Illustration by Aleksandar Savic
By Erin Griffith
July 12, 2017

This article first appeared in Term Sheet, Fortune’s newsletter on deals and dealmakers. Sign up here.

Last week CB Insights asked its readers to vote on a Twitter debate I got myself sucked into.

The background: Phin Barnes of First Round Capital criticized Goodwater Capital, a fellow VC firm, for publishing a detailed analyst report about Blue Apron. (First Round is a Blue Apron investor. Goodwater published a similar report for Snap.)

I asked Barnes whether he thinks every VC firm is required to support every startup, and he said, generally, yes: “Those in the industry should support the industry.” I disagreed.

So the question, posed informally to the readers of CB Insights’ newsletter, was, “Should VCs avoid public criticism of the industry / startups?”Here are the final results, which show 12% of voters agree with Barnes and 88% believe investors should feel free to criticize:

I expected it to be a lot closer. I understand how close-knit and intertwined the startup “ecosystem” needs to be in order to work. And I’ve been called a “hater” by plenty of thin-skinned founders. (Shout-out to the one that called me a “bat-sh*t crazy b*tch” for writing the truth about his acqui-hire deal! 😘)

But in the era of “open secrets” being exposed amid real questions about Silicon Valley’s culture and ethics, I think many in the industry are now wary of suppressing criticism of any sort. The era of blind cheerleading may be over.


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