Superangels.. the new funding landscape

There is an interesting essay from the Paul Graham, about what’s changing in the funding market and startup environment. LINK

Here some extracts:


For decades there were just those two types of investors, but now a third type has appeared halfway between them: the so-called super-angels. [1] And VCs have been provoked by their arrival into making a lot of angel-style investments themselves. So the previously sharp line between angels and VCs has become hopelessly blurred.

There used to be a no man’s land between angels and VCs. Angels would invest $20k to $50k apiece, and VCs usually a million or more. So an angel round meant a collection of angel investments that combined to maybe $200k, and a VC round meant a series A round in which a single VC fund (or occasionally two) invested $1-5 million.


The no man’s land between angels and VCs was a very inconvenient one for startups, because it coincided with the amount many wanted to raise. Most startups coming out of Demo Day wanted to raise around $400k. But it was a pain to stitch together that much out of angel investments, and most VCs weren’t interested in investments so small. That’s the fundamental reason the super-angels have appeared. They’re responding to the market.

The arrival of a new type of investor is big news for startups, because there used to be only two and they rarely competed with one another. Super-angels compete with both angels and VCs. That’s going to change the rules about how to raise money. I don’t know yet what the new rules will be, but it looks like most of the changes will be for the better.

A super-angel has some of the qualities of an angel, and some of the qualities of a VC. They’re usually individuals, like angels. In fact many of the current super-angels were initially angels of the classic type. But like VCs, they invest other people’s money. This allows them to invest larger amounts than angels: a typical super-angel investment is currently about $100k. They make investment decisions quickly, like angels. And they make a lot more investments per partner than VCs—up to 10 times as many.

The fact that super-angels invest other people’s money makes them doubly alarming to VCs. They don’t just compete for startups; they also compete for investors. What super-angels really are is a new form of fast-moving, lightweight VC fund. And those of us in the technology world know what usually happens when something comes along that can be described in terms like that. Usually it’s the replacement.