Something about Angel List reminds me of my recent visit to an animal shelter. There are always too many wonderful animals (companies in this case) for any one person to help, and the process can become quickly overwhelming. What's worse, if you are slightly obsessive, you might be tempted to not bite off more than you can chew, i.e., taking home too many animals or committing to too many investments. The reason is simple. The vast majority of ideas aren't actually that bad.
If you have ever watched a reality talent show, you see the same surplus of positive play itself out. America's Got Talent just finished, but with The Voice and X Factor competing head to head, my week is full of singers who unfortunately are pretty good. There are always those for whom their ambitions and self-awareness do not match their actual talent, but for the unlucky majority, their fates have less to do with how well they sing.
Startups are at least luckier than those in music. Discovery is no less tricky, the competition no less crowded, but you can succeed easier based on factors within your control. A friend close to the music industry was telling me about an artist we will all know in the near future. He wanted to get a certain performer to join him on his track. He wasn't any better or more deserving, but he knew the right person, and so he ultimately will have that artist on his track. There just isn't an API or viral coefficient for that. It doesn't make startup success ultimately easier.
There is was an article in Business Insider recently that described Google's record acquisition year. They bought a startup every other week basically. Including Facebook's purchases and Apple's the total acquired still numberred fewer than 50. Even if we look at every strategic buyer, and lucky for all us, Terence Kawaja has created such a Lumascape, we have a universe of 1500 companies. Checking Angel List, there are 90,000 startups listed. Each company would have to acquire 60 companies for everyone to have an exit. Sticking to just the likely strategics in digital, more companies are produced by the top accelerators in a single batch than are likely purchased in a single year.
We can democratize so many things, and that has lead to improved discovery. I feel it has it has helped the edges. We can now cut the crap faster and expedite the top 0.01%, but we're a long way from helping the vast majority where it's not how good they are that will ultimately determine success. It's a blend of how well they execute, luck, and who they know, where the latter two can go a long way with the former but the former can rarely ever be enough to do without any of the latter.