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The Lean Finance Model Of Venture Capital 精益融资模型 December 8, 2011

Posted by Ian Cheng in Funding.


The venture capital industry is going through a ton of disruptions lately. One of the better explanations I’ve heard recently of what is going on comes from Duncan Davidson, a managing partner at Bullpen Capital who gave a great talk on the subject at TechCrunch Tokyo last week. I interviewed him backstage on video, where he summarized his views.

Just as there are now legions of “lean startups” which require less capital to build a product, Davidson argues that a “lean finance model” is also needed. “We are in the era of cheap. The whole concept is keep the company as lean as possible until the company validates its market, then you shovel the money in.”

Tech startups don’t need $5 million A rounds when $2 million to $3 million will do. So A rounds now get bypassed until a company proves itself and then you see these huge later-stage rounds. Or sometimes the startup gets sold for $30 million to $50 million, which is okay, since it didn’t have to grow into a huge valuation to begin with.

In this view, we are not really seeing a Series A Crunch (where the growing number of seed-funded companies are failing to find series A money). Rather, they are getting smaller amounts to see them through until acquisition or a later mega-round where the big VCs throw their weight around. “I call it a shovel-in round,” he says. “We go under the A.”

He notes that now half of all of the first institutional money going into startups is now “coming from a new breed of super angels.” This is a dramatic change from just two years ago,when less than 10 percent of the money was coming from super angels (see slide below).

The big-name VCs will still do okay. In the first half of this year, 7 top-tier firms commanded 80 percent of all the money going to venture capital. It’s the middle tier firms that are scrambling for survival.


最近风投界正经历一场大的变动。Duncan Davidso在采访中对这一现象给出了解释。(Duncan Davidso为Bullpen Capital的合伙人,上周在东京TechCruch做了一场精彩的演讲)

互联网新媒体行业有一批“精益初创公司”日渐崛起,他们的特点是需要相对较少的启动资金。正因为如此,在融资领域,也需要一个“精益融资模型”。 “我们正处在一个廉价的时代,这个概念的关键在于初创公司应该尽可能的保持精简 (无需大笔资金注入),直到市场认可他的产品,这时,才是大量资金涌入的时候。”

科技类的初创公司第一轮融资不需要500万美元,实际上2-3百万美元足矣。因此很多时候A轮融资被绕过,直到公司运营成功,然后大笔资金注入。也有时,初创企业以3千万到5千万美元的价格被卖。根据这种观点,目前并不存在Series A资金短缺 (Series A Crunch是指越来越多的种子期融资公司无法成功获得series A资金),只是因为资金数额减小,直到企业兼并或者大笔风投注资我们才能追踪注意到。

Duncan Davidso表示,目前一半以上的初创企业第一笔机构资金都来自“超级天使基金”。这同两年前截然不同,那时只有少于10%的资金来自这些超级天使 (见下图)



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