Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Meet Someone Who Still Wants to Invest in Start-Ups: Founders Fund’s Dave McClure

davemcclurestillIt’s a whole lot harder for the start-ups buzzing around South by Southwest to find someone to back them than it was a year ago. A decimated Dow makes it a lot harder for people to take fliers on even the most promising start-ups.

But there are still investors willing to place some bets, even on the most nascent companies. Via the angel-investing program he’s running for the Founders Fund,
Dave McClure is one of those guys.

Founders is a VC fund run by Valley bigshots like Peter Thiel, most of whom made a lot of money when they sold PayPal to eBay (EBAY) many moons ago. Last year, they brought on McClure to handle smaller investments than they would normally make.

Founders Fund, which already owns a piece of Facebook, has already made bets on the burgeoning Facebook app ecosystem via the “fbFund,” so McClure is particularly interested in those types of companies. Which explains why I found him at the Facebook “Developer Garage”–a Facebook-sponsored mini-convention held on the outskirts of SXSW.

But McClure chatted with me about non-Facebook investments as well, and why it’s easier to find interesting deals now that he isn’t competing with amateur angels who made their money at Google (GOOG) and Yahoo (YHOO).

Bonus footage: Want to see what I look liked during this interview? I don’t recommend it, because grooming standards got a little relaxed over the weekend. But for diehards, here’s a (sped-up) version of our chat, from a different angle, via The Interwebs, which filmed me filming McClure. Down the rabbit hole we go:


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus