What Can You Do if a VC Pulls Their Term Sheet?

Shown Above: The author Mark Suster, Partner, Upfront Ventures

Shown Above: The author Mark Suster, a 2x entrepreneur turned VC. He joined Upfront Ventures in 2007 as a General Partner after selling his company to (Source)

What Can You Do if a VC Pulls Their Term Sheet?

term sheet

I was asked to answer this exact question on Quora and I did so some time ago. The beauty of evergreen content is that it resurfaces all the time and it is as relevant today as it was years ago when I answered it. One of my favorite ways to resurface content is when I see people on Twitter put out a Tweet linking to an old post. Tech Tidbits did this with this Quora answer and also linked to a Pinterest board with my quote, which I love.

Sorry for using fuck two posts in a row. This isn’t Dave McClure secretly taking over Mark’s blog. I’m just writing verbatim what I wrote in a Quora response years ago.

So, what can you do?

Legal actions = zero.

A term sheet is not a legally binding document.

Retribution actions = lots.

But why bother. There are bad people in life, yes. But the negative cycles you’ll spend on trying to bad-mouth somebody aren’t worth the effort. At worst you potentially have others question your intentions and most people don’t like people who bad mouth others (they often – perhaps wrongly – assume that while the VC was probably ill-intentioned there was also probably something wrong with you or your business. You know that’s not true but trust me others will have doubts.

My recommendation?

Get even by getting funding, building a great company and always know that the best “fuck-you” in life is success.

Of course you should eventually warn other entrepreneurs you know 1-1 in private. I recommend waiting for a cooling off period. As they say, “Revenge is a dish best served cold” because if it’s recent it comes across as more petty.

Finally, know that the VC & entrepreneurial worlds are very, very small. We trade in information all day. I have spoken with many VCs in the past about which VCs pull out of deals. The market has a way of self-regulating bad behavior. So if you’re a VC – you better have a pretty damn good reason for pulling out of deal after offering a term sheet. There are times where it is warranted. But they are few and far between. Your word is your bond and pulling out screws founders with other potential investors.

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