Bessemer Ventures has a fascinating page on what they call their “anti-portfolio” — basically, companies that they refused to invest in, that went on to become HUGE successes. In Bessemer’s case, these include Apple, eBay, Fedex, google, and Intel.
I think this is a great idea, especially if the various GPs at Bessemer (and other funds) regularly revisit this, or a similar page – both to build some humility, as well as remind themselves to keep their eyes open.
We chose to decline the investments below, each of which we had the opportunity to invest in, and each of which later blossomed into a tremendously successful company.
Our reasons for passing on these investments varied. In some cases, we were making a conscious act of generosity to another, younger venture firm, down on their luck, whom we felt could really use a billion dollars in gains. In other cases, our partners had already run out of spaces on the year’s Schedule D and feared that another entry would require them to attach a separate sheet. Whatever the reason, we would like to honor these companies — our “anti-portfolio” — whose phenomenal success inspires us in our ongoing endeavors to build growing businesses. Or, to put it another way: if we had invested in any of these companies, we might not still be working.