Feb 16, 2024 - Business

"Be like Madonna": Venture capital enters its "dinosaur" era

Dinosaur in a suit illustration

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

For venture capital, AI is expected to be the next great source of opulent investment returns. For many venture capitalists, however, AI could be an extinction event.

The big picture: Most of today's top VCs are, almost by definition, legacy investors. They made their bones on the last major tech platform shifts, mobile and cloud.

  • That means they're at risk of being disrupted, just like legacy companies.
  • Some will prove smart enough, or lucky enough, to navigate the new normal, but not everyone's skills will prove transferable. Some may just give up once they realize how much new learning is involved.

Backstory: We saw a lot of this during the dotcom boom, when a new generation of VCs took the reigns from their analog peers.

What they're saying: "I'm always freaked out that I'm a dinosaur," Khosla Ventures partner Keith Rabois said during this week's Axios BFD event in Miami. "Age is not your friend as a VC. ... You kind of have to be like Madonna or something and reinvent yourself every decade."

The bottom line: Venture capital has never been great at innovating on its model, but it does have a history of cleaving off past champions. Expect that to continue, perhaps at an accelerated pace.

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