (1 + the rate of return )
25,000 * 1.10 = 27,500 Large-Cap fund
25,000 * 1.08 = 27,000 Mid-Cap fund
25,000 * 1.15 = 28,750 Small-Cap fund
25,000 * 0.98 = 24,500 Bond fund

Total Portfolio value at end of Year I = 107,750 or a 7.75% rate of return.
Most people would probably want to sell all of their bond fund and put it all in the small-cap fund. That’s human nature. Nobody likes to hold an investment that seems to be losing money. However, suppose the next year, the fund’s returns were like this:

Year II

- 05% - Large-Cap fund
+03% - Mid-Cap fund
- 20% - Small-Cap fund
+05% - Bond fund

At the end of Year II, the portfolio would like this:

27,500 * 0.95 = 26,125 Large-Cap fund
27,000 * 1.03 = 27,810 Mid-Cap fund
53,250 * 0.80 = 42,600 Small-Cap fund

The portfolio would be worth Rs. 96,535 (one year LOSS of 10.41%!)

Finally, had this person stuck with his asset allocation plan and reallocated 25% to each of the 4 funds, he would have had a loss of only 4.25% instead of 10.41%:

26,937 * 0.95 = 25,950 Large-Cap fund
26,937 * 1.03 = 27,810 Mid-Cap fund
26,937 * 0.80 = 21,550 Small-Cap fund
26,937 * 1.05 = 28,284 Bond fund

The portfolio would be worth Rs. 103,170 (one year loss of 4.25% which is MUCH better than the 10.41% loss)

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Specialized Knowledge = Dirt Cheap

An advise - Whenever you need something done requiring specialized knowledge or skill, go to a college campus. There are thousands of students and professors who have the knowledge you seek (such as programming, web design or anything else) and will do your work for free (well...almost for free).

Just put up a poster/notice inviting students/teachers to do your work. "You will get Rs. 2000 + a valuable certificate on the spot if you do (insert specialized task here) for our company" and trust me, you will ALWAYS find a taker!

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Top Ten Lies of Entrepreneurs

Yet another exposé by Guy - the top ten lies of entrepreneurs

  • “Our projections are conservative.” An entrepreneur's projections are never conservative. If they were, they would be $0. I have never seen an entrepreneur achieve even her most conservative projections. Generally, an entrepreneur has no idea what sales will be, so she guesses: “Too little will make my deal uninteresting; too big, and I'll look hallucinogenic.” The result is that everyone's projections are $50 million in year four. As a rule of thumb, when I see a projection, I add one year to delivery time and multiply by .1.
  • “(Big name research firm) says our market will be $50 billion in 2010.” Every entrepreneur has a few slides about how the market potential for his segment is tens of billions. It doesn't matter if the product is bar mitzah planning software or 802.11 chip sets. Venture capitalists don't believe this type of forecast because it's the fifth one of this magnitude that they've heard that day. Entrepreneurs would do themselves a favor by simply removing any reference to market size estimates from consulting firms.
  • “(Big name company) is going to sign our purchase order next week. This is the “I heard I have to show traction at a conference” lie of entrepreneurs. The funny thing is that next week, the purchase order still isn't signed. Nor the week after. The decision maker gets laid off, the CEO gets fired, there's a natural disaster, whatever. The only way to play this card if AFTER the purchase order is signed because no investor whose money you'd want will fall for this one.
  • “Key employees are set to join us as soon as we get funded.” More often than not when a venture capitalist calls these key employees who are VPs are Microsoft, Oracle, and Sun, he gets the following response, “Who said that? I recall meeting him at a Churchill Club meeting, but I certainly didn't say I would leave my cush $250,000/year job at Adobe to join his startup.” If it's true that key employees are ready to rock and roll, have them call the venture capitalist after the meeting and testify to this effect.
  • “No one is doing what we're doing.” This is a bummer of a lie because there are only two logical conclusions. First, no one else is doing this because there is no market for it. Second, the entrepreneur is so clueless that he can't even use Google to figure out he has competition. Suffice it to say that the lack of a market and cluelessness is not conducive to securing an investment. As a rule of thumb, if you have a good idea, five companies are going the same thing. If you have a great idea, fifteen companies are doing the same thing.
  • “No one can do what we're doing. If there's anything worse than the lack of a market and cluelessness, it's arrogance. No one else can do this until the first company does it, and ten others spring up in the next ninety days. Let's see, no one else ran a sub four-minute mile after Roger Bannister. (It took only a month before John Landy did). The world is a big place. There are lots of smart people in it. Entrepreneurs are kidding themselves if they think they have any kind of monopoly on knowledge. And, sure as I'm a Macintosh user, on the same day that an entrepreneur tells this lie, the venture capitalist will have met with another company that's doing the same thing.
  • “Hurry because several other venture capital firms are interested.” The good news: There are maybe one hundred entrepreneurs in the world who can make this claim. The bad news: The fact that you are reading a blog about venture capital means you're not one of them. As my mother used to say, “Never play Russian roulette with an Uzi.” For the absolute cream of the crop, there is competition for a deal, and an entrepreneur can scare other investors to make a decision. For the rest of us, don't think one can create a sense of scarcity when it's not true. Re-read the previous blog about the lies of venture capitalists, to learn how entrepreneurs are hearing “maybe” when venture capitalists are saying “no.”
  • “Oracle is too big/dumb/slow to be a threat.” Larry Ellison has his own jet. He can keep the San Jose Airport open for his late night landings. His boat is so big that it can barely get under the Golden Gate Bridge. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs are flying on Southwest out of Oakland and stealing the free peanuts. There's a reason why Larry is where he is, and entrepreneurs are where they are, and it's not that he's big, dumb, and slow. Competing with Oracle, Microsoft, and other large companies is a very difficult task. Entrepreneurs who utter this lie look at best naive. You think it's bravado, but venture capitalists think it's stupidity.
  • “We have a proven management team.” Says who? Because the founder worked at Morgan Stanley for a summer? Or McKinsey for two years? Or he made sure that John Sculley's Macintosh could power on? Truly “proven” in a venture capitalist's eyes is founder of a company that returned billions to its investors. But if the entrepreneur were that proven, that he (a) probably wouldn't have to ask for money; (b) wouldn't be claiming that he's proven. (Do you think Wayne Gretzky went around saying, “I am a good hockey player”?) A better strategy is for the entrepreneur to state that (a) she has relevant industry experience; (b) she is going to do whatever it takes to succeed; (c) she is going to surround herself with directors and advisors who are proven; and (d) she'll step aside whenever it becomes necessary. This is good enough for a venture capitalist that believes in what the entrepreneur is doing.
  • “Patents make our product defensible.” The optimal number of times to use the P word in a presentation is one. Just once, say, “We have filed patents for what we are doing.” Done. The second time you say it, venture capitalists begin to suspect that you are depending too much on patents for defensibility. The third time you say it, you are holding a sign above your head that says, “I am clueless.” Sure, you should patent what you're doing--if for no other reason than to say it once in your presentation. But at the end of the patents are mostly good for impressing your parents. You won't have the time or money to sue anyone with a pocket deep enough to be worth suing.
  • “All we have to do is get 1% of the market.” (Here's a bonus since I still have battery power.) This lie is the flip side of “the market will be $50 billion.” There are two problems with this lie. First, no venture capitalist is interested in a company that is looking to get 1% or so of a market. Frankly, we want our companies to face the wrath of the anti-trust division of the Department of Justice. Second, it's also not that easy to get 1% of any market, so you look silly pretending that it is. Generally, it's much better for entrepreneurs to show a realistic appreciation of the difficulty of building a successful company.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Top Ten Lies of Venture Capitalists

