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25TH May 2011

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Old people suck at Start ups… 'cause kids don't know about risk!


Michael Arrington is blunt.

That ouchie brought to you by Michael Arrington at a recent Tech Crunch Disrupt Conference.

It’s not as bad as it seems.

I find myself initially defensive at this comment, made by the headline grabbing (headline making!) founder of TechCrunch. I fall on the other side of thirty. If you check out this graph, which represents 300 responses from startups financed by Ron Conway, repeat founders under the age of 30 get more $500M+ exits. 

So if this is true, are old(er) founders more cautious, prudent, and take earlier, cheaper exits for security? Possibly. Whereas a younger founder will let their company brew for a while, gaining value, or be more tolerant of the risk along the way.

Older founders have also likely seen the game played before, and know how to judge incremental success, while a younger buck is more likely to bet the farm. But what is most interesting to me is which of these personalities match best with todays “2 & 20” VC dynamic, where small hits don’t clear their preference hurdles. If you need a moonshot to make a buck for your portfolio, by all means go find a kid.

But they are getting less naive every day.

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