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September 01, 2005

Does it pay to be an iconoclastic VC?

Extract from a recent The Deal.com report:
(Tim Draper, Managing Director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson) is best known for self-promotional stunts such as singing at conferences, dressing up as Batman on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and generally, just making really silly public statements that attract attention. While VC investing may require brains and native shrewdness, Draper's rebound may show that success can also come through a willingness to take risks on new geographies and sectors. And if self-promotion and buffoonery are an inseparable part of that risk-taking proposition, so be it…

For all this ridiculousness, Draper still sits on a significant stake in one of the world's more promising startups that happens to be located in Eastern Europe. Tallinn, Estonia-based Skype was founded by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, the engineering duo behind file sharing technology KaZaA. Skype offers PC-to-PC Internet telephony calling that is free for registered users and inexpensive for unregistered users.

But why Draper Fisher Jurvetson? First, it's one of the few venture firms willing to take a chance in a distant locale such as Estonia. Although the country is just two hours by hydrofoil from Finland, most VCs wouldn't even travel to London, let alone Tallinn.