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Catfather of the Internet: Just Because You Can Angel Invest Doesn’t Mean You Should

According to an article published on WIRED, For the first time ever, people can now buy equity, not just products, through startup crowdfunding sites like AngelList. Some in the VC industry have commented that this democratization “changes everything” — especially early-stage investments, in “unanticipated ways.”

But no one’s talking about whether people should invest.

Just because anyone (well, an accredited anyone) can become an investor doesn’t mean they should. And despite what Silicon Valley folklore tells us, entrepreneurs don’t necessarily make the best investors.

I’m speaking from experience.

I’m an entrepreneur. I’m also a lifelong student of that job, which is being the CEO of Cheezburger — the network including sites like I Can Has Cheezburger, FAIL Blog, Know Your Meme, and more (part of what WIRED referred to as the “online cat-industrial complex”). As exciting as that sounds though, my responsibilities are actually very straightforward, even though I experiment with different things to become better at my job…

But being an angel investor does not help me become a better CEO. Sure, we all know of many startup CEOs who have made fortunes as angel investors. I just can’t tell if it’s because they’re good at it, or if a booming industry tide is floating all boats.

Now, I’m not advocating a “leave it to the professionals” take on angel investing (even serious angel investors get terrible returns they don’t talk about). What I’m saying is that being an entrepreneur does not necessarily lead to better angel investing.

Most entrepreneurs, including myself, are simply too busy running a business. Some, like HubSpot’s Dharmesh Shah, have even defined their entire angel investing strategy solely around the constraint of having no time, which results in rules such as not doing: due diligence (“seriously, almost none”); follow-on investments (because it creates a “signaling” problem for the entrepreneur); and board/advisory positions (no time).

So while I have made two angel investments in the past five years, I actually have no idea how the investments are performing. The companies are still going strong, but the investments? No clue. Note, a good company does not always a good investment make.

Why do entrepreneurs like myself shortchange the time they spend guarding their hard-earned dollars? Because the potential gain from building a great business for yourself is much higher than the potential gain from an angel investment.

Read more on WIRED

Tagged in: internet investors
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