Collusion Charges Still Linger Over `AngelGate'

The latest Silicon Valley online guessing game: Was price-fixing on the menu when a group of high-profile tech investors met recently at a downtown San Francisco restaurant?

Last week TechCrunch's Michael Arrington was tipped off to the existence of the meeting, which he subsequently wrote included a discussion of how to collude to keep down costs and keep out competitors.

The subsequent flurry of finger-pointing and denial hasn't shed much light on what exactly went on at the meeting. But that has only made the affair that much more fascinating to watch as it offered a rare glimpse at the simmering rivalry between some of the so-called angel investors behind many successful start-up companies. After learning about the meeting, Ron Conway, one of Silicon Valley's heavyweight investors, publicly slammed the participants - singling out another angel investor, Dave McClure, for his "unprofessional classless writings."

As luck would have it, Conway and McClure were featured panelists Monday morning at a conference organized by the tech blog TechCrunch. But if any of the spectators were hoping for more pyrotechnics in the flap which has since become known as `AngelGate,' they came away disappointed.

"I've said everything I want to say about it on my blog," McClure said.

"I think all of the e-mails cover it," said Conway, when asked for his comment on the affair. "So we're not going to have a Jerry Springer moment," Arrington quipped.

For the record, Arrington claims that his sources indicated the topics included:

Complaints about rising deal valuations and they can act as a group to reduce those valuations

How the group can act together to keep traditional venture capitalists out of deals entirely

How the group can act together to keep out new angel investors invading the market and driving up valuations.

More mundane things, like agreeing as a group not to accept convertible notes in deals (an entrepreneur-friendly type of deal).

One source has also said that there is a wiki of some sort that the group has that explicitly talks about how the group should act as one to keep deal valuations down.

True? False? Somewhere in between? Whatever the truth, this much is clear: the affair generated the kind of advance publicity that every conference organizer only dreams about. Too bad the main event failed to meet the pre-game hype.