For two reasons, I really like Fred Wilson’s recent blog post on hypothetical value to real value. Firstly, it is structured in the way that I think good blog posts are structured. He starts with a personal story (about this son) and then uses that to take a position and impart some knowledge about the venture capital industry. It makes for a more engaging read. Secondly, I like how he describes the journey and spread between hypothetical value and real value:
Venture capitalists and seed funds and angel investors make or lose money on the journey from hypothetical value to real value. And when the spread between the two narrows, the money we make is less. When the spread increases, the money we make is more. It is easier to drink your own Kool Aid in the world of hypothetical values. You handicap the odds of winning more aggressively. You trade ownership for capital at work. You accept the new normal. Real value doesn’t move so fast. Because it is right in front of you. You can see it. So it is not prone to flights of fancy. I try to keep this framework front and center in my brain as we meet with founders and work to find transactions that work for everyone. I find it to be a stabilizing force in an unstable market.
All of this is related to the notion that you make real money when you’re right about something that most people think is wrong. Because that would be hypothetical value. If it were real value, then everyone would simply believe it. It would be “right in front of you.” And this is pretty much true of all competitive marketplaces, including the real estate industry. Risk and uncertainty create opportunity.