1. Old way of raising rounds (lead investor, minimum investment amount, fixed amount for round) is dead and is now being displaced by founder-controlled rounds with rolling closings - only a few companies are doing this as yet but they are among the best companies and thus it likely signifies a trend (pg).
2. Last year's huge unexploited opportunity for angels to fill the gap for fundings in the few hundreds of thousands range has now been capitalized upon, and it is now easy to raise funds in that range, with many angels having rushed in to fill the gap - the number of angels now investing is plentiful and growing (pg).
3. One of the downsides to the new investing ecosystem is that too many entrepreneurs are thinking small and executing small (Mike Arrington, in a quite wittily presented twist of the knife with, I think, tongue at least partly in cheek).
4. Key is to invest in people, as ideas can morph (Ron Conway - the man exudes character).
5. Angels can make money and have fun (the two primary motivators) and will find themselves more easily being able to align their sympathies with the entrepreneurs in the early stages than would be possible under the rules of the VC game (Mitch Kapor - who has been on both sides of that fence).
6. Even top-tier VCs are looking for angels to co-invest with in early-stage companies or from whom they can cooperate in receiving deal-flow (Greg McAdoo of Sequoia Capital).
7. It is critical to individual angels (as opposed to institutionalized super-angels) to apply some strict filtering rules, and to be disciplined in doing so, as a way of screening their potential investments - the field lends itself to a systematic approach (Joshua Schachter - very nice presentation, by the way).
8. Three major factors identified by YC companies in informal survey in deciding which to take among competing angel offers: (a) quality and reputation of the angel; (b) clean terms; and (c) willingness to move quickly and decisively (pricing of the deal as a factor came in nowhere near these three) (Sam Altman, in a subtly spirited presentation that emphasized the entrepreneur's perspective).
9. On the legal side, some 80% of recent early-stage funding deals in the presenting lawyer's recent experience have involved convertible notes (John Battista of Orrick - this surprised me, as such notes have fallen into some disfavor over the past year in my experience).
10. On the darker side, there is a trend of sorts in which entrepreneurs are doing quickie acquisitions involving, e.g., $20M deals coupled with rich option packages for themselves, leaving angels with basically a return of their money with little or no premium (a couple of the speakers referred to this).
And, last but not least, time to write that check (!), as there are an abundance of opportunities out there for angel investors.
Speaking from my own experience, this is undoubtedly true about the opportunities, as the investing ecosystem has shifted significantly toward the angels and away from the VCs in many ways during recent years - it is now almost axiomatic in founder thinking that VC funding is to be at least deferred while a company goes through at least one angel round in order to avoid too heavy a dilutive hit out the gate.
There were a variety of other excellent points made along the way as well, by Aydin Senkut, Andrea Zurek, and Mike Maples, among others, sharing points they have learned through some fairly extensive investing experiences. I would have jotted more detail on these as well but only had a 2 x 3 card to write on and ran out of space!
All in all, a quite stimulating conference. Thanks to pg and YC for making this possible (and for the invite).
i forgot to say a bunch of stuff. most of it was targeted at how to actually be an angel.
- stop going for crazy protective terms - if stuff goes pear-shaped, you lose your money. period. and it makes life harder for entrepreneurs as terms given up in the first rounds are never recovered.
- invest in people you would consider working for and with. you will be.
- learn to give a clean, proper no. it's hard, and i do this badly.
- don't sit on deals hoping they get hot.