US angels are treading fearlessly, says John Thackray, where fund providers are hestiating.
One reason why British entrepreneurialism failed under Thatcher was the lack of 'angels'. Angels in America (which is also the title of a current Broadway hit) are the backbone of small company start-up capital. Angels is the term used for private investors who will collectively plonk down an estimated $20 to $30 billion of enterprise capital this year. They are quite distinct from showbiz angels, the few hundred suicidal fat cats who in any Broadway season lose a few million in exchange for propinquity with glamour. Compared to entrepreneurial angels, the amount of capital raised by the venture capital investing community is chicken feed, about $4 billion in the best of years and lately running at no better than $2 billion as institutions have been soured by ventures in the early stages. While the moods of these well-suited managers, often connected to prestigious banks, are regularly covered in the media (are they sanguine or bearish? do they smile or do they frown?) the ubiquitous yet elusive angels are, like the heavenly kind, almost invisible.