REGRET Is a horrible feeling…
PALO ALTO, California — Geoffrey Yang, a top Silicon Valley venture capitalist, can take solace in all those companies he has invested in that produced rich payouts, including Ask Jeeves, NetFlix and Excite but no relief in the feelings of regret.
He will probably always regret the day he did not invest — the day when Larry Page and Sergey Brin arrived at his office seeking $25 million to expand their fledgling company, which they had named Google a few months before. Yang declined because he served on the board of Excite, a once-popular Internet portal that he thought at the time might compete with Google.
To know that you turned away a deal that would now be worth hundreds of millions to you and your partners — and many hundreds of millions more to your investors — has to make you feel not so smart.
“If this isn’t the single best deal in venture history, it’s got to be up there,” Yang said valiantly.
Still, Yang can take comfort in knowing that he and his partners at Redpoint Ventures are not the only venture capitalists kicking themselves in butt about Google.
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By TOMIO GERON
The Opposite of Regret
It’s the rare angel investor who scores one historic blockbuster exit in a lifetime. Ron Conway has done it, he made the right choice and may have a couple more in him.
Conway, one of the most well known angel investors in Silicon Valley, is a former entrepreneur who sold his last company in 1994 and since then has focused strictly on backing Internet start-ups, most recently heading super angel firm SV Angel. On Saturday, he spoke to new entrepreneurs at Y Combinator’s Startup at Stanford University – and the talk turned to his investments in Google Inc. and Facebook Inc.
Conway first met Larry Page and Sergey Brin at a holiday party in Atherton, Calif. when their company was still called Backrub. The two Stanford students explained their page-rank idea to Conway, who was interested because he was involved with another search engine, AskJeeves.
“Page rank and relevance really resonated…This is when they were raising a VC round,” Conway said. They said, “If you help us get Sequoia, you can invest, because we want to set up a (partnership deal) with Yahoo.”
“All of us felt lucky to get in,” Conway said of the Google deal. “All of this [debate] about valuations is completely crazy. Companies are binary. They’re either big wins or they don’t win. Let the market decide the valuation.
“People who invested at $75 million in Google made $400 for every dollar they put in. I don’t think anyone’s complaining.”
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