NYC's Top VC Fred Wilson Is Rich . . . and Grumpy


Some of Wilson’s arguments are valid, but they don’t change the fact that—as Doerr reminded Wilson at the Summit—Facebook, Google, and Apple are three of the companies "driving the Internet today." And all three of those companies are in California—just like Twitter and Zynga.

Still, Wilson makes a solid case for why New York should take more of a prominent place in his industry. Asked in a 2009 interview to list the city’s advantages over Silicon Valley, Wilson said, "I think New York is a more creative place, I think New York is a more commercial place, and I think there’s a certain chutzpah of entrepreneurial energy that’s resonant in New York broadly." At the 2010 summit, he pitched New York as the place where "the fashion world, the finance world, the marketing world, the advertising world, entertainment, media . . . are colliding with the Internet."

But he acknowledges that New York has obstacles to overcome. "The perception is that [the West Coast] is where you need to go to build a great company," Wilson said in that 2009 interview. "One of the things we have to do here in New York is we have to change that perception."

Problem is, Wilson himself isn’t doing nearly as much on that front as he could be. He, personally, is in a very good place—USV now makes its investors more money for each dollar they invest than any other venture capital firm in the world, according to Preqin, a private equity data company. But New York City isn’t. There’s no Twitter, never mind a Facebook. There’s not even a Zynga.

"[What] we really need is a huge IPO in a really sustainable company that trades up and really becomes a 30, 40, 50 billion dollar company," Wilson said in 2009. "We haven’t had that."

The city is still waiting for something that big. Getting there may require a leader who is willing to acknowledge his role—to be more huckster than Hamlet.