Venture capital in an age of algorithms

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We live in an age of algorithms. Cheap computing and abundant software have brought huge advances in all kinds of fields. Data scientists are accurately making algorithmic predictions about weather, sports, disease, political elections, romantic partners and even box office hits.

Meanwhile, venture capital remains pretty old school. It is more art than science. So why aren’t more VCs using data science to guide their investments? As chief technical officer of Ironstone Group, a data science-based venture investment company, this is a question I’m especially interested in.

Venture capitalists (VCs) hear lots of pitches from startups, and usually use their personal intuitions to separate the good from the bad. For an elite few, this intuition-driven process has delivered fantastic returns. Yet most of the roughly 500 US-based VC funds have performed rather poorly, with the national venture capital index showing negative industry returns for the 2000 – 2010 decade. This…

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