TheFunded.com – The Balance of Power Has Shifted

by Victor Cheng

Last night, I attended a launch event of sorts for TheFunded.com

Actually, TheFunded.com has been online for over a year, but up until now, it’s founder has chosen to remain anonymous.

TheFunded.com is a Web 2.0 “Consumer Reports” type site where CEOs of Venture-Backed companies anonymously rate the investors they’ve worked with and presented to.

All of the major VCs on TheFunded.com have ratings and reviews — just like books on Amazon.com.

The “great reveal” was quite interesting for a number of reasons.

First, it turns out TheFunded.com has been quietly operated by just one person — serial entrepreneur Adeo Ressi.  Adeo seems to be on a genuine mission to level the balance of power between Entrepreneurs are the Venture Investor.  I say he seems genuine, because anyone who has manually reviewed 6,000+ applications to become members of TheFunded.com must either be passionate, crazy, or crave carpal tunnel-causing adminstrative work.  My bet is he’s passionate.

Second, there was drama in the room.  There were a number of less-than-pleased Venture Capitalists in the room. I presume they or their firms were not rated well on TheFunded.com, because they were pitching Adeo Ressi on changing certain features on the site (e.g., get rid of the anonyminity).  I hope I wasn’t the only one who noticed the irony of a venture capitalist giving an elevator pitch to an entrepreneur.  Looks to me the site is already leveling the playing field between CEO and investor.

I couldn’t help but notice the social dynamics at play in the room.

In the early part of the evening, it was clear the room was composed of primarily two types of people: 1) those looking for money; and 2) those with money.

As you might expect, those looking for money were busy getting face time with those with the money.  Those looking for money were antsy — busy planning on who to talk to, in what order.  In contrast, those with the money seemed calm, relaxed, and, at some level, were enjoying the attention.

By the end of the evening, it was clear from Adeo’s remarks that CEO entrepreneurs have a lot of pent-up angst when it comes to dealing with certain VCs.  While the evening could have very easily become a VC-bashing event, it did not — though many people seemed to be thinking about it.  This was evident when many of the people in the room would preface their comments during cocktails with, “Wait… are you an investor?”

Clearly, the entrpreneurs did not want to offend prospective investors.  Yet, they certainly had a lot on their minds.  I suppose that’s why TheFunded.com has grown so quickly via word-of-mouth and is the subject of many conversations in the venture community.

Actually, there was a subtle tension in the room most of the evening.  CEOs were either schmoozing with the investors or double-checking to see if someone was an investor so that could talk more openly about their experiences wtih VCs.  If ever there was an “us” vs. “them” situation going on, this would be it.

So, my parting thought to Adeo was, “The guy’s got some guts.”  My parting comment was, “I hope you get used to wearing a bulls-eye on your back.”

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