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 became a prophet is because they have imagination, which the majority of the investors, including venture capitalist, do not have (and do not need).
One simply does not need imagination to make a choice about something already seen right around a corner. One does not need to imagining it, it is already seen! One can already see the most important details and weigh the probability of the return. In most cases, an investor puts the money in an already existing company, with a solid team, an existing product, structure, infrastructure, and the clear financial streams. No imagination is required, but math; the company is seen as an amplifier; if I put $X I should get back $X*K, where K > 1.
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.
As I wrote in "A Curios Case of a Risky Entrepreneur":
Quote: "The most important quality of every successful entrepreneur is not his or her knowledge, technical skills, or even intelligence, but communicability – an ability to convince people in their ideas.
There is one – and only one (!) – difference between a con man and an entrepreneur.
That difference is (wait for it!) – intention.
A con man wants to convince people in something a con man knows is false.
An entrepreneur wants to convince people in something an entrepreneur believes is true." End of quote.
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 based on any vision, but based on their guestimation - "Those guys seem OK. They already have a product that is close to be profitable. Let's give them a shot".
I would like to end this piece with the quotes from two very smart people (taken from another post “People have to get over this idea that because the guy is rich he’s that smart”):
You can watch them saying it on YouTube.
The general take on social hierarchy is provided in
The Biggest Lie of The Humanity
Free stuff (because brain works, but the field is not mine)
"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.
Will Artificial Intelligence Save, Replace or even Affect Education Practices? (a venture capitalist’s view)
Was Mr. Jeff Bezos a visionary, is he still is, and will he remain to be such?