“With this single investment I’m done. As soon as I get my liquidity event I will party like there’s no tomorrow.” This is what Brian Cohen told us in 2012, when Alessandro and I interviewed him for “Tech and the City”. The investment was in Pinterest, the popular social network used to share photos, organized as collections of pictures on a pin board. Founded in Palo Alto, Silicon Valley, by three youngsters under 30, and launched in March 2010, Pinterest has become one of the most visited sites. “I helped them start and guided them as a mentor to become what they are,” said Cohen, who is Chairman of the New York Angels since October 2011. He was one of the very first investors in Pinterest.
Now Pinterest is valued $12 billion or more and has just confidentially filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering that should happen in the next few months.
So, congrats to Brian Cohen! Can’t wait for a toast with you!
The New York Angels are the most active group of this kind of investors in the US. It’s very risky and tough job, Cohen explains: “I call it a contact sport. You have to be in contact with the business and the industry, so that you can really sense it. I used to say that I have a nose for news. I think the same way about angel investing: you develop a nose for it; you can smell it. There are many studies that say that there is a positive correlation between the amount of due diligence and the success of companies. Duh, you do more homework; you get better grades.” Cohen calls angel investing a “contact sport” also because those who practice it can get hurt and bleed, lose a lot of money due to the high rate of failure of startups and because it takes a long time, even ten years, before they can sell the shares. That’s why Cohen is against crowdfunding for startups.