Any venture capitalist worth his preferred stock will get a hangdog look on his face when he remembers the one that got away, especially if “the one” was a chance to invest in Facebook. Now Bloomberg is reporting that the shame of turning down Zuck in 2004–sending him straight to Palo Alto’s all too willing arms–has jolted New England firms awake.
Despite Boston’s claim as the birthplace of venture capital, its share of U.S. VC investments dropped to 11 percent last year, down from 15 percent in 2003. And, as the numbers show, Boston’s loss has been New York’s gain. Seven years ago, New York’s share of the nation’s venture capital was half of Boston’s. But in Q1, venture investments around NYC totaled $580 million, representing 10 percent nationwide, compared to Boston’s 11 percent share with $639 million in deals.
So what are New England investors gonna do about it? According to Bloomberg, they’re circling the wagons and heading back to the city. In addition to programs like Flybridge Capital Partner’s Stay in MA, which sounds like a heartfelt plea against empty nest syndrome, and incubators like Polaris’ Dogpatch Labs and TechStars Boston, angel investors are scouting campuses–perhaps looking for code written on dorm room windows–and moving from the suburbs back to the city to be closer to MIT and Harvard. The campaign’s worked on Greylock Partners, which moved its headquarters to Menlo Park two years ago only to move its East Coast office to Cambridge last year.
While Boston-based firms like Spark Capital, an early investor in Twitter and Tumblr, and Charles River Ventures have made high-profile social media investments. New York’s nascent tech scene may still have a better chance at finding the next Mark Zuckerberg–and understanding what he’s talking about. Says Bloomberg:
Part of the reason Facebook didn’t find funding in Boston, and that area firms missed out on the social networking boom, is because many didn’t grasp its significance, said Howard Anderson, 66, a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and co-founder of Battery Ventures. The average angel investor in Boston is about 55 years old. In California, it’s 32, he said.
NYC VCs, if you want to send us your ages, we’ll do a local tally.