VENTURE CAPITAL NEWS SMORGASBORD FOR THE WEEK
Since there were a bunch of VC related news and posts, I thought I should just put it under one post for easy reading:
"VC Firms Have Trouble Putting Cash to Work" from WSJ's Startup Journal.
It was a mixed year for the venture-capital business, with firms raising more money through Sept. 30 than they did in all of 2004 -- but sometimes having trouble putting all that cash to work at attractive prices.
Some venture capitalists even say their industry may have bounced back a little too robustly from the devastating bust of 2001 and 2002. Valuations -- the price tags venture capitalists put on small companies in which they invest -- soared to the highest level in four years as of Sept. 30. That could put pressure on returns down the road, since investors are paying more for the same share of a company. (full article)
"Harvard Business School VC Conference" from Seeing Both Sides.
I had the priviledge of spending the day today back at Harvard Business School at a venture capital conference organized by the burgeoning entrepreneurship department. Professor Bill Sahlman (who has easily trained more VCs than any other professor) organized a spectacular affair with 60-70 VCs from around the world, although with a heavy Boston weighting. In addition to the riff raff such as myself, there were numerous luminaries there, including Arthur Rock (who wrote the business plan for Intel), Peter Brooke (Advent founder), Henry McCance (longtime head of Greylock), Jim Breyer (Accel), Rick Burnes (founder of Charles River Ventures) and others. And the speakers outshone the audience!
A few interesting perspectives shared today:
* Larry Summers, Harvard's President, emphasized the transformational impact that technological innovations in life sciences will have on our economy and lives, and the important role of the VC industry in taking projects out of the lab and enabling widespread distribution. (full post)
The next two links are coverage from the Churchill Club's Eighth Annual Top Ten Tech Trends Debate. Christine and I attended the event last Thursday and enjoyed the show. Tony was moderating and told me beforehand that it's basically a roast where everyone rips on each other. I thought Tony's initial jab at John Doerr was funny. He told John Doerr that he's been trying to contact him through Friendster and was wondering if he was using MySpace now. I looked around and most of the attendees didn't get it. The joke flew, like a jet, over their heads since it looked like most of the crowd was over 40 and probably never used either one of the services and probably never heard of Friendster.
John Doerr had his moments too when he started the trickle that became a shower on Accel's Joe Schoendorf. Schoendorf explained that he was in Shanghai and then NYC and then somewhere else a couple times, so Doerr started to roll his eyes. He mocked Joe about his overemphasis on where he travelled to over the past week. Ann Winblad made a similar hilarious poke when she started her thoughts on a trend by saying, "I was in San Francisco yesterday and the day before..."
"Venture capitalists predict top 2006 tech trends" from The Mercury News.
"VCs Spar Over Tech Direction" from InternetNews.com.
The hottest ticket in Silicon Valley Thursday was entry to the Churchill Club's 8th annual "Top Ten Tech Trends Debate," which included a panel of all-star venture capitalists.
A couple of sharp disagreements punctuated an otherwise friendly discussion between the business rivals at a standing-room only hall at the Crowne Plaza, Cabana hotel here.
Ann Winblad, partner in Hummer-Winblad, probably went the farthest out on a limb with her prediction that big enterprise software firms Microsoft, SAP and Oracle will lose dominance in the $100 billion application software market over the next 36 months.
"The Internet is having a very disruptive affect on the software market," said Winblad. "Open source and software as a service, and peer to peer versus point to point.
"And also the completely new pricing and business models for newer applications will redefine the applications space to make today's leaders tomorrows laggards."
No one on the panel agreed with her, though they all liked the idea. (full article)
UPDATE: Michael Moe brings another view of the Churchill Club event, "Here Comes the Sun"