Can we, at last, put to rest any whispers by jealous Sand Hill Road rivals about the strengths of Fred Wilson's portfolio? The New York-based venture capitalist, a partner at Union Square Ventures, has ably spotted the most profitable segments of targeted marketing and online publishing, from social bookmarks (Del.icio.us, sold to Yahoo) to RSS-feed advertising (FeedBurner, sold to Google) and now, behavioral ad-targeting firm Tacoda, sold to AOL for a reported price of more than $200 million. This deal is more than just a financial win for Wilson — it's a vindication of his entire strategy. Here's why.
Wilson's investment in Tacoda actually predates the formation of Union Square Ventures, but partner Brad Burnham argues more ably than I can that Tacoda shaped his and Wilson's thinking in forming their current firm. Two years ago, Wilson told writer John Heilemann that media and marketing would be among the worlds most transformed by the Internet — and most lucrative for venture capitalists, making New York, not Menlo Park, the ideal perch for spotting new ideas and new companies. With hundreds of millions of dollars worth of portfolio companies sold, he's looking increasingly right.