On AngelList, Transparency Cuts Both Ways

I’m a big fan of AngelList, the crowd-funding platform. Great UI/UX, awesome cutting-edge philosophy and it is helping entrepreneurs overall. I don’t know Naval and Nivi, the founders, but I’ve only heard great things about them.

As you may have read, the SEC has relaxed its rules on solicitation, and it is making for some creative initiatives to link new companies with pools of capital. For example, Brad Feld has a great post here on what he and his partners are doing at Foundry via AngelList.

I do think that the increased transparency in the seed-stage segment is a good thing. More capital will go to more companies, as the Internet removes “transactional friction” (as I wrote yesterday here about Square Cash).

But, I do think the transparency cuts both ways. A few days ago, for example, I met with some founders in their early 20s, who are raising a small seed round. I asked them if they were going to list their offering on AngelList. They said they weren’t until they had some traction demonstrated. I wasn’t expecting this answer. I thought they’d be all-in, right away.

But, the more I thought about it, the more I began to think about transparency. If your mobile app user base is growing 20% a month, but everyone else on AngelList is growing 50%, then you won’t look great on a relative basis, all other things being equal.

So, the greater visibility that crowd funding provides to entrepreneurs is great, but it cuts both ways. Among the long list of start-ups listed on a marketplace web site, though, you still have to differentiate yourself. In the end, that relative grading is a good thing. It will make you stronger.

It is an exciting time in the funding space.


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