First Mover: M.G. Siegler

The TechCrunch blogger talks about becoming a venture capitalist at the CrunchFund

Why did you make the switch to venture capital?

Ever since AOL bought TechCrunch in early October of 2010, I just started thinking about what I wanted to do next. I started thinking about venture capital and it just so happened that a couple of different VC firms approached me to gauge my interest. Those conversations kept progressing and, eventually, eight months later or so, I started to get really serious about it. I went to [TechCrunch and CrunchFund founder] Mike Arrington and told him. He said, "That's great," and then he said, "Well, I have this other thing that I'm trying to get together . . . "

You're still writing for TechCrunch, and we're here in the TechCrunch office. How are you dividing your time?

I do about two or three columns a week for TechCrunch focusing on Apple.

Which for you is nothing.

Which is nothing, right. I used to do at least two or three posts a day, usually more than that. Now I'm focusing on longer posts. I had been talking with TechCrunch about how to transition out–the timing was a bit inopportune because the whole situation [had just] happened with the CrunchFund and AOL. [When Arrington announced the CrunchFund in September, a controversy arose over his continued involvement in TechCrunch, and he was eventually pushed out.] But TechCrunch always knew that I was transitioning out, and we were able to come to an agreement on what I could do while still being on the VC side. I think we've got a good thing going.

How transferrable do you think blogging skills are to investing?

In some ways, very transferrable. In other ways, it's a totally new game. Of course, there are many [companies that have] good stories that aren't good companies [for investment]. That's been a learning process–not that I would invest in something that's going to be a train wreck just because it's a good story.

Wouldn't you be tempted, though? Just a little?

[Laughs.] Maybe. Maybe it'd be good for brand recognition.

Venture capitalists like to say that the best investors have experience running a startup.

I don't think we're actually all that different. TechCrunch, and VentureBeat before that, were startups themselves. We were on the publishing side of things, but we were all doing the startup lifestyle and we had to build these businesses on our own.

AOL is the biggest investor in the fund. What's your relationship with AOL?

I think it's mainly Mike who's doing most of the talking with them. As far as I know, the relationshipis very good.

People seem to think that anyone can get a seed investment nowadays. Is that what you're seeing?

I do think things are a little bit crazy, and I do think there is more activity than there should be in terms of seed deals. But there are also many more great opportunities than there ever have been. So it's no surprise, really, that there's more companies popping up. Yes, there are probably too many that are getting funding, but that's always been the case.

Would you invest in a tech blog?

If they had an idea for how to take something to the next level, I think we wouldn't be opposed to it.


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