Here is an exposé by Guy of the top ten lies of venture capitalists.
  • “I liked your company, but my partners didn't.” In other words, “no.” What the sponsor is trying to get the entrepreneur to believe is that he's the good guy, the smart guy, the guy who gets it; the “others” didn't, so don't blame him. This is a cop out; it's not the other partners didn't like the deal as much as the sponsor wasn't a true believer. A true believer would get it done.
  • "If you get a lead, we will follow.” In other words, “no.” As the old Japanese say, “If your aunt had balls, she'd be your uncle.” Well, she doesn't have balls, so it doesn't matter. The venture capitalist is saying, “ We don't really believe, but if you can get Sequoia to lead, we'll jump on the pile.” In other words, once the entrepreneur doesn't need the money, the venture capitalist would be happy to give him some more--this is like saying, “Once you've stopped Larry Csonka cold, we'll help you tackle him.” What entrepreneurs want to hear is, “If you can't get a lead, we will.” That's a believer.
  • “Show us some traction, and we'll invest.” In other words, “no.” This lie translates to “I don't believe your story, but if you can prove it by achieving significant revenue, then you might convince me. However, I don't want to tell you 'no' because I might be wrong and by golly you may sign up a Fortune 500 customer and then I'd look like a total orifice.”
  • “We love to co-invest with other venture capitalists.” Like the sun rising and Canadians playing hockey, you can depend on the greed of venture capitalists. Greed in this business translates to “If this is a good deal, I want it all.” What entrepreneurs want to hear is, “We want the whole round. We don't want any other investors.” Then it's the entrepreneur's job to convince them why other investors can make the pie bigger as opposed to re-configuring the slices.
  • “We're investing in your team.” This is an incomplete statement. While it's true that they are investing in the team, entrepreneurs are hearing, “We won't fire you--why would we fire you if we invested because of you?” That's not what the venture capitalist is saying at all. What she is saying is, “We're investing in your team as long as things are going well, but if they go bad we will fire your ass because no one is indispensable.”
  • “I have lots of bandwidth to dedicate to your company.” Maybe the venture capitalist is talking about the T3 line into his office, but he's not talking about his personal calendar because he's already on ten boards. Counting board meetings, an entrepreneur should assume that a venture capitalist will spend between five to ten hours a month on a company. That's it. Deal with it. And make board meetings short!
  • “This is a vanilla term sheet.” There is no such thing as a vanilla term sheet. Do you think corporate finance attorneys are paid $400/hour to push out vanilla term sheets? If entrepreneurs insist on using a flavor of ice cream to describe term sheets, the only flavor that works is Rocky Road. This is why they need their own $400/hour attorney too--as opposed to Uncle Joe the divorce lawyer.
  • “We can open up doors for you at our client companies.” This is a double whammy of lie. First, a venture capitalist can't always open up doors at client companies. Frankly, he might be hated by the client company. The worst thing in the world may be a referral from him. Second, even if the venture capitalist can open the door, entrepreneurs can't seriously expect the company to commit to your product--that is, something that isn't much more than a slick (10/20/30) PowerPoint presentation.
  • “We like early-stage investing.” Venture capitalists fantasize about putting $1 million into a $2 million pre-money company and end up owning 33% of the next Google. That's early stage investing. Do you know why we all know about Google's amazing return on investment? The same reason we all know about Michael Jordan: Googles and Michael Jordans hardly ever happen. If they were common, no one would write about them. If you scratch beneath the surface, venture capitalists want to invest in proven teams (eg., the founders of Cisco) with proven technology (eg., the basis of a Nobel Prize) in a proven market (eg., ecommerce). We are remarkably risk averse considering it's not even our money.