My name is Spencer Lazar. I am a venture capitalist at General Catalyst. I grew up with the internet, spend my life thinking about how it can make our lives better, and work with world-class entrepreneurs to affect that chanage. NYC is my home. This is my blog.

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Monday
Jan062014

Hypothesis: The Best VCs are Happily Married

Venture capital is what many call 'a people business.' Investments decisions revolve around a number of factors, from market size & forces to unit economics to technology. But particularly in the early stages of company development, people are the primary determinant of success or failure.

When making go vs. no-go decisons, investors always have imperfect information. You never know whether the girl or guy you are sitting across the table from truly has the hunger or the skill to change the world in a big way. You don't know how they treat others, or how they behave when their back is against the wall. How fast a learner are they? Can they command the respect of people who are smarter than they are? You may be able to answer some of your questions, but never all. And no founder is perfect. At the end of the day, you have to just make a call.

The best investors in the world thrive in these circumstances. Some call it pattern recognition. Some call it gut. Nailing one home run investment can be chalked up to luck. But the jedis of the venture world are master evaluators of people.

It is for this reason that I've developed the hypothesis that the best VCs are also happily married, in their personal lives.  In evaluating a possible mate, you similarly have imperfect information.  You don't know what parts of your significant other's character are malleable or rigid. You don't know how they will react to loss or failure. You don't know if they will be different in the presence of wealth or fame. You don't know whether or not they will really be a good parent, or how they will look and feel when they are old.  We are all approximations of who we will once be, and in choosing a mate, we make our best guess.

I've had the opportunity of working with several world class venture investors in the past, and have generally found that they turn out to be truly happy in their marriages. Curious to know if you've found the same.

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (1)

I might posit the idea that what you're seeing are externalities of the times and conditions of the marketplace. I agree with you wholeheartedly (VCs are generally happy), but don't necessarily think it's a skill tied to VC, just someone who is generally successful. In contrast, I've seen a multitude of downward spiralling relationships in my industry, but don't think that reflects their ability to analyse people, they just live in dire times.

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPierce

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