Are super-angels extinct?

December 8, 2010: 10:52 AM ET

Super-angels may look like venture capitalists and raise money like venture capitalists, but they continue to deserve a different classification.

By David B. Lerner, contributor

As we all know by now, all the major league super-angels have pretty much raised their own small funds. Ron Conway's got SV Angel,  Aydin Senkut runs Felicis, Mike Maples runs Floodgate, Chris Sacca's got lowercase capital, Dave McClure of course runs 500 Hats and Chris Dixon's one of the crew at Founder Collective.

Many of them of course still get called "super-angels" by entrepreneurs, VC's and the media- and I'm certainly guilty of doing this as well.  Recently, though, two guys I respect a great deal, Jerry Neumann and Mark Suster, have been quite adamant about why doing this is just wrong. Jerry actually took me to task in a very gentlemanly way here and we discussed it again in a recent one-on-one conversation. Mark of course came right out and called the super-angel an extinct species when he recently spoke up at Columbia! I think he was only being slightly tongue-and-cheek.

Their main point is that once super-angels actually start investing via these small funds, (thereby accepting other people's money), they are officially VC's and there are no "if, ands or buts" about it! Mark told me there's absolutely no nuance to this issue when I asked him this recently.

So why does this even matter and who cares? I guess the deeper, "meta-level" importance of what they are saying is that no matter how great/prominent an angel you've been in the past, once you're managing LP money you can no longer 'masquerade' as a touchy-feely angel who is "all about the entrepreneur" in that you have a very strong fiduciary obligation to your investors. Nor should you be "calling-out" traditional VC's publicly as if you are really any different for that matter. More

  • Super-angels must be "making a buck"

    Just when AngelGate looked to be cooling off, Ron Conway dumped a few gallons of lighter fluid on the Bin 38 crowd. In an email sent to attendees -- which included Conway partner David Lee -- Conway wrote, in part:

    I want to clarify once and for all my total disagreement with your values and motives for being investors... I have stated consistently for year that I invest because I love MORE

    - Sep 24, 2010 1:04 PM ET
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