May 21st, 2008

Deal Flow Is Dead, Long Live Thesis Driven Investing


This flow-centric business model made a tremendous amount of sense when the venture industry was relatively small and immature.  Back then, there were only a handful of competitors and funds were relatively modest in size.  For example, in 1980 there were only 183 venture capital firms and each firm had an average of only $41.6M under management.  Given this, as well as the immaturity of venture capital as an asset class in 1980, it’s probably safe to say that venture capital in 1980 was a true “buyer’s market” with more demand for capital than supply.   Perhaps more importantly, the investable landscape for venture capital, particularly technology venture capital, was both “thin” and “shallow”.  It was “thin” in that there were only a few sectors one could invest in.  It was “shallow” in that each sector was quite small and often only composed of a few companies. link »

For the rest of the industry, deal-flow based business models are now unsustainable thanks to two simple facts: 1. The venture industry simply is too big and too competitive for any firm to sit back wait for deals to come to them.  2. There is so much money in the industry now that any firm that is waiting for “hot” deal flow will likely find itself in the midst of a ruinous bidding war. link »

– from Burnham’s Beat: Deal Flow Is Dead, Long Live Thesis Driven Investing via

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