LeWeb: The Money Roundtable

Interesting VC/Angel roundtable this morning at LeWeb moderated by Dave McClure (who defined himself as Startup Investor & TroubleMaker!). Here’s what participants had to say about the VC/angel market in 2009 and what we can look for in the future.

Money Panel LeWeb Paris December 2009

Christopher Sacca, Founder, Lowercase Capital LLC

  • His firm does early stage investment ($50K to 250K) and very large investment ($500M+)
  • It is now cheap to start a company. Ten years ago, it would cost you $1M before your first line of code. Rent and Engineers are now the two biggest expense lines.
  • Sacca revealed that they did 3 deals yesterday.
  • The changes he saw recently: valuations are up again driven by larger funds probably because it was a year of low activity. Funds need to get the money out and VCs definitely have money.

Dan’l Lewin, Corporate Vice President, Strategic and Emerging Business Development, Microsoft Corporation

  • Microsoft buys 10-20 small companies per year, about half of those are VC-backed.
  • Those acquisitions are usually companies that are 2 to 5 year-old.
  • 2009 was a good year relative for young companies.
  • Microsoft buys many companies abroad, not just in the US.
  • When asked if he thinks acquirers are competing with VCs, Lewin said he doesn’t think so given the scale of their business. They look at businesses that are close to the core, extending the business.

Dave McClure Chris Sacca Danl Lewin LeWeb Paris December 2009

Dave McClure, Chris Sacca, Dan’l Lewin

David Hornik Jeremy Wenokur Eric Archambeau LeWeb Paris December 2009

David Hornik, Jeremy Wenokur, Eric Archambeau

David Hornik, August Capital

  • 2009 was a great year for August Capital as they closed a new $650M fund.
  • Hornik did 4 deals in the last 12 months (6 in the last 15 months).
  • Size of those deals: between $1M to $35M. Usually, they are Series A rounds (approximately $4M)
  • What’s a successful investment for Hornik: when he can say “that was great!”.
  • In 2010, a lot of people are hoping is the year that VC are able to raise money. In the case of Gowalla, competition for the deal between funds drove the price up.
  • Hornik mentioned that it’s cheap to start companies these days but, as it starts scaling, it’s not as cheap. It’s cheaper the ten years ago but it’s not cheap. The things that succeed require capital.

Jeremy Wenokur, Angel investor & Advisor to Apax Partner

  • Wenokur says he took 9 months off and just restarted investing.
  • The size of his deals: $25-50k investments.
  • He’s seen the shift of money to smaller funds and that’s why you see a lot of deals being chased.
  • For him, a good exit is $20M-30M exit and it happens one out of five times.

Eric Archambeau, General Partner, Wellington Partners

  • They search Europe for investments
  • They have 800M euros in management
  • They do 50K to 25M euros investments
  • in Web investment, they look for evidence of traction
  • In reference to smaller exits in 2009, Archambeau says that maybe VCs were less patient this year and maybe exited too early.

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