Dave McClure is not your typical venture capitalist. He wears T-shirts and flip flops, and cusses like a sailor.
The term angel could not be more oxymoronic when applied to McClure.
In the course of his 30-minute talk at the GROW conference in Vancouver, B.C. today, the founder of Silicon Valley’s 500 Startups dropped the F-bomb and the word asshole more than a dozen times. And nothing raises the former PayPal executive’s blood pressure like khaki-wearing, slick talking venture capitalists who he believes suck the life out of most things they touch.
McClure says there’s a big shift in early-stage venture capital from bankers to operators, highlighted by the switch from suits to flip flops.
Wearing a suit is like the “stupidest thing” if you are trying to create trust with geeky developers who are trying to start a company. “They are scared shitless of people in sales in suits,” he said.
Even worse, McClure notes that most venture capitalists aren’t very good when it comes to making money, pointing out that about 75 percent of VCs do not even return 1X capital to investors.
“The last 10 to 20 years you’d think that it has been all about VCs making money, because that’s all we hear about,” said McClure. “But really it is all about VCs failing and failing to return capital and being f**king idiots. VCs are stupid. They are absolutely stupid. Does anyone want to challenge that statement? Does anyone think that VCs are not stupid?”
Nope, McClure said it is made even worse since most VCs are “insufferable, arrogant, fucking assholes” who don’t make bets early enough; have no idea what makes a good product and don’t know how to build communities.
“I could go on and on and on,” he said.
“It’s relatively easy if you actually give a fuck about something in technology, and you care and you track it,” he said.
Wow, tell us how you really feel Dave.
McClure thinks alternative investment vehicles such as Y Combinator, 500 Startups and his beloved Angel List are going to eat the lunch of traditional venture capitalists, many of whom are stuck in a traditional strategy of making a few bets in hopes of achieving $1 billion outcomes.
Well, as we all know, getting $1 billion outcomes is “really, really f**cking hard.” That’s why McClure is looking to place hundreds of bets on startups, hoping he can hit dozens of singles (like Ichiro) rather than a few home runs (like Barry Bonds).
He expects about 20 to 25 percent of the 500 Startups’ portfolio will produce a positive outcome, with roughly 5 percent of the companies returning 20X or better, with the firm shooting for $100 million outcomes, rather than $1 billion outcomes.
The jury is still out on whether McClure’s model will work, with critics labeling it the “spray and pray” approach to investing.
McClure is most bullish on Angel List, which he encouraged audience members to tap into regularly.
“If you ignore everything else that I am going to say today, and I wouldn’t be offended if you did, use Angel List. It is really amazing…. It is where all of the startups and investors are, so if you are not on there, either you are intentionally trying to hide or you are being a fucking idiot.”
Previously on GeekWire: The venture capital model is broken, and this damning report explains why
Editor’s note: Team GeekWire is attending the GROW conference in Vancouver, B.C. this week, covering some of the talks.