Computing legend says Australian VCs greedy, nasty

Influential computing engineer and entrepreneur – and inventor of “Bell’s law” – Gordon Bell has criticised attitudes in Australia’s venture capital environment as greedy and risk-averse.

Bell was profiled over the weekend by The Australian Financial Review, claiming venture capitalists in the country were behaving “almost like bankers” and demanding huge amounts of equity for minor investments.

"I can't tell you how bad the whole Australian venture community is, the angel community is, they are just nasty," Bell told The AFR.

“They are greedy. They are not giving back. The people who make money, to me, have tremendous responsibility to give back."

Bell, researcher emeritus (retired) at Microsoft Research Silicon Valley, also criticised the local university system for its emphasis on publishing research, rather than getting this into the market.

Bell lives in San Francisco, but spends four months a year in Sydney. He has invested in over 100 start-ups, inluding some in Australia.

His comments come during a period with an apparently high focus on innovation, with finance considered one of the missing pieces in Australia’s innovation environment.

There are signs this may be improving, for example with over $600 million scheduled to be raised in 2016, which would be the largest amount since Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association Limited (AVCAL) started its Australian Venture Capital and Private Equity Yearbook.