Angel Investing and the Devil in Gil


We’ve been lucky enough to have heard Gil Penchina opine a lot. Unfortunately, most of this was well before he became known for angel investing and his Angel List syndicate, and was usually about his failed romantic exploits. Whatever — truth is we usually didn’t listen anyway.

But now we do, and gladly. Burnished to a brighter shine as one of the guys democratizing venture capital, Gil had a recent spot at TechCrunch Disrupt where he gave his candid thoughts on angel investing, the role of good fortune and market timing, as well as his amply illustrated reluctance to buy into the conventional hype about Venture Capital.

Gil has the keen ability to blurt out the things other people believe are probably true but don’t want to say publicly (and come to think of it, this trait is probably helps explain those, um dating debacles). Among the latest pearls are the following (and here is a sideline collection of sh*t gil says):

Many people get into angel investing to make a buck. Gil’s thoughts on what makes a successful angel? “they invest because they wasn’t to give back […] There are lots of ways people get non-economic payback: learning, networking, and relationships. These drive angels more than the money.”

Asked if investors provide significant value beyond their money, Gil’s thoughts on most Venture Capital firms: “I would say they are really good at marketing […] the reality is most companies succeed or fail because of the founders and the market timing. I’ve never seen a VC take over a company and help fix it.”

It’s an odd one, we admit, but Gil’s humbleness about his success that is particularly refreshing (and yes, we said “Gil Penchina” and “humble” in the same sentence, and without irony): “People underestimate how much the market, timing, and luck matter.”  We could not agree more.

(full disclosure: Gil is on ClearCreek’s advisory board, even if we usually can’t get ahold of him because he is at Burning Man).