What Venture Capital and Art Have in Common


A unicorn appeared at a Silicon Valley event Wednesday night — in a screen print by the British artist Mark Wallinger.

Unicorns of the tech type – startups with a valuation over $1 billion – also were discussed at a cocktail party on the top floor of the Epiphany Hotel in Palo Alto. There, William O’Reilly, of the art-auction house Bonhams, and Jon Callaghan, a founding partner of venture-capital firm True Ventures, drew parallels between venture capital and art investing. Both markets, for example, drew about $50 billion in investments last year, they said.

Valuing a work of art or a startup is an art, they said. “The real issue we wrestle with is what is the valuation of the idea,” said Mr. Callaghan, an early investor in Fitbit Inc. “We’re trying to take something that’s 100% potential.”

What Venture Capital and Art Have in Common

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