Party Time For VCs?


Is the Valley pushing out the geeks to make way for the party crowd? It seems that at least new entrepreneurship one VC has tried to become more hip so to better connect with the changing entrepreneurial demographic.

Venture capitalist David Cowan is a professed chess-playing nerd who studied math and computer science at Harvard. Last year, though, he decided he needed a crash course in getting hip.

For the first time, the 40-year-old downloaded songs from Apple's iTunes online-music store and put some games on his cellphone. He started writing an irreverent blog, called "Who has time for this?" with observations on everything from computer security to his dead cat. He urged readers to give their own felines "a little extra tuna" in memory of his departed pet, Snoopy. Finally, the suburban father of three ventured out to a few high-tech networking parties, including one packed with Stanford University students and beer kegs.

His goal: to fit in with the young entrepreneurs who are suddenly the stars of Silicon Valley, with their hot Web startups aimed at teenagers and young adults. They have begun showing up at his firm, Bessemer Venture Partners of Menlo Park, Calif., dressed in T-shirts and flip-flops to pitch ideas, like mobile-phone services that help young people locate each other when they're out on the town.

While I understand the desire of VCs to do whatever necessary to network, I'm surprised that issues of style matter to the entrepreneurs. In my experience, entrepreneurs are primarily concerned about what people can do, not how they look and act. If that is changing, then I am sure we are building up a bubble of startups with good ideas and lousy performance.

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