Though some data suggest a rightsizing trend is occurring in venture capital, the future of the business actually looks promising.
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At least that is what Paul Graham, one of Silicon Valley's most prominent start-up investors and the founder of incubator Y Combinator, said Monday in a blog post.
One trend: Launching a start-up is getting much cheaper, and that will result in a power shift.
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"The fact that start-ups need less money means founders will increasingly have the upper hand over investors," Graham said. "You still need just as much of their energy and imagination, but they don't need as much of your money. Because founders have the upper hand, they'll retain an increasingly large share of the stock in, and control of, their companies. Which means investors will get less stock and less control."
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But just because founders won't need as much cash doesn't necessarily mean that investors will make less.
Because starting a company is getting less financially demanding, the number of start-ups will grow. That translates to an increase in the "total amount of desirable start-up stock available to investors," Graham said.
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In fact, he said, we can expect the top venture capital firms to make even more.
"High returns don't come from investing at low valuations—they come from investing in the companies that do really well," Graham said. "So if there are more of those to be had each year, the best pickers should have more hits.
"There should be more variability in the VC business," he said. "The firms that can recognize and attract the best start-ups will do even better, because there will be more of them to recognize and attract. Whereas the bad firms will get the leftovers, as they do now, and yet pay a higher price for them."
But some low-cost investors could have a big opportunity under the right conditions, Graham said.
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Founders' core work comes to a halt during the fundraising period, which makes it an expensive process for the young company, he said, adding that it's a prime chance for low-cost investors to undercut the rest—but they have to move quickly.
"If there were a reputable investor who invested $100K on good terms and promised to decide yes or no within 24 hours, they'd get access to almost all the best deals, because every good start-up would approach them first," Graham said. "It would be up to them to pick, because every bad start-up would approach them first, too, but at least they'd see everything."
—By CNBC's Cadie Thompson. Follow her on Twitter @CadieThompson.