订阅

多平台阅读

微信订阅

杂志

申请纸刊赠阅

订阅每日电邮

移动应用

职场 - 专栏

风投行业有年龄偏见吗?

Seth Levine 2011年10月18日

早期科技公司被认为是年轻人的游戏。尽管我曾和很多富有经验、过去和现在都非常出色的企业家共事,但当我进入会议室,看到将由三个西装革履的中年人向我演示商业计划,那一刹那涌上心头的疑团或许并不仅仅只是瞬间的迟疑那么简单。

    近日我参加了为一家社交网络相关企业举行的推介会,所见令我颇感意外。会前我曾和创业者有过邮件往来,了解初期商业计划,商定会面事宜,但我们未曾谋面。结果出现在我面前的是三位年龄都在50岁上下、西装革履的男士,随身携带老款戴尔(Dell)笔记本电脑和一些关于产品设想的打印材料。

    我坐在那儿听他们演讲的时候,不禁想,如果这个团队的平均年龄在二三十岁,穿着全套理科男或者书呆子的行头(或至少是牛仔裤和运动鞋),我会有怎样不同的反应。同时也不禁思考,风投业是否存在年龄偏见。

    在我面前的是三个人已经在商场摸爬滚打20-30年,但我始终无法说服自己,将期望中的创业者形象与眼前的三个人联系起来。

    我们的一位有限合伙人曾问过一个类似的问题(具有讽刺意味的是,虽然当时我们是在我们的Boulder办公室里,但那位有限合伙人穿的是牛仔裤,而我的合伙人们和我都穿着运动服,跟我们通常面向投资者进行演示时一样)。我已经记不清他确切的说法,但差不多是“你们什么时候会因为上了年纪,再也干不了这一行?在你们专注的投资领域里,与年轻的创业者们不再有共同语言。”坦白讲,在此之前我从未想到过这个问题。这可能是因为我认为自己依然年轻,依然紧跟潮流(虽然这两样都跟我不沾边)。也因为当时我觉得只要我们对自己的事业充满激情,就能和拥有类似激情的创业者们打成一片(当年我们对投资者的回答也差不多是这样)。

    但事实上,风投业的确有一点年龄偏见。早期科技公司被认为是年轻人的游戏。尽管我曾和很多富有经验、过去和现在都非常出色的企业家共事,但当我进入会议室,看到将由三个西装革履的中年人向我演示商业计划,那一刹那涌上心头的疑团或许并不仅仅只是瞬间的迟疑那么简单。

    我希望听到你们对这个问题的看法……

    Seth Levine (@sether)在总部位于科罗拉多州的风投公司Foundry Group担任常务董事。

    I recently waked into a pitch meeting for a social networking related business and was surprised by what I saw. I had interacted with the entrepreneur over email – taking a look at the initial business plan and setting up the meeting – but we hadn't met in person before. In front of me were three guys in suits, each in their late 40′s or early 50′s, with an older Dell laptop and a paper print-out of some product ideas.

    And as I sat there listening to their pitch I couldn't help but think about how differently I might have reacted if this team was in their 20′s or 30′s, dressed in full tech/nerd hipster outfits (or at least jeans and sneakers), and whether there is a negative age bias in venture capital.

    Here were three guys with 20-30 years of business experience, but I was having trouble getting past my expectation of what they were going to look and act like, versus what was in front of me.

    An LP of ours once asked a question that dealt with a similar subject (ironically, although we were in our Boulder office and the LP in question was in jeans, my partners and I were all in sport coats, as we always are when presenting to our investors). I can't remember exactly how he phrased it but it was something like: "When do you guys get to be too old to do this? To relate to the younger entrepreneurs who are starting companies in the investment areas in which you guys focus." To be quite frank, this question had never actually occurred to me before. Likely because I still think of my self as young and hip (although I am neither). And because I figured that as long as we are passionate about what we're doing, we'll relate to entrepreneurs who have that similar passion (some variant of that is how we answered our investor at the time).

    But actually it's true. Certainly there is some amount of age bias in venture. Early stage tech is considered somewhat of a young person's game. And while I've worked with many very experienced entrepreneurs who were and are fantastic, I wonder if the initial pangs of question I felt on entering a room with 3 middle aged guys in suits pitching me their business plan is something that is deeper than a momentary hesitation.

    I'd love your thoughts on this...

    Seth Levine (@sether) is a managing director with Colorado-based venture capital firm Foundry Group

我来点评

  最新文章

最新文章:

500强情报中心

财富专栏