The new Silicon Valley hype machine: AngelList

Yesterday at the Launch event I was sitting next to Naval Ravikant. I kept watching his screen. I had heard about his site, AngelList, before, but I didn’t have an opportunity to really dig into what it was and how it worked.

When one company, GreenGoose, got on stage and had an awesome demo (it was my favorite company of the two-day event, they won best overall from the LaunchPad, AngelList lit up. They got dozens of investors to show interest. As I watched Naval’s screen, you could see the investor interest pouring in. Like when a great answer gets posted to Quora, except AngelList only allows angel investors and a few other “scouts” (I’ve been added as a scout so I can watch the system and let you know what I see).

Visit GreenGoose’s page on AngelList and you can see who their investors are. Right now it lists Kal Vepuri, Shervin Pishevar, Bill Warner, Jay Levy, Betaspring, David Beyer. There are comments along the side, including a note about them winning at Launch from Naval himself. Price and terms are listed for investors.

Unfortunately because of SEC rules this site isn’t open to the public, but I’ll use this to inform my opinions often on my Tweets or here on my blog (I have to get permission from startups to use their discussions in public, first).

If you are already on AngelList, my page is here and you can follow me — I’ve already helped one company, Glmps, get noticed here (I got an early demo that even investors haven’t yet seen and I’m excited by that company’s offerings, and noted that in comments there, you’ll hear more about this company at SXSW).

But, anyway, watching what investors get hot and bothered about tells you where the world of tech is moving toward. It also helps explain some of the high valuations. Investors tend to be pack animals and tend to want to get in on “hot deals.” AngelList makes the hot deals happen fast.

I asked Naval why he started the site and he explained how he was screwed by a venture capitalist at one of his startups. He started it to help entrepreneurs see more venture capitalists and be able to more effectively deal with them. Looks like his service is well along its way. If you are an investor or a startup founder and you aren’t on AngelList yet you are really missing out.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the lovely writeup Robert. I know you know this, but you might want to update your post because the “you’ll see reports from this site” sentence might be confusing.

    If you want to publicly discuss any startups raising money on AngelList, please don’t mention their connection to AngelList. And please use publicly available information (or get the startup’s permission to discuss the info they posted on AngelList.) Basically, we can’t have any data leakage from AngelList without the startup’s permission.

    We would love to make the site wide open but startups generally don’t want that. Welcome aboard as a Scout!

  2. That’s an excellent article Scoble. Btw was awesome to see you on the late show. You did really well. Angel List has done an excellent job developing its service. I’ve watched their development and they’ve created great efficiencies in the angel investing space. If you like what they’ve done, stay tuned for more on Trusted Insight — The Trust Network in Alternative Investments (Just LPs with $1 billion + in assets — no angel investors). We’re alpha now, and will be releasing our beta product shortly. If you’re an early user and would like an invite, contact me, joe at trustedinsightinc.com.

  3. That’s an excellent article Scoble. Btw was awesome to see you on the late show. You did really well. Angel List has done an excellent job developing its service. I’ve watched their development and they’ve created great efficiencies in the angel investing space. If you like what they’ve done, stay tuned for more on Trusted Insight — The Trust Network in Alternative Investments (Just LPs with $1 billion + in assets — no angel investors). We’re alpha now, and will be releasing our beta product shortly. If you’re an early user and would like an invite, contact me, joe at trustedinsightinc.com.

  4. Cool site. The phrase “(i)nvestors tend to be pack animals” is just about the only thing that makes me think that we might actually be in a “new tech bubble” — otherwise, there are so many cool, useful things being built today…

  5. Great review Robert, I’ve been hearing about AngelList on & off – but this put it into a nice perspective. I know I’ll probably refer more than one new startup that way. It’s in my ‘resources I link to for other people’ folder now.

    But reading Nivi’s comment above reveals why startup links lead me to a login page. :
    What I am at a loss for though is why I’m seeing this “all activity on the site” feed on the front page that tells me who is following whom, who is being introduced, who is joining. I’m a bit baffled that you can’t disclose “startup X has a page” but it’s pretty clear to see all the activity. Is that intentional? Because it seems kind of odd that I can go to your profile, see the 86 people you’ve followed, see all of their activity streams, their profiles, companies they’ve invested in and whatnot…
    Am I missing the point of all of that being public?

    I’m unwilling to sign up under false pretenses and as I’m neither seeking funding or looking to invest right now, I won’t click past that first sign-up screen that requires one of those be checked. So I’m going to have to take it at your word that there’s a bunch of really useful stuff “inside” where you can go if you’re in one of the two categories… but is there a process for determining whether a person seeking membership (on either side of the table) is legit?

  6. Robert I know it was probably headline linkbait, but I think calling AngelList a “hype machine” is doing them (and their startups) a grave disservice.

    While it’s true that many investors follow the pack (true on or offline), the great thing Nivi & Naval have done with Angel List is to create a level playing field for both startups and angel investors that enables greater market access and financial access for new companies (& new investors).

    Far from hype, Angel List brings the best social aspects of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter & Quora to the startup ecosystem. It makes it easy for investors to see what’s happening from anywhere in the world, and makes it easier for startups to get funded & get started. And that’s a good thing, not hype.

    As you can tell, I’m a huge fan. Two Thumbs Way Up.

    1. Is being a “hype machine” necessarily a bad thing? Is “hype” by definition negative? Or can hype be justified? I tend to think the headline is just a truthful statement, and many people just think of ‘hype’ as bad. I think hype can be appropriate in certain situations, hence the phrase “over-hyped” which implies that there is a potentially-appropriate amount of hype.

      Which Angellist delivers in spades, in addition to potentially over-hyping some hot deals.

      To sum up: You take the good with the bad, and what do you have? The facts of life.

    2. Good points. But hype helps entrepreneurs too. And hype definitely starts with the investors. Just look at how people reacted to companies at the Launch Event this week. Those who got the “hype” were the ones who got the investors hot and bothered. And, as David says, hype isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

  7. Robert, do you see yourself becoming an investor at any point in the future? At first I thought that this meant you were on AngelList doing angel deals. You’ve been pretty right so far about companies like Siri, Flipboard, etc…