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Bravo's 'Silicon Valley' gets the real Dave McClure treatment

November 02, 2012|By Jessica Guynn
  • Ben and Hermione Way, aspiring Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who star in the new reality TV series "Start-ups: Silicon Valley," get the real treatment from Silicon Valley investor Dave McClure.
Ben and Hermione Way, aspiring Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who star in… (Bravo )

SAN FRANCISCO -- Is it rude when an investor in the middle of a pitch grabs your Powerpoint presentation and flips through it?

"It is rude probably," colorful Silicon Valley angel investor Dave McClure said.

But McClure does precisely that when British brother-and-sister team Ben and Hermione Way, cast members on Bravo's new reality television show "Start-ups: Silicon Valley," hit him up in the series' first episode to back their lifestyle and fitness company -- with cameras in tow. They brought along their "pitch deck," the Powerpoint presentation that an entrepreneur shows an investor.

Hermione Way had reached out (apparently with an attention-getting rude gesture to appeal to McClure, who is famously fond of four-letter words). The show's executive producer Randi Zuckerberg, who knows everyone who's anyone in Silicon Valley, had given him a heads up that the Ways wanted him to take a meeting, McClure says.

It's their first pitch to investors (spoiler alert: All but one turns them down). So the pair is understandably nervous. And Hermione is hung over from the toga party she hosted the night before (and all that bickering with fellow cast member Sarah Austin). McClure, dressed in T-shirt, jeans and flip flops, finds her catnapping under his conference room table at the headquarters of his firm, 500 Startups, an early-stage seed fund and incubator. (Hermione confides later she was "mortified.")

The Ways get a very slow start in pitching their company, and McClure, who sometimes hears as many as 20 pitches a day, asks to see the pitch deck in the middle of the presentation and flips through it quickly.

Ben later comments he thinks McClure was "disrespectful" for "going through the whole thing and making his own judgments."

McClure says he was just trying to speed up the meeting.

"I have a feeling that comment was mostly for show," McClure said. "I don’t think he even thought it was rude. It was more for the camera."

Besides, McClure said, "I was on my best behavior."

"I am not ready to release the full McClure on TV," he said with a laugh.

He tells it like it is to the Ways. He tends to back businesses that are "reasonably rational" and "not super expensive" and that they should consider pitching "a larger investor."

McClure says he gave them all the consideration he gives anyone.

"It was a real pitch, and I did consider it," he said. "But it was kind of a strange situation. I was trying not to have any contrived reactions."

All Things D’s Kara Swisher had no patience for the Ways' whine. She says this is real Silicon Valley: It's an investor's job to go all "Judge Judy" on entrepreneurs.

"In my experience, McClure was awfully polite about grabbing the deck. And alls I can say is that Ben is very lucky he managed to avoid bringing his pitch deck near me," Swisher said.


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