Jason Calacanis is to shack up with Sequoia Capital, Silicon Valley's leading venture capital partnership, Techcrunch has the jump on the story. Michael Arrington says Calacanis will be an entrepreneur-in-residence, though the former Weblogs Inc founder, who lives in Santa Monica, won't actually be resident. Usually that means that an entrepreneur gets to look at some of the business plans that come in to a partnership, and jump in as CEO; or that he or she gives the VC firm first look at any original idea. It's pretty astonishing news, for two reasons.
First of all, it's a major step up in status for Jason Calacanis. His first venture, Silicon Alley Reporter, brought much attention, but no financial return. And, even since the success of Weblogs Inc,, which was sold to AOL for about $25m, Calacanis' abrasive personal style has made it hard for him to win the uniform respect of his peers. An association with Sequoia, which backed Yahoo, Google and Youtube, gives Calacanis' reputation a sheen that his stint at AOL never could.
Second, this is further evidence that Sequoia is investing seriously in an area that Silicon Valley venture capital has typically avoided: media. Used to be that VC firms demanded proprietary technology as a pre-condition of investment. But the success of venture such as Youtube has shown that user interface and speed of execution can be more important than technology in providing some kind of sustained advantage. The investment by Mike Moritz, Sequoia's most influential partner, in Popsugar, the gossip site for women, suggested a shift. The embrace of Calacanis confirms it.