A parody Twitter account hits a nerve with Silicon Valley VCs
Investors either are loving or blocking @VCBrags, which retweets investors' best brags.
A parody Twitter account is getting under the skin of some Silicon Valley venture capitalists by quoting their words back to them verbatim.
In four short months, @VCBrags has amassed more than 31,000 followers and prompted a number of VCs to block it — including luminaries like Marc Andreessen and Paul Graham — all without saying a single word. Its entire shtick: Retweet boastful posts from VCs, and top them with three withering hand-clap emojis.
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"I think it's hilarious," said Day One Ventures founder Masha Drokova via Twitter DM. Her tweet about the two-year anniversary of her firm was retweeted with the three claps by @VCBrags in January. "If I were a founder, I'd never take an investor lacking self-irony and it's funny to see how many VCs upset with this account."
Action shot of @creditkarma VCs trying to write the customary "congratulations" tweets while avoiding @VCBrags pic.twitter.com/UWk2mxoJsC
— Andrew Reed (@andrew__reed) February 24, 2020
Not everyone is laughing, however. Susa Ventures partner Leo Polovets said he rarely blocks Twitter accounts, but he told Protocol he blocked @VCBrags because he felt it was "basically shaming people who were celebrating wins." Yes, he admits, there are often VC tweets phrased in cringeworthy ways, and he gets why those would be called out, but he disliked that many of @VCBrags tweets focused on the more innocent statements, like when someone would say they were
proud to have worked with a newly acquired company since the beginning.
"I think it's good to celebrate wins — for investors and founders and everyone else — and calling out all celebrations instead of just cringey ones is depressing," Polovets said. "The events being celebrated are often the biggest wins in multiple people's careers, and it makes me sad that they're being called out and shamed for being happy and excited."
👏 👏 👏 https://t.co/utCp9hkC18
— VCs Congratulating Themselves 👏👏👏 (@VCBrags) February 25, 2020
The @VCBrags account got started in November after its creator said they were "just bored at work one day and thought it would be funny." Protocol got in touch with @VCBrags via Twitter DM, but they declined to reveal their identity or whether they work in venture capital. They claim to only run @VCBrags and none of the "cousin" accounts it inspired, like @VCComplaints (steamy angry emoji), @CEOBrags (OK-sign emoji) and @FounderBrags (the highly ambiguous raised hand emoji).
My entire feed is now people congratulating themselves! I may have to unfollow some of these parody acccounts. @VCBrags @founderbrags @ceobrags
Not that I'm complaining. Don't even think about it @VCComplaints!
— David Sacks (@DavidSacks) February 22, 2020
In some ways, its simple approach is what makes it so sneering: It simply retweets (or posts LinkedIn screenshots of) venture capitalists' own words and adds three clapping hand emojis.
That's something that gets under Polovets' skin. He's personally a fan of other parody accounts, like @VCstarterkit and the infamous @StartupLJackson, that offer more witticism and insight than just three golf claps. "I think those are clever, call the industry out on its BS in funny ways, and often surface things that real-name accounts are afraid to say," he said.
One of our favorite brags of all? We back talented, thoughtful founders who share our love of sugar. Thanks for the laugh, @nabeeleats and @Lunchboxtech! pic.twitter.com/tr69A6jmsj
— Primary Venture Partners (@PrimaryVC) February 26, 2020
All @VCBrags does is highlight the actual words of self-described venture capitalists and respond to their tweets with congratulatory gifs. It particularly loves when venture capitalists are
"thrilled" or "excited" by their investments or have announced they just made a bunch of cash. When the new year hit, and VC Twitter went predictably wild doing grand lookbacks about the decade and their achievements, @VCBrags was there, clapping away. And when a venture capitalist has some #personal news, like that they're riding in a nice car or have an "achievement unlocked," like appearing in a Harvard Business School study, @VCBrags is there.
"I think it's funny, but I stopped looking for approval from anyone a while ago," said Peter Pham, co-founder of Los Angeles-based Science incubator, who got a clap from @VCBrags after he told all of Twitter about his ride in a Porsche 1.
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The creator of @VCBrags is mostly amused by VCs taking offense or blocking the account. "These people are wildly successful and influential, yet they block a stupid parody account," they said. "Majority of VCs and angels are good sports and lean into the silliness, but some are surprisingly thinned skinned despite all the big talk and 'thought leadership' on social media."
As the account has grown, plenty of venture capitalists have actually embraced the silliness and are tagging @VCBrags (and even @VCComplaints) in their own tweets.
"If I saw something mean-spirited in it, it would be different, but all these accounts are doing is retweeting VC," said Craft Ventures founder David Sacks in an email. "Apparently our industry has a tendency towards self-congratulation or self-flagellation. My feeling is, let's just embrace the absurdity of it."