Speed vs. Partnership

A musing.

The world of startup investing has moved from one of partnership to transaction. I see it in early stage VC, later stage VC and crypto. Capital has become a commodity, and with that the relationship between the founders and investors has become more fractured or dismissed as less important.

This movement has its up sides, the main one being that founders get more money, faster and don’t have to jump through as many hoops. Which on the whole, is an awesome thing.

My Grandmother once wrote an essay about her dislike of digital watches and the transition happening from analog to digital. In it she describes the reasons that she rejects the digital watch, and adores an analog time face.

“We can see by looking at the clock the time before, and the time to follow, as well as the time right now; this gives us a visual ballast of the past and future, while grounding us solidly in the moment.”

And then on the digital watch:

“The digital clock is after all, a further abstraction of an abstraction. It demands a leap of understanding of the same magnitude as when one learns to count without using fingers.”

And in the end she questions what we lose in this transition towards certainty.

“Are we losing anything as a result?”

Like she pondered time, I’ve been wondering about startup investing in a similar capacity.

In a world when speed wins in early stage investment decisions, do we lose anything as a result? Founders are definitely able to get more money without diligence, but where is the cost? What matters in a market where capital is a commodity and speed is an asset.

Call me old fashioned, but I do want to find founders who I want to work with, regardless of what they work on over the next 20 years. I want to find people who are curious and interesting and energetic, and work with them on a time horizon that seems unreal by todays standards.

I feel like the guy who is looking for marriage in a world where everyone else just wants to date.