Case | HBS Case Collection | September 2013 (Revised November 2013)

AngelList

by Ramana Nanda and Liz Kind

Abstract

In early 2010, Naval Ravikant and Babak Nivi posted a list of angel investors on the Venture Hacks blog as a resource for founders looking for funding prior to seeking venture capital. The list quickly evolved into AngelList, a separate matchmaking platform for founders and investors to make early stage fundraising more efficient. By June 2013, AngelList had garnered substantial media attention, and was used by many high profile angel investors and venture capitalists. It had approximately 100,000 startups and 18,000 accredited investors. Since the site was launched, almost 40 startups on AngelList had been acquired, and over 2,000 startups had been funded. For most entrepreneurs, posting a profile on AngelList had become as commonplace as setting up a personal profile on Facebook or LinkedIn. Most recently, the site added Invest Online, a new product that in partnership with SecondMarket, allowed accredited investors to make small investments—as low as $1,000—in startups at the same terms as larger investors.

While the co-founders were proud of AngelList's growth, as of June 2013, they were not charging for its use and had not yet determined its business model. Ravikant and Nivi wondered if they should reconsider and have AngelList apply for broker dealer status so it could charge transaction fees, but they were reluctant to enter what they considered a regulatory minefield. The recently passed JOBS Act was expected to relax constraints around crowdfunding, and Nivi and Ravikant knew that would be a logical extension for AngelList as well. Finally, they wondered if they should avoid any potential regulatory issues altogether and instead focus on generating revenue primarily from recruiting and other ancillary services.

Keywords: angel investors; finance; venture capital; entrepreneurial finance; Finance; Entrepreneurship; Investment; Financial Services Industry; United States;

Citation:

Nanda, Ramana, and Liz Kind. "AngelList." Harvard Business School Case 814-036, September 2013. (Revised November 2013.)