February 23, 2009
Thomas Friedman has been opining that the federal bailout ought not to be limited to old school industries like finance and autos, and that the federal government should also be spurring innovation by putting capital to work through VCs.
While I can appreciate the need for dramatic actions to save our banking system and the auto industry, Friedman’s proposition scares the hell out of me, and, I’m sure, every other VC out there who is worth even a fraction of their salt. Bill Gurley, Fred Wilson, and some others from VC-land have also spoken out. As Fred aptly states:
The top venture firms don’t want, don’t need, and are never going to take government money.
I have actually had the pleasure of 5 years in the public sector in DC. And, having seen the cesspool up close and personal, no businessperson should want the federal government’s “help” unless the situation is really, really, REALLY dire. And, even then, only if there is a compelling national interest at stake.
So Mr. Friedman, while I have enjoyed several of your books and columns, this time I have to say you’ve hit upon a really lousy idea.