Why VCs Write the Way They Write
Both Matt Mireles and Mark Davis write about startups. Both write well, and both are must-reads for entrepreneurs. But their blogs are really, really different. Matt is controversial -- he's gone after a number of high-profile targets over the past couple months, including David Rose, just about every venture capitalist and New York itself. Matt's writings are about working outside of the system, struggling against larger institutional forces in an attempt to hack together a company. Mark's (or Larry Lenihan, or Phin Barnes or any number of VCs)'s writings are insightful, but they focus on learning the ropes and working within the existing system to achieve success. For the visual learners among us, I've thrown a few startup and VC bloggers I like to read on a chart. I guess this is my form of a blogroll. Apologies in advance to anyone not included, I love you too but I budgeted 10 minutes to make this damn thing:
The placement of the dots is a gross estimate, but you get the point. While those at the VC-oriented side of the spectrum tend toward more educational, less controversial fare, entrepreneurs tend to be a bit more inflammatory.
Does this mean that VC bloggers are more restricted by the environment of the VC firm and the potential downside of annoying entrepreneurs or (worse) LPs or other partners? Maybe. But just as controversial writings could be enabled by freedom, controversy is also a tool for gaining pageviews and notoriety. Just look at compete.com's chart of The Metamorphosis, Matt Mireles' blog.
Plus, you have to consider supply and demand. There are fewer VCs than entrepreneurs, and content written by VCs simply tends to be in greater demand since they are the ones dishing out the money to young entrepreneurs. So you could say that VC bloggers are don't need to write controversial content in order to get noticed. It's certainly true with guys on here like Fred Wilson and Mark Suster -- they write controversial stuff when they want to, but they certainly don't need to start crafting linkbait.
I'd argue that it's not only smart, it's necessary for anyone in the startup world to pay close attention to the entire spectrum. Focus too much on the VC writings and you'll lose sight of the bigger picture and the way founders really think about things. Focus too much on the entrepreneur crowd and you're just delusional -- and missing out on a lot of good posts.