Founder’s perspective on AngelList syndicates

AngelList recently launched a new feature called syndicates. In simple terms, it allows investors to get behind other investors and invest together as a group (termed a syndicate). The investor who facilitated the deal takes a carry of 15% (interest over a positive return – such as an exit or IPO) – not unlike VCs. In fact, this structure effectively turns angels into fund managers.

Many investors already chimed in, such as Jason Calacanis (The great venture capital rotation), as a syndicate “leader”, and Hunter Walk (Angel vs. Angel), Fred Wilson (Leading vs. Following) and Mark Suster (Is it a big deal?) as VCs. But what does it mean for startup founders?

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An Accent Can Be An Advantage

A recent interview with Ycombintator’s Paul Graham on Inc. created somewhat of a backlash online for his comments on using startup founders’ accent as a filtering criteria for future success.

(You should click over to the original tweet to see the long discussion thread that ensued)

The original quote was:

One quality that’s a really bad indication is a CEO with a strong foreign accent. I’m not sure why. It could be that there are a bunch of subtle things entrepreneurs have to communicate and can’t if you have a strong accent. Or, it could be that anyone with half a brain would realize you’re going to be more successful if you speak idiomatic English, so they must just be clueless if they haven’t gotten rid of their strong accent. I just know it’s a strong pattern we’ve seen.

(Emphasis mine)

Paul makes two points:
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There are no x10 developers, but there are certainly 1/10 ones

I keep seeing the term “x10 developer” pop up recently, and I think it’s misleading and leads to a rock-star / primadonna culture that benefits no one.

“x10 developers” are, in fact, proficient developers, who are experienced with their stack and problem domain. Once you get to this point, you can still find room to optimize – some people are inherently more focused or talented and you can always gain more experience, but the difference between developers who are proficient at what they do will never be a x10 multiplier – it will be closer to a variation of 30-40% in productivity. In some extreme cases (super experienced, focused, and naturally gifted), you might even reach x2 times productivity over a baseline proficient developer (I’ve seen it in action).

On the other hand, you have developers who are simply not proficient. They either have no aptitude for programming at all, or are so inexperienced that progress is very slow as they are learning everything as they go. Those are the “1/10 developers” and they make proficient developers (i.e, professionals) seem like x10 developers.
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Medical Care in the U.S is Bad, But Insurance Sucks Too

There’s been a lot of media attention recently to the high cost of medical care in the U.S compared to other countries (see some nice graphs on this NY Times opinion piece). Most of the attention has been on medical care itself, with medical insurance getting a pass with reportedly low margins.

As someone who recently moved to the U.S (from Israel), I’d definitely put some of the blame for the cost disparity on the medical insurance system in the U.S. To explain why, I’ll relate from my own experience –
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