A few years ago, Blockchain looked like it was going to disrupt Venture Capital. And I still think it will. But maybe not the way everyone expects.
When it comes to discussions about venture capital and blockchain, most of the attention has been on funding - raising money. Crowdsales, ICOs, IEOs, STOs. There has been a lot of excitement about the potential for blockchain to disrupt the traditional venture capital funding model.
And as a long time venture capitalist, I’ve been excited about this possibility. It’s always better when companies have access to more capital. But Blockchain promises not JUST more capital, but something else even better - liquidity. If you’re a venture investor, being able to get liquidity in a relatively short period of time after you make your investment, is ….remarkable. Because VCs wait FOREVER to get their bacon back.
Do you know that venture capitalists typically wait 7 to 10 years, before they can cash out of their investments? Sometimes even longer. So the ability to sell a portion of your investment - in the form of a token - would be very attractive.
So far, however, it’s been a slow road. Security tokens, tokens that represent a stake in a company, have not taken off. The main reason for this is regulatory uncertainty. Right now, almost no exchanges can trade, security tokens. Which means, today, blockchain is not, quite yet, disrupting venture capital funding. It has the potential, but a few things still need to happen.
So if Blockchain isn’t disrupting the venture FUNDING model yet, is Blockchain disrupting any other part of the venture capital industry? I’d say yes..but it’s still early. What am I referring to? Capital structures - meaning the “acceptable” corporate structures that venture capitalists will put their money into.
Now you might not be aware of this, but venture capitalists are like stubborn old mules when it comes to their corporate structure preferences. If corporate structures were ice cream flavors, venture capitalists would choose plain vanilla. And what is the plain vanilla of corporate structures? The Delaware C Corporation. That’s where they want to put their money.
But here’s the thing. Delaware C Corporations are not always the best way to set up a business. Sometimes, an LLC would be much better. Sometimes, an off-shore entity would be better.
Now some of you might be asking a very good question about now, “better for who?” Often, better for the founders. And sometimes, better for the founders AND the investors.
I was a CPA a long time ago. That’s certified public accountant. And CPAs know that different corporate structures provide different benefits. For instance, maybe you’re a business owner in Wyoming and you would like a Wyoming C Corporation. You might say to the VC, “hey, Wyoming C corporations are pretty much vanilla too, can I use one of them”. And the venture capitalist is going to say, “Yes, it’s Vanilla, but not, plain vanilla. That Wyoming thing is more like, french vanilla. And we only like... plain vanilla.”
Despite the fact that hedge funds, private equity firms, and major corporations of the world all use different corporate structures, venture capitalists have stubbornly resisted doing anything innovative on the corporate structure side. Which is kinda odd, when you consider that venture capitalists are supposed to be these flexible, open-minded, thinkers.
So back to Blockchain. Blockchain businesses have done more innovative work around corporate structures in the past 10 years, than venture capitalists have done... in the last 50 years. And if VCs want to invest in the Blockchain revolution, they’re going to have to be more open to different, and better structures for all stakeholders, not their old fallback...the Delaware C Corporation. This is a fantastic development.
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