I was raised catholic. Although no longer a participant in this tradition, I still remember the notion that angels are divine creatures that although invisible, walk silently on our side to protect us from danger.
In the investment sense, an angel is not quite the same.
An angel investor is someone who cleverly has noticed that “regular investment strategies” do not return high multiples anymore. I get a smile on my face when I read over and over that angel investment is “really risky”. In today’s environment what investment is risk free? What investment remotely provides the possibility of high returns? Hedge funds?
For those of us semi risk averse, mutual funds have returned less than 4% over the last seven years. Most of my returns come from investing in Colombian real estate. This wonderful place has given me close to a 50% return over the last same seven years.
Angel investors know that it is more fun to work with early stage entrepreneurs than it is to sit neurotically in front of a computer watching stock prices manically go up and down. Computer screens don’t need value added. Entrepreneurs do. Angels are not in the business of doing favors. They are in the business of investing and adding value to an early stage company while having fun.
I firmly believe that fundable ideas get funded. Angels are all looking for that awesome opportunity of an early exit with a high multiple behind it. If your idea isn’t getting enough traction, it might need refinement.
Those of us who don’t live in Silicon Valley often hear the fairy tale that local angel investors are hiding. We often hear that angels don’t want to be public figures. Do these investment creatures belong to a sub-group of divine entities not easily accessible? I don’t think so. Real angels with real wings are public figures. It is in their interest to be public so that they can become targets of awesome investment opportunities. Angels who hide, might have lost their wings.
In plain biological terms, the angel-entrepreneur partnership is a symbiotic rather than a parasitic encounter. Entrepreneurs benefit angels everyday around the world.
My short list of angels follows:
Marc Andreesen, Tim Armstrong , Michael Arrington, Andy Bechtolsheim, Gil Beyda, Marc Benioff, John Borthwick, Sergey Brin, Larry Braitman, Bret Bullington, Paul Bushheit, Jason Calcanis, Ron Conway, Jeff Clavier, David Cohen, Jordan Cooper, Dennis Crowley, Michael Dearing, Seam Dempsey, Chris Dixon, Pietro Dova, David Duffield, Esther Dyson, Roger Ehrenberg, Caterina Fake, Peter Fenton, Lauren Flanagan, Russ Fradin, Bob Geras, Paul Graham, Georges Harik, Kevin Hartz, Rob Hayes, Glen Hellman, David Hirsh, Reid Hoffman, Bill Joy, Mitch Kapor, Jawed Karim, Josh Kopelman, Joe Kraus, Manu Kumar, Ashton Kutcher, Joshua Kushner with Thrive Capital, Greg Lee, David Lee, Peter Lehrman, Max Levchin, Ben Ling, Marissa Mayer, Mike Maples Jr, Dave McClure, Paul Martino, Ann Miura-Ko, Dave Morin, Babak Nivi, Alex Ohanian, Larry Page, Aaron Patzer, Frank Peters, Shervin Pishevar, Brian Pokorny, Keith Rabois, Geoff Ralston, Naval Ravikant, Adeo Ressi, Miriam Rivera, Kevin Rose, Chris Sacca, Joshua Schachter, Eric Schmidt, Aydin Senkut, Ram Shriram, Brian Singerman, Miles Spencer, Jeff Stewart, Biz Stone, Jeremy Stoppelman, Mark Sugarman, Peter Thiel, Rick Thompson, Salman Ullah, Martin Varsavski, Robby Walker, Evan Williams, Andrew Weissman, Andrea Zurek
and of course the Golden Seeds.