Redeye VC

Josh Kopelman

Managing Director of First Round Capital.

espite being coastally challenged (currently living in Philadelphia), Josh has been an active entrepreneur and investor in the Internet industry since its commercialization. In 1992, while he was a student at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Josh co-founded Infonautics Corporation – an Internet information company. In 1996, Infonautics went public on the NASDAQ stock exchange.

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The UNfunded

April_foolOver the last several years, April Fool's Day has been moving online – and although we’ve seen online pranks from startups, bloggers, and large Internet companies, I’ve noticed relatively few from venture capitalists.  (Insert sarcastic comment about VC’s lack of sense of humor here).  So, I thought I’d try to join in this year. 

One of the investment themes we’ve been following this past year is the rapid growth of user-generated content.  And a creative example of user-generated content in the venture industry is TheFunded.com – a site where entrepreneurs can leave anonymous feedback about their experiences with venture capitalists.  So, I thought it would be fitting to launch TheUNFunded.com for April Fools – a site for VC’s to provide anonymous feedback on entrepreneurs.  I intentionally wrote such outlandish reviews of fake entrepreneurs, and I expected everyone to immediately realize it was a joke. 

Michael Arrington “broke the story” about TheUnFunded.com yesterday on Techcrunch, and the site quickly benefited from the Techcrunch Bump.   And while my little prank surely won’t make the 100 Top April Fools Day Hoaxes of all time, the responses provided an interesting perspective on people’s attitudes (and predispositions) towards the venture industry.  While there were several people who recognized the April Fool's Day satire, I was surprised to see that many people assumed the site was real.  And their reactions on Techcrunch and blog posts were very revealing.  Heck, even VentureBeat (which covers the venture industry professionally) fell for it.  My favorite reaction comes from a del.icio.us user who tagged the site as “Funding, VC, Douchebags”.

The fact that so many smart people actually believed that such an outlandish site could be legitimate speaks volumes about the state of the relationship between entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.  Today's New York Times has a story which notes that "...recent research suggests that the experience of being duped can stir self-reflection in a way few other experiences can..."  And while I don’t want to read too much into a silly April Fool’s Day joke, I think it does shine a little light on the level of mistrust and ignorance within the VC/entrepreneur ecosystem.  I don’t know if I am more surprised by the fact that entrepreneurs fell for the hoax – or that the site received over thirty membership requests from legitimate VCs.   (Don’t worry guys, I won’t publish your submissions – just make sure you mark up my next hot deal;-)

Just to be clear, TheUnFunded was a joke.  A parody.  No actual entrepreneurs or companies were reviewed on the site.  I genuinely like TheFunded.com – and think it provides some much needed transparency in the venture industry.  No hidden message here -- just a recognition that sometimes everyone takes themselves a little too seriously...

Now that April Fools is past, I’ll be shutting down TheUnFunded.com later this week, and giving the domain to Adeo at TheFunded to use as he sees fit.  Thanks to both Michael and Adeo for playing along… 

Comments

Jordan Mitchell

What makes this such a good prank is the fact that so many believed it!

Ted Rheingold

Ya know, the couple times I explored TheFunded it really felt pained me. Far too many people were speaking maliciously or carelessly to make it trustworthy.

So to be honest I thought it was fine that the other side of relationship would finally have a chance to say their side of the story.

I was rather looking forward to some real story sharing ;>

Very well done!

Mukund Mohan

You pulled this off very well. Great job and it will make my list of top 100 April fools day pranks.

Austin Hill

Very funny Josh. One of the better ones circulating today. Given the date I assumed it a joke, but to know you were behind it makes it even funnier.

Great gag.

Nabeel Hyatt

I vote you keep the site up. Great joke.

Great stuff.

Charles

Yes I think it is potentially a valuable resource. The concept is sound.

Paul

I almost fell for it. (OK I did fall for it) Great job, was my favorite prank of the day!

The VC-entrepreneur relationship could be dramatically improved if VCs could just learn to say no. Being turned down by a VC does not create animosity at all - we move down the road. But letting someone on for months on end when the answer was no all along - that breeds hatred.

Aaron Cohen

Josh:

For me, it's been a problem for a dozen years. But I actually think it's getting better as more people like you, Raj, perhaps George Bell and others who have real startup experience become professional investors. This perspective really did not exist in the 90s because the transition in the industry went from hardware to enterprise software to media and many "tech vcs" didn't do well with media.

I think it's gotten considerably better when you consider Fred Wilson and Jeremy Liew among others practice aggressive blogging and heavily use web services.

All of this said, as we head for a downturn here I worry that the tension will rise in board meetings because first time VCs and first-time entrepreneurs have not been through a downturn.

Aaron

Alex

......."the founder hit on my assistant."

...."He began the pitch for his dating site by telling me that I would not get it because (1) I am married, and (2) I am over 30...."


by far the funniest thing I saw all day. That a boy

Christine

Very, very nicely done. Had no idea it was you!

Jeff Haynie

Good job, so wonderful... and probably a good idea. :)

Andy Wong

I won't say it is the best April Fool joke, but the best April Fool joke of the Web.

So, now those seeking for VC have more confusing info around, and they need clear mind and deeper thoughts rather than a single silver bullet to hit VC guys.

Beautiful

The best irony of this "prank" is the fact that Greenhills Ventures actually posted the "Un Funded" in the Press section of their website as though it is a defense of their rotten reputation on "The Funded" - idiots all!!

Jeffrey Allen

Check out our blog called "Don't Blame the Investors; the difference between a client & enquirer" found on both GlobalCrossroadsCapital.com and google. No suprise with the deluge of those seeking capital, that only 1 in 200 deals close. When those seeking capital start recognizing industry standards of "investor approval criteria" instead of dwelling on their "philosophy" of opinions of what It takes to get funded; then that 1 in 200 convergence ratio will begin to improve.

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For what it's worth, before Paypal was going to send money between Palm PDAs, they were going to be in the business of linking field sales to the home office with IPSec, etc. for Palm.

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