Washington Post: The case for old entrepreneurs

People under 35 are the people who make change happen,” said venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, “People over 45 basically die in terms of new ideas.”
Khosla, who believes that old entrepreneurs can’t innovate because they keep “falling back on old habits,” said this at the NASSCOM Product Enclave in Bangalore, on Nov. 9.
He isn’t alone in his views.
Silicon Valley VCs talk openly about their bias toward young entrepreneurs. Some argue that Internet entrepreneurs peak at the age of 25.
Khosla and those who think like him are wrong.
The young may have good ideas, but there is no substitute for experience. You aren’t born with the management, marketing and finance skills necessary to turn ideas into successful ventures. This obsession with the young may be why the venture capital system is in such steep decline and underperforms key public market indices, such as the Russell 2000. VCs are doing themselves a big disservice by ignoring the real innovators: old, experienced people.
In 2008, I led a research team in exploring the backgrounds of 652 U.S.-born chief executive officers and heads of product development in 502 successful engineering and technology companies established from 1995 to 2005. These were companies with real revenue — not just the start-ups founded by the college dropouts that some venture capitalists like to fund. We learned that the average and median age of successful founders was 39. Twice as many founders were older than 50 as were younger than 25. And there were twice as many over 60 as under 20.