Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Life by Sam Huleatt

Buying Talent

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In an interview with Semil Shah, Keith Rabois remarks that he (Rabois) worries startup talent has become too fragmented. Rabois’ conjecture is that to have a true break-away company (a la Facebook, Twitter, etc) you need a concentration of very talented folks.

For the most part I agree with this — although I think certain types of Internet driven companies may require less technical human capital than before*.

Anyhow, a trend I have observed is that some A and/or B round companies seem to be raising large amounts of cash — more than they would seemingly need so early. Examples are Coinbase and 500px. My theory is that we are starting to see larger rounds where portions of the capital are used 1) to take some money off the table earlier (see SnapChat) and 2) using the funds for early acquisitions.

In an emerging space like Bitcoin, I think it makes a lot of sense to acquire talent with niche knowledge to ‘pour gasoline’ on the growth. What’s also ironic is that despite all the rhetoric about VC going away, these two trends could ultimately bring relevancy back to VC if hot startups opt for bigger checks earlier on to take advantage of the aforementioned points.

*My company Heights Media is an example of this phenomenon