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Ronco Principle


Submitted By smc77
Words 561
Pages 3
January 2015
The Ronco Principle

No one, VC or angel, has invested in more of the top startups than Ron Conway. He knows what happened in every deal in the Valley, half the time because he arranged it.

And yet he's a super nice guy. In fact, nice is not the word. Ronco is good. I know of zero instances in which he has behaved badly. It's hard even to imagine.

When I first came to Silicon Valley I thought "How lucky that someone so powerful is so benevolent." But gradually I realized it wasn't luck. It was by being benevolent that Ronco became so powerful. All the deals he gets to invest in come to him through referrals. Google did. Facebook did. Twitter was a referral from Evan Williams himself. And the reason so many people refer deals to him is that he's proven himself to be a good guy.

Good does not mean being a pushover. I would not want to face an angry Ronco. But if Ron's angry at you, it's because you did something wrong. Ron is so old school he's Old Testament. He will smite you in his just wrath, but there's no malice in it.

In almost every domain there are advantages to seeming good. It makes people trust you. But actually being good is an expensive way to seem good. To an amoral person it might seem to be overkill.

In some fields it might be, but apparently not in the startup world. Though plenty of investors are jerks, there is a clear trend among them: the most successful investors are also the most upstanding. [1]

It was not always this way. I would not feel confident saying that about investors twenty years ago.

What changed? The startup world became more transparent and more unpredictable. Both make it harder to seem good without actually being good.

It's obvious why transparency has that effect. When an investor maltreats a founder now, it gets out. Maybe not all the way to the press, but other founders hear about it, and

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