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The Narrowing Ambitions of Venture Capital - Technology Review

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This is quite cutting:

Several essential constraints limit venture capitalists’ ability to promote true innovation. The first is that venture investors have financed a progressively narrower range of technologies. Recently, a few hot areas — most notably Web and social media — have dominated an increasingly large share of the venture landscape. While another smartphone app to identify the drinking establishment where your buddies are currently carousing may benefit fraternity and sorority members, it is hard to feel that such ventures address fundamental challenges facing mankind today. Investor Peter Thiel has aptly expressed the core anxiety: “We wanted flying cars. Instead, we got 140 characters.”

The problem isn't venture capital, per se.

It's that businesses that can be bet on with $10 million chunks of capital are not flying cars.

If you can only bet $10 million at a time, then websites and social media are the best use of capital.

If you want to fight diseases or launch rockets into space or build new forms of transportation, you have to be able to bet $100 million at a time -- or higher.

And it's hard to find a model that allows for betting $100 million at a time that allows for such high risk.