The Devil We Know: An Open Letter to Fred Wilson Defending The Merits of Corporate VC

Dear Fred:

We have the utmost respect for you and your amazing track record speaks for itself. We aspire to generate the types of returns you have demonstrated in your career, and we recognize you as a key figure in our industry. It’s fair to say you are one of our VC heroes.

In fact, it is your role as a leader that drives us to respond to your most recent commentary against corporate venture capital, in which you said that corporate VCs are “the Devil” while on stage at a recent financial conference. We know you have a long-standing dislike for corporate venture capitalists (CVCs), and at Touchdown, where we partner with leading corporations to manage their venture capital programs, we actually use you as a warning: “Fred Wilson says that most corporate venture capitalists suck. Let’s build the kind of VC practice that Fred would respect.” No joke, we actually have a Fred Wilson slide in our pitch deck. Your criticisms of corporate venture capital helped inspire us to start Touchdown a little over two years ago, with a goal of conducting corporate venture capital activities professionally, and in a way that is aligned with traditional institutional VCs.

Because you are a recognized and vocal leader, your words have real impact; and it would be a disservice to impressionable entrepreneurs and other VCs if you were to dissuade them from working with quality corporate investors who can help them grow successful businesses. We agree with the occasional times you have gone on record saying that corporate VCs can bring something to the table with comments like “We like working with corporate investors in the right situations.”

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