Tipping the Scale
Yesterday, Crain’s reported on some eye-popping Tumblr numbers from PrivCo, suggesting VCs reaped huge rewards, including a 5,000 percent return of $253 million for Union Square Ventures, $154 million for Spark Capital, and $77 million for Spark partner Bijan Sabet.
Almost immediately, Bijan Sabet and Fred Wilson fired back, calling the report “garbage” and refuting the specifics (without coughing up what they actually made). Dan Primack (who’s tangled with PrivCo before) calls the report “a load of Yahoo.” He says USV and Spark actually put $13 million each into the company ($350,000 of it seed funding) and got around $192 million each. Not too shabby, but not the jackpot PrivCo alleges, either.
Well, this morning PrivCo responded to the critics, on Twitter, with all the rancor appropriate to the medium.
Along with their announcement of a $85 million series E funding round earlier this week, Tumblr offered some statistics on their explosive growth. Most impressively, perhaps, was the fact that the site now does 12-13 BILLION page views per month, an astronomical increase over this time last year.
But these numbers are perhaps even more staggering: Tumblr has only around 13 million users and 30 million monthly unique visitors producing this massive pageview count. The people who spend time on Tumblr, it seems, are highly-engaged, and that’s what convinced the venture capitalists from Greylock Partners, who led this round, that real revenue and even profitability, is just around the corner. “They will succeed in working through that over the next months and years,” John Lilly, a partner at Greylock, told Reuters.
Venture capitalists have come down with a bout of seriously itchy feet. Just this week, we heard Union Square Ventures was raising a new fund, we broke the news that Andy Weissman was leaving betaworks for UVS, Polaris Venture Partners’ Mike Hirshland announced he was leaving the Boston fund to launch a new seed firm, and today AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka reports that Twitter will lose Fred Wilson (one of its earliest backers) and Bijan Sabet from its board by the end of the month.
According to Mr. Kafka’s sources, “there’s no bad blood behind the move.”
Betabeat has already documented the phenomenon of VCs forgoing the usual pitch process and urging you to steal their ideas instead. Spark Capital’s Bijan Sabet didn’t go that far. But wantrepreneurs with innovator’s block might want to take note of a post on his Tumblr this morning where he suggested that the proliferation of consumer electronics devices, the “multiple floating iPads” around Mr. Sabet’s home, could really use a way to distinguish between multiple users.