Pecked to Death by (Tim) Draper

The current Fortune magazine has a short piece on how DFJ venture guy Tim Draper is newly the hottest venture investor going. Writer Adam Lashinsky correctly says that in some Sand Hill circles Tim is sniffed at as a combination of mad animal and wild-eyed venture investor (hey, he dressed as Batman once), but there is denying this year’s results.

Because no-one would sniff at having had Baidu’s IPO and Skype’s purchase by Ebay on their track records this year. But, typical for Tim, both came in through unusual channels. The former came in via a DFJ affiliate fund, and in Skype Draper front-ran DFJ via his father’s fund.

Here is Lashinsky on Draper’s shotgun technique for venture investing:

Some investors study one area so deeply they become experts. Others simply back the best entrepreneurs. A third type invests only in companies that aim for giant markets. Then there’s the Tim Draper method, which is a bit like using a machine gun to shoot a fleeing duck: Fire enough bullets at the darn thing, and something will hit the target.

As a sidenote, try to find many/any venture partnerships where a) you could do the following, and b) where talking about it publicly wouldn’t create rifts in the partnership:

Pankaj Shah, CEO of mobile-phone search company 4INFO, recently pitched his company to Draper’s firm but was rejected. Days later, on a flight home from Los Angeles, Shah sat near Draper, who agreed on the spot to overturn the partnership’s decision.


  1. First of all, congratulations to DFJ and Tim! When all the other vc’s are sitting on their hands, scrutinising deals for months, getting a healthy dose of analysis paralysis, annoying the heck out of the founders and chickening out at the last minute- these guys are going out there and actually getting some work done.
    Kudos to Tim for single handily doing more for innovation and American economic growth than all those other vc’s out there who either don’t know what they’re doing or don’t have what it takes to make it in the industry.
    Which brings me to my point: Tim is a pro. He has an investment thesis. He buys the market. “Fire [ing] enough bullets at the darn thing” is just another word for risk efficient portfolio management. Tim understands that venture outcomes are subject to randomness, that’s why they take the shots no one else will and get the results that they do.
    I say, half the vc’s I know out there, a) gotta get some balls b) get a clue for what actually determines venture outcomes – tip, it’s not the bullshit I just wrote in my business plan.