The Wisdom of Bill Draper

In case you didn’t catch this last week, the Wall Street Journal ran a great interview with Bill Draper, one of the fathers of the VC industry (and incidentally, the father of VC Tim Draper).

Here is some of the wit and wisdom of this living legend:

On working with entrepreneurs:

“When an entrepreneur has a first board meeting, we called that the ‘Oh sh—meeting.’ That’s when the VC finds out the bad news he didn’t know when he made the investment. How the VC reacts to that defines the relationship – it either becomes more brittle or closer.”

On timelines:

“We often tell (entrepreneurs) they have underestimated the timeline” – toward becoming profitable or becoming an exit candidate, for example. “They’d say, ‘No, we’ve doubled the time we think it will take.’ Then we double that timeline, and very often that’s not enough.”

On pulling out of Zappos:

“We had a convertible debenture, and when the two years were up, we said, ‘We’ll take our money back.’ It later sold for a billion dollars to Amazon. If a VC looks you in the eye and says he hasn’t made mistakes, he’s lying.”

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