Next Things First

“Fleeing Angels” in This Tough Economy by charlottegee
February 3, 2009, 1:51 pm
Filed under: angel investors, economy, innovation | Tags: ,

The New York Times today added yet another article to the pile of depressing news on how this long cold winter just keeps getting tougher for entrepreneurs and innovators:

Angel investors are the optimistic financiers who give entrepreneurs their crucial first infusion of cash to bring their ideas to life. Now, in the midst of a punishing economic downturn that is sparing few companies, these patrons are cutting back on their bets and threatening the very foundation of the technology economy.

Unlike venture capitalists, angels invest small amounts of their own money — as little as $10,000 and usually less than $1 million — in very young companies. But like all investors, many angels suffered deep losses when the market plunged last fall.

That has left them skittish, investing in fewer technology start-ups and demanding more of those they do consider, leaving founders struggling to find money at the stage they need it most. The slowdown, entrepreneurs and investors say, could stunt the growth of new companies and have long-term effects on innovation.

Rob’s post on TechFlash in January highlighted the negative effects of a downtrodden economy on innovation (eerily similar to the Times article!):

The only good news for companies raising capital has come from high net worth investors and angel networks—but these pools of capital are reaching their limits. They cannot be expected to pick up all of the slack left by venture capitalists. So, as we move into 2009, we expect the companies “waiting it out” will finally launch fundraising efforts—and the demand for capital will significantly outstrip the supply. Angels won’t be able to keep up and the traditional venture community will remain focused on less risky deals and on reserving capital for existing portfolio companies. While I hope to be proved wrong, we are predicting that these trends will lead to continued loss of early-stage jobs and the unwinding of early-stage businesses. Worse, this will have a chilling on our Innovation Economy—shutting down a major engine of economic growth and job creation.

aerosmith30301On TechFlash today, John Cook wisely pointed out, also in response to the Times article, that “getting a good read on the angel market is nearly impossible, since it’s a nebulous group of unconnected investors who don’t necessarily share similar philosophies.” He asked blog readers to share their thoughts on the current angel market, and opinions are mixed, surprise, surprise.

Posted by CharlotteGee


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