May 11 2005

Why blog?

Paul Kedrosky writes on his blog: Here is a puzzler: Why are there so many venture capital blogs? It is hard not to notice that there a host of such things out there, from Brad Feld’s to Fred Wilson’s, and everyone in between. Here are five possible hypotheses:

1. Professional service firms are highly branded by individual, so it makes sense to get out there and present yourself as a way of attracting deal flow.

2. There are just as many legal/financial/other blogs, but those people aren’t as good at getting media attention.

3. Venture capitalists don’t have enough to do.

4. Having a blog as a technology VC is a way of demonstrating your technical competencies.

5. Having a blog is a way to lay out your thought process about markets and technologies, thus demonstrating your added value as a putative investee board member. Let me add my 2c: 1 and 5 are generally on target – ultimately VC investing is about the people involved and the partner (or principal) you work with is more meaningful than the firm as a whole. 3 is off base – Brad is one of the busiest guys I know. My sense is that Fred is extremely busy as well and the two together are some of the most prolific VC bloggers around. I’m definitely not lacking for things to work on and as a result tend to write my blogs while traveling or in the evening. Perhaps 4 is a motivator tosome VCs, but really – how hard is it to set up a blog anyway? I can’t imagine anyone really feels that blogging adds much in the way of technical credibility. I have no clue on 2.

That said, here are some other possible reasons – at least from this VC blogger:

6. Writing things down requires more/better thought. The thought that goes into a post requires some time and attention. It’s easy to start to develop a “thesis” about something – to use a VC cliché that I’m not very fond of – but much harder to really understand something to the point of being able to organize your thoughts into a blog post.

7. Playing with the technology is interesting/helpful. This is different from 4 – I’m not talking about trying to prove to anyone that you are a technologist (I’m not one). I’m talking about getting your hands dirty and seeing what’s out there to get a better lay of the land (Mobius is an investor in Technorati, Newsgator and Feedburner, for example, so its directly relevant to my work).

8. Good VCs benefit from better educated entrepreneurs. Too much of venture capital seems like a black hole to many entrepreneurs. Perhaps this drives better deals for VCs, but ultimately an uneven playing field doesn’t really benefit anyone. Writing about how to give better VC pitches or what term sheet terms actually mean is a way of shedding light into the vortex and demystifying venture capital. Clearly, education is a theme across many of the VC blogs out there.

9. Creating a name. This is totally personal and perhaps only applicable to me, but it’s an important part of why I blog, so its worth mentioning. I imagine this is more true for the small number of non-partner VC bloggers like myself, but let’s face it – the VC world has a hierarchy and I’m trying to climb my way up it. Blogging is a way to give myself a voice that can perhaps be heard beyond my firm (The Wall St. Journal isn’t exactly beating down my door for quotes at the moment). I imagine this is a motivator for partner VC bloggers as well (although I don’t know that they would admit it as readily)

I’ve been meaning to post on this topic (might as well be transparent about what I’m trying to get out of this experience). Thanks Paul for the push to finally get this down on paper.

Also see Jeff Clavier’s response to Paul’s question here.