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November 7, 2007 4:56 PM

Naveen Jain: Venture capitalists are "the antichrist"

Posted by Brier Dudley

Naveen Jain was on a roll Tuesday night at The Indus Entrepreneurs annual funding forum, needling venture capitalists at every turn.

More than 100 startup types, investors and big-company employees attended the event, sponsored by the Harvard and Wharton business schools. Companies pitched their businesses to a panel that awarded prizes of cash and services.

Everyone at TiE knows Jain, who left Microsoft to start and run InfoSpace during its turbulent years before founding Intellius in 2003.

So Jain had some fun when he was introduced by moderator Todd Dean of the Keiretsu Forum.

Jain said he thanks God "for keeping me away from VCs," drawing a roar from the capacity crowd at the Courtyard by Marriott.

Jain turned to the audience, flashed a big smile and kept on going.

"They are probably the antichrist of entrepreneurship,'' he said, adding that "they like early stage investing because they can take the most of it."

He also suggested that TiE consider having a "No-funding forum for entrepreneurs" and later said that "anybody who takes $120 million -- they're fat pigs and they deserve to be slaughtered."

A colorful caution, but remember that Jain made buckets at Microsoft and was worth $8 billion before InfoSpace tumbled in the dot-com crash.

Jain was sitting across from panelists Mark Ashida, managing director of OVP Venture Partners; Greg Gottesman, managing director of Madrona Venture Group; and Andy Dale, managing partner of Buerk Dale Victor.

Next to Jain was Raghav Kher, who also left Microsoft to start successful companies -- Rendition Networks and Seventymm, a Netflix-like service in India.

Kher gamely came to the defense of venture financing, saying it made sense for him.

Finally, the venture capitalists responded, with Gottesman taking the lead.

Gottesman objected to the antichrist reference, but said he agreed with some of what Jain was saying. Venture capital isn't for everyone, he explained, especially if an entrepreneur can go it alone and doesn't need cash flow.

"This is not something you go into lightly,'' he said.

Venture capital should be more for companies that need to really grow and pursue big markets, he said:

"Most companies shouldn't take venture capital," he said. "Our capital is expensive. It's preferred stock. We get it out first."

Gottesman's final advice: people should ask around for advice, since a lot of TiE members had worked with Madrona and other venture firms, but, "Please, don't call Naveen."

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