“Anti-Portfolio”

Imagine passing on a life-changing investment (Need an example? Why didn’t we all just put $1000 dollars in bitcoin years ago…)

Now imagine having passed on investments like this multiple times in the past.

Okay now imagine it happening over and over again in the future with certainty.

This is the world of early-stage investing.

Version One founding partner Boris Wertz recently published the Version One “Anti-Portfolio” – the companies that you passed on, but ended up doing very, very well. 

Here’s an example of one company in their “anti-portfolio”:

Honey

We had a chance to invest in a $500K round at a $12M valuation
 in 2015. We loved the founders, but didn’t have much conviction around the scalability of a browser plug-in and the fact that this was a bridge round. And yeah, $12M felt kind of high :-).

Outcome: Just sold to PayPal for $4B (PayPal’s largest acquisition to date).



I think it is awesome when VC firms publish these portfolios (here is Bessemer’s) as it allows us to peek behind the curtain into the world of high-stakes (and potentially life-changing high-return) investment decision making. Bessemer is quite frank about why they created and publish their portfolio:

We would like to honor these companies – our “anti-portfolio” – whose phenomenal success inspires us in our ongoing endeavors to build growing businesses. Or, to put it another way: if we had invested in any of these companies, we might not still be working.

These anti-portfolios serve as a constant reminder of a few things that Boris sums up really well and I wanted to highlight them below as I think they provide a great reminder of perspective for both investors and founders:

  • Early-stage investing is not easy and we [investors] make a wrong decision every day!
  • This list should be a confidence booster to every entrepreneur that gets a no from an investor.
  • Early-stage investors are more wrong than right. A “pass” means absolutely nothing about the future success of your company!

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