AngelList is working on a new project called Maiden Lane. Behind this name is a new experiment in startup investment. Structured as a traditional small VC firm, Maiden Lane will only invest in AngelList syndicates or hand some money to active angels on the platform.

A big challenge for investors is piercing management's feel-good, "it's all great if you leave out the bad stuff" earnings metrics to measure a company's true profitability. Even the official GAAP accounting numbers frequently need plenty of scrubbing to reveal the real picture. For example, many companies claim victory by boasting that their ratio of net profits to shareholders' equity is a big number. Investor beware: Management can hike "return on equity" by piling on debt, and high leverage makes the player riskier, not better. Another tactic, now in vogue, is moving factories that make the most profitable products to low-tax nations where the taxes may not remain low for long. That tax arbitrage provides a one- or two-time boost in earnings, but doesn't prove management is running the basic businesses any better.

Published in Deals & Funding