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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Notes from the Annual TiE VC Outlook Dinner Event - Boston

Great questions by leadership fellows at TiE VC event last Thursday night!

I wanted to report that several TiE fellows asked some very hard hitting questions, which gave the panel of VC's reason to pause. There were several hundred attendees, and when the moderator (Rob Weisman, Boston Globe) faltered, Anu, Ajay, and Parker picked up the slack. (Anu, Parker, Ajay, but not Parul, please update my comments; I am writing from memory, and I am sure I got things wrong. Everything about Parul is 100% accurate).

TiE VC Event
is a link to TiE VC event page, bios, etc.

First of all, Parul got us all started by sending out some very thought provoking links leading up to the event. Additionally, when the panel started to drone on a little too much, she inspired a txt message barrage that resulted in me suggesting that parker take off his pants in order to keep everyone awake...

... at which point Ajay asked about the role for VC in mobile (and other) software; he wondered if maybe the lack of VC-backed IPOs was the result of entrepreneurs bootstrapping and doing an "end around" the VC step... the panel dodged the question.

After a few generic questions (Bob Higgins is bullish on stem cells, and sees the inefficiencies of healthcare as a huge opportunity) Anu asked about the effects of current VC underperformance on the supply side of the business, from the entrepreneurial perspective. I think he was basically making the point that the poor VC performance can not be blamed on lack of capable, willing entrepreneurs or good, VC-able technologies. The panel started to answer this one, but then backed off, and basically replied that there were lots of good companies in the pipeline and a lot of good deals backed up.

Finally, Parker referred to Parul's article and pointed out that 40% (?) of VC returns come for 10% of of the firms, and that these are always the same firms. He wondered if there was going to be a shake out. The panel agreed, but didn't really say anything provocative.

All 3 questions seemed to imply that while VC is meant to serve a very specific type of deal, maybe VC has not done such a good job performing that deal over the past 10 years. While the panel kept falling back on the traditional "well... VC money only makes sense for VC-type deals," it was clear that something was in the air. Several other questions from non-leadership folks echoed the same sentiment...

Afterwards, 5 bain folks, and 5 TLP fellows stuck around, so we challenged them to a game of pick up basketball. Instead, drinks at the irish bar.

Maybe there is a sea change brewing? link
to a write up on VC industry outlook.

If anyone would like to pick up this discussion online, Parul set up a ning site, that has forums. Slightly different site than google app or google group, but the devil may be in the details. If there is interest, I am sure we can set something up.

If we do not change direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed.
- Chinese proverb


1 comment:

Amar Kendale said...

Great summary, I feel like I was there.

Can anyone (Parul?) send out a link to the ning forum?