It is not like Sergey Brin and Larry Page came to you and you wrote them a check for a hundred grand just for an idea. That never happens in the venture capital world. Remember the first motto of a venture capitalist? “Ideas are cheap!”
The main reason people like Steve Jobs become a prophet is because they have imagination, which the majority of the investors, including venture capitalist, do not have (and do not need).
Retruning to the original question, what does a venture capitalist use, vision or imagination - the asnwer is - neither. They have no need for either. Contrary to the popular tale, vision, imagination and curiosity are not good for business. What is good for business is (1) communication (sort of motivational speaking, especially at the beginning of the career when no one yet knows you), (2) persistence, and a good share of a good luck.
If all venture capitalists are so visionary in selecting their projects, why 9 out of 10 projects they select die? Why didn't they see it and just passed on it?
Because they made a decisions not on any vision, but on their gut feeling - "Those guys seems OK. They already have a product which close to be profitable. Let's give them a shot".
Only for curious people.
"Free business ideas from Dr. Voroshilov: part 1"
"Free business ideas from Dr. Voroshilov: part 2"
BTW: imagination usually goes hand-in-hand with a true genuine curiosity (but who has time for questions which have no chance to bring any profit?). And the field of venture capital is just one example demonstrating that financial success does not require vision, curiosity, imagination. There are more.
Bill Gates and The End of An Era.
When both artificial intelligence and human intelligence fail – call it Facebook!
Will Artificial Intelligence Save, Replace or even Affect Education Practices? (a venture capitalist’s view)