Tim Draper of Silicon Valley paragon Draper Fisher Jurvetson was the morning keynote speaker at the 10th annual VentureNet conference in Irvine this week. The firm is very much a reflection of the named founder - excitable, smart and risk taking. DFJ is one of the VC firms that not only sets the tone for the ecosystem but is very early in identifying themes and trends that others will dutifully follow. Watch DFJ and you have a ring side seat to the evolution of venture finance.
So what does DFJ look for in investment ideas? According to Tim:
- Founders with passion, energy. Almost heroic but certainly leaders that are capable of accomplishing great things through others.
- Companies that are early and different.
- Business ideas or concepts that are unique. If an idea surprises DFJ, it is by definition unique because with their geographic spread and focus on emerging industries they see and hear just about everything.
- Unlimited upside - easy to say, difficult to grasp and even more difficult to predict.
- Ideas or concepts that will change the world - Google, Hotmail, etc.
- Industries that are in transition or where large, lazy bureaucratic incumbents dominate.
- Technology - as tech is one of the few operational elements of business that can propel a firm's growth exponentially.
What is DFJ looking at right now? Draper mentioned P2P, viral ideas, Open Source, Nanotechnology, Energy and especially clean energy technologies, video, wireless and creative content - big ideas and themes with great potential but indeterminate future. Businesses that will require smart passionate leaders; innovative operational and economic models; ideas that catch on quickly and overwhelm incumbents or create entirely new industries; and, fast growing companies powered by risk taking. Much like the VC juggernaut that Mr. Draper has created.