Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Kevin Rose Is AngelList’s Million-Dollar Man

Next time Kevin Rose makes an angel investment, he has more than $1.1 million at his beck and call to do it.

Rose is the current leading man on AngelList, where 245 people have committed to put their own money into any of the deals he does. He told them he expects five seed investments per year.

Digg founder Kevin Rose

Digg founder Kevin Rose

Rose has collected those commitments in just one week, since AngelList launched a feature that allows backers to put their money behind small investors as part of its investing syndicate product.

Rose does have a day job — as an investor, no less — at Google Ventures. Does all this support make him want to go solo? Apparently not.

“I’ll be syndicating my Google Ventures seed deals through AngelList whenever possible,” he said this morning. “I won’t be returning to the independent angel world — still full-time and focused on Google Ventures.”

Rose’s quick ascent to the top of the AngelList leaderboard reflects the fact that he is a tech celeb, having kicked off his career as a tech television show host, and has since become Internet-famous for founding the community site Digg (he also founded a company called Milk, which didn’t really go anywhere, and was bought by Google, leading to his employment there). Not to say that Rose isn’t a savvy investor; his personal deals include Twitter, Square and Ngmoco.

Rose said his backers are not just his fans; many of them are accomplished tech investors on their own. “If you look at the backers, these are insanely talented folks, founders, designers, really connected folks I’d like to have involved in my business,” Rose wrote via email today. He named as examples AngelList co-founder Naval Ravikant, author Tim Ferriss, Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann, key Facebook advertising engineer Yun-Fang Juan, and Facebook designer Bobby Goodlatte.

Besides Rose, the AngelList syndicates leaderboard is full of many familiar names, several of whom also happen to have invested in each other’s syndicates.

(And apparently, there is some flexibility in what will qualify as an angel, considering that Rose plans to channel his Google Ventures deals, and institutions like Betaworks are on the list.)

Path co-founder Dave Morin has more than $900,000 per deal, Launch conference creator and rabble rouser Jason Calacanis has more than $750,000, and Ferriss, Betaworks, Ravikant, Lee Jacobs, Brad Feld and Dan Bragiel all have more than $100,000. The leading woman on the list is Juan, now an EIR at the Social+Capital Partnership, with almost $50,000.

AngelList CEO Naval Ravikant

AngelList CEO Naval Ravikant

Ferriss and Betaworks have already completed syndicated funding rounds for startups: $2 million each for shipping service Shyp and sensor startup Estimote, respectively.

The syndicate program, which promises to give small investors more clout, has been met with glee by some and skepticism by others.

Various early criticisms include the expectations that angels may not be as good as VCs at helping companies through critical times, that startup founders will be turned off by angels bringing too much money and that the syndicate program is a popularity contest.

“All valid concerns,” Rose said today. “It’s really on a case-by-case basis; every company has different needs, depending on the stage.”

Ravikant of AngelList brushed off the criticism, too. “I haven’t seen a single problem or issue mentioned that isn’t solvable,” he said. “We are just going to execute on product. This is a 10-year mission, and our recent financing allows us to be very patient and focused.”

AngelList just raised $24 million, a round that was coincidentally co-led by Google Ventures. (Those looking to find conflicts and overlaps won’t have to try hard!)

However, AngelList this week turned off its email-invitation functionality, which helped angels ask people to join their syndicate, because it seemed too spammy, Ravikant said. He said the emails would come back as digests that made the terms of investing clearer.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google