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Does Google Ventures 'Lowball' Start-ups? Kevin Rose Responds

Last week, Y Combinator's founder argued that Google suckers start-ups into bad deals. Google Ventures partner Kevin Rose responds.
Y Combinator founder Paul Graham (left) and Google Ventures partner Kevin Rose

Last week, in a bit of juicy tech gossip, Business Insider leaked an internal memo from Y Combinator founder Paul Graham in which he urged his incubator's start-ups to stay away from Google Ventures. In the memo, Graham wrote:

Just focus on other investors instead. Maybe you'll find enough from other sources that you can blow off GV. Or maybe you won't, and you'll need that offer to fall back upon. Either way it's better to wait.

Immediately, Bill Maris, managing partner of Google Ventures responded, telling Business Insider, "I don't know what Paul's thinking... It's just not true. Our portfolio speaks for itself."

In the days following the leaked memo, several tech blogs speculated about the potential beef between the incubator and venture firm. VentureBeat, for instance, surmised that Graham had ulterior motives when he made the statement because Y Combinator competes with Google Ventures to invest in similar early-stage start-ups.

On Tuesday during an on-stage interview at TechCrunch Disrupt, Kevin Rose, a partner at Google Ventures and founder of Digg, denied Graham's claims.


We're absolutely not going out there and trying lowball these companies. At YC, you see an $8 to $12 million cap on the notes. There's a range. Some start-ups are worth $20 million and some are worth $4 [million]. For me, you meet an entrepreneur, and you assess how much risk there is in the business, and you decide how much you want to invest. I'm closing four YC deals. Three of them we took straight up, and another there was too much risk. I didn't see it as an $8 million company.

Rose added that when he looks at deals, he's looking for companies that are truly disruptive, and isn't afraid to be honest about his valuations. "I don't want to invest in the next Pinterest for cats," he said.

And as for as the beef between Google Ventures and Paul Graham, Rose says the disagreement was amicable enough.

"No one is mad at anyone," he said. "It was just one of those things."

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