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June 03, 2006

"It is good time to be an entrepreneur and tough to be a VC"

Mercury News has an interesting interview with former PayPal CEO Peter Thiel who recently joined with two other PayPal co-founders to launch the $50 million Founders Fund to invest in consumer Internet start-ups.
Q What's it like to be a venture capitalist these days?

A If you're a Sequoia or a Kleiner Perkins, which invested in Google, you probably made more money off of your investment in Google than from all of your other investments in companies that didn't go public combined. The lesson for VCs is that you have to invest in a company that has the potential to be worth $1 billion.

Q There has been a lot of money pouring into venture capital since 1999. Won't that kill profits for most VC firms -- because there are so many competitors?

A In the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s, it was hard to be an entrepreneur, and good to be a VC. In the late 1990s, it was good for both entrepreneur and VCs. In the early 2000s, it was bad for both. Now we're in the fourth zone, where it is good to be an entrepreneur and tough to be a VC.

Obviously, this is in the US context. In India, as John Doerr has figured out, start-up capital is still very scarce.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder of Venture Intelligence India, which tracks venture capital activity in India and Indian-founded companies worldwide. View sample issues of Venture Intelligence India newsletters and reports.