During the '90s, a few people made a lot of money very quickly. VC funds doubled their size and halved their fundraising frequency over the previous decade. The community of two thousand venture capitalists in 1990 mushroomed to over twelve thousand practitioners in the second half of the decade.

But sometime around 1998 things got a bit sloppy, and "doing deals" and "getting money to work" became the name of the game. When Greenspan's "irrational exuberance" collapsed, money was lost even more quickly than it had been made, and many of the once-darling startups were cut adrift. Some of the best early-stage venture capitalists retired.

For most, the original craft of venture capitalism was unknown. And because of it, a good chunk of truly early-stage venture capital disappeared.