The default way to do venture capital

Marc Andreessen, who started Andreesen Horowitz, has said that the “default” way some do venture capital is to check boxes: “really good founder, really good idea, really good products, really good initial customers. Check, check, check, check. What you find with those sort of checkbox deals, and they get done all the time, is that they often don’t have something that makes them really remarkable and special.”

Instead, Andreessen follows this credo: “Invest in strength versus lack of weakness.” Of course, some startups with extreme strength are also extremely flawed.

“One of the cautionary lessons of venture capital is, if you don’t invest in the bases with serious flaws, you don’t invest in most of the big winners. And we can go through example after example after example of that. But that would have ruled out almost all the big winners over time,” says Andreessen.

“So what we aspire to do is to invest in the startups that have a really extreme strength, along an important dimension, [so] that we would be willing to tolerate certain weaknesses.”