Here’s something funny for those of you into VCs and entrepreneurs.
VCs love to list their portfolio companies as shining badges of honor, but how many dare to show off their closets of mistakes, oversights and horrendous ill judgment that led them to pass over great startups that went on to become mega-hits at Wall Street? Thanks to Noah for sifting through the web uncovering this gem of quirkiness from BVP.
So here’s what Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP), arguably one of the oldest VC firm, invested in:
While, over the course of our history, we did invest in:
- a wig company
- a french-fry company
- the Lahaina, Ka’anapali & Pacific Railroad
Yes, french fries, I wonder how that business plan look like. But below is another list of “small fries” they decided to pass over for a multitude of reasons unbeknownst but now deeply regretted. Bracketed comments lifted from main site here.
- Apple Computer (BVP had the opportunity to invest in pre-IPO secondary stock in Apple at a $60M valuation. BVP’s Neill Brownstein called it “outrageously expensive.”)
- eBay (“Stamps? Coins? Comic books? You’ve GOT to be kidding,” thought Cowan. “No-brainer pass.”)
- Federal Express (Incredibly, BVP passed on Federal Express seven times.)
(Cowan’s college friend rented her garage to Sergey and Larry for their first year. In 1999 and 2000 she tried to introduce Cowan to “these two really smart Stanford students writing a search engine”. Students? A new search engine? In the most important moment ever for Bessemer’s anti-portfolio, Cowan asked her, “How can I get out of this house without going anywhere near your garage?”)
- VCs ain’t gods. Dun get disheartened to be rebuffed by a few. Maybe they dun and can’t get it.
- Small things can be big ideas. Whoever thought selling vases, stamps, coins and other crap could become a billion dollar company?
- Just dream. Sometimes, dreams come true. And dream big. There’s this weird truth in nature and society that favors the bold and fearless. You dun get wildly successful by doing the same crap everyone else is doing.
- Hence, celebrate the unorthodox. Some happen to call it innovation.
Look where being unorthodox got BVP. I actually have a good impression of them now. Kinda endearing and approachable now, don’t you think? I always believe learning to take yourself less seriously helps.