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Emerging founders and investors in tech must be exuding extreme main character energy, because this week in tech was all about making their lives easier.
AngelList announced AngelList Stack, a new suite of products that will compete with Carta in providing services to help founders start, operate and maintain ownership over their companies. The new software will cover four bases: end-to-end incorporation, business banking, adviser equity grants and cap table management.
Here’s why AngelList isn’t worried about Carta, per CEO Avlok Kohli:
There are a lot of experiments around point solutions, around solving different problems for different point problems for founders. Our view is that founders prefer always being integrated into one bundle.
Moving into the world of founder support was a surprising but sensical move for AngelList, according to my Twitter DMs. The startup spent the last year growing its venture services business, after first piloting rolling funds, which allow LPs to back investors on a quarterly subscription model. Speaking of rolling funds, one of the first to launch was from Sahil Lavingia, the founder and CEO of Gumroad. He had some news of his own with AngelList this week, albeit in the world of scouts, or people who source deals for venture capital investors.
Lavingia is launching a new, pooled scout fund with AngelList in which each scout gets carry in their referred deal (5%) and an additional 5% in the whole pool of startups. In other words, he redirected 33% of his carry, or how much money the fund makes from portco exits, to its scouts.
The scout fund is unique because, while most funds may have scout programs today, it’s still super rare to share carry with scouts both from a pooled and individual perspective.
He explained why it matters on a personal note: paper trails.
I want to go super wide with this and build a very different kind of coalition of scouts. If they can prove themselves, and they get a paper trial that they have, I can help them get plugged into this ecosystem.
[Even with crypto] you’re seeing the financialization of all these relationships. Before, there’s kind of this informal handshake, pay-it-forward thing that happens in Silicon Valley, whereas with crypto, it’s kind of like “I’m gonna buy it in this transactional way knowing what the incentives actually are.” I’m sending you this deal, but let’s be real here: This is a business transaction and I’m sending you this deal so I think it’s good to codify it.
I actually don’t mind that I didn’t make any money off of Pinterest, but what is sometimes frustrating is that an LP won’t value the fact that I sent an investor to Pinterest [when it was valued at $5 million].
As Lavingia hints, a common thread between his effort and AngelList’s is that they both want to formalize processes — whether it’s starting a company or introducing an investor to one. It’s hard to philosophically argue against more transparency and distribution in entrepreneurship, but it’s also hard to pull off those goals in a way that actually helps those who need it most.
Think of it like this: AngelList wants it to be easier than ever to start a startup. But for whom? Lavingia thinks it’s great for scouts to get paid, in full, for companies that they spot and thus develop a track record. But what if the scouts are the same people that could probably start a rolling fund if they wanted to? I always worry that new bets, whether it’s a company going full stack or an investor sharing more of their carry, will want to de-risk from built-in volatility. In the end, democratizing access requires betting on historically overlooked people, and that’s a risk that venture clearly doesn’t make often.
It’s why AngelList and Lavingia have to go bold when building these new projects. Optionality (and affordability) is key when trying to usher in a new generation of innovators. But, they need to ignore the status quo of who full stack served in the past. Hell, they even need to take a page out of the crypto playbook.
In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll talk about frozen yogurt’s impact on consolidation, workplace benefits and a walk back on blitzscaling. As always, you can find me on Twitter @nmasc_ or listen to me on Equity.