CryptocurrencyInvestingBanksReal Estate

Venture Capitalist Threatens To Quit If Taxes Are Raised

September 30, 2016, 6:55 PM UTC
TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2014 - Day 3
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Khosla Ventures Board Member Keith Rabois judges onstage the Startup Battlefield Finals at TechCrunch Disrupt at Pier 48 on September 10, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)
Steve Jennings — Getty Images for TechCrunch

It’s been nearly a decade since I began writing about the taxation of carried interest, which is the cut of profits that venture capitalists, private equity pros and other types of money managers receive from successfully investing other people’s money. And I’ve consistently argued that carried interest should be viewed by the IRS as ordinary income, rather than as a capital gain.

Many of those arguments have included a note about how no prominent venture capitalist or private equity investor has said he or she would find another line of work, were their taxes to become higher via a reclassification of carried interest. But now, it seems, that note needs revision.

Keith Rabois, a longtime Silicon Valley tech executive (PayPal, LinkedIn, Square) who joined Khosla Ventures in 2013, says he’s moving on if such a tax change occurs

Rabois, who first expressed this sentiment in a tweet, tells me that he would have no financial incentive to remain a general partner in a VC fund, when he instead could invest as an angel and/or serve as an advisor to startups in exchange for equity (i.e., maintaining the more favorable long-term capital gains tax treatment). He acknowledges that not all venture capitalists would have the same flexibility nor opportunities, but insists that this would be his path.

That said, Rabois does not believe such a tax change actually will occur (at least not for venture capital), despite such promises from both major party presidential candidates (Trump even name-checked carried interest during Monday night’s debate). In short, he believes he would be counterproductive to economic growth, without enough offsetting revenue (again, specific to venture capital).

So that’s one. Anyone else want to add their names to the list? Send me an email.