A VC Wiki Solution?

Yesterday Jeff Nolan raised the idea of creating a VC wiki as a central repository for all of the valuable content created by venture bloggers as of late (spurred on by Brad Feld & Jason Mendelson’s Term Sheet Series). I asked the same question in a post two months ago – is it time for a venture capital reference wiki?

Since that blog entry I’ve had a number of conversations about the idea, both over e-mail and in real-time. And because of these, my thinking has changed. My own new thoughts on the issue are as follows:

1. Reference vs. opinion material. Much of the content which would be included is not necessarily purely reference material as I first believed, but really advice-based content. Though it is not time-sensitive (like most other information in wikis to my knowledge), it is indeed opinion-based, as opposed to purely factual. So while Allen Morgan’s Ten Commandments from Entrepreneurs is a great timeless series of pieces to continually refer back to, I see it as inherently different type of content than, say, that found on Wikipedia. Somehow to me, the type of material we are discussing doesn’t neatly fit into a reference wiki form.

2. Whose content is it? My hypothesis is that some of the leading VC bloggers would prefer not to decouple their content from their own site, as they would like to retain the associated authorship of such work. (Note that I am not attempting to ascertain the intentions of anyone specifically, just making a broader general comment.) An attempt to create a site that includes VC authors’ text (with citations) rather than just links to their text on their own sites may go against the grain of how the spirit of how their content to was intended to be used. And I agree with this sentiment from a reader standpoint as well – there is value not just in citing an author of the content, but also tying the content with an author. Because much of the content is advisory rather than just factual, I want to know who is communicating it to me.

3. Limiting conversation. An attempt to create a go-to reference site for VC advice (as a living document continually evolving with consensus) limits open and outwardly facing discussions of the issues at hand in the blogosphere. While there are often cases where there aren’t severe disagreements on certain topics, I would think that there are subtleties to many issues at hand which are worth highlighting in conversational format (as opposed to a reference one).

Because of all of the above concerns, I don’t think that a VC Wiki is necessarily the best way to proactively archive the extremely useful time-insensitive content that is emerging in the VC niche of the blogosphere. Perhaps the better way to approach the situation is to be proactively organized about tagging content of this type in delicious, as both Brad Feld and Toby Padilla suggested in comments to my original post. I’ll think about that notion more. That being said, both Ross Mayfield and Tom Shields are hosting viable VC Wiki sites that could be used as a platform, if consensus moved in the other direction. Other thoughts and reactions? Obviously this is an evolving discussion.

David Beisel

David Beisel is a co-founder and Partner at NextView Ventures. He has been focused on early stage Internet startups his entire career, both as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. As an investor in the digital media space, David was most recently a Vice President at Venrock and previously a Principal at Masthead Venture Partners. Prior to becoming a venture capitalist, David co-founded Sombasa Media, an e-mail marketing company best known for its flagship product BargainDog. Sombasa was successfully acquired by About.com where David served as Vice President of Marketing. David holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an AB in Economics, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Duke University. He also founded and leads the Boston Innovators Group, an organization which holds quarterly entrepreneur events drawing a thousand attendees.

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