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4 posts from June 2010

June 30, 2010

Flybridge is Hiring an Associate - Know Anyone?

In the face of all the hoopla over the VC industry contracting, Flybridge Capital Partners is hiring an associate to join our investment team.  You can read the job description and learn how to apply for the associate position here.

Please feel free to pass this news around.  We would love to run an open process, as many other VC firms have done so successfully, to find a terrific candidate.

June 23, 2010

More VC Bloggers Needed (Seriously)

A cry for more VC bloggers is crazy, right?  There are already 150 or so who are actively blogging - which I estimate means 15% of all active VCs serve as bloggers.

Yet, we need more.  We need the life science and cleantech VCs to start blogging.

I was leafing through the NVCA's 2010 Yearbook last week while on vacation (go ahead, call me a geek) and was really struck by the amount of dollars that go towards the life sciences and cleantech portion of our industry as compared to IT.  Of the $17.7 billion of venture capital invested in 2009, only $8.3 billion - less than half - went into IT-related companies.  $6.1 billion (35%) was invested in life sciences companies and $3.3 billion in other companies.  Industrial/energy investments represent 13% of VC dollars.

Yet, When you look at the VC-entrepreneur dialog that's going on online, t's probably 90% IT-related.  Very, very few of the 150+ VC bloggers and Tweeters are from the life sciences or energy sectors.

It's really a shame, because we need to hear their voices.  

Take the following example - when the NY Times recently wrote a cover page article criticizing the human genome project as part of a 10-year look back, there was silence in the VC/entrepreneur blogosphere.  Imagine if the article were:  "Social media found to be useless" or "Broadband totally over-hyped, has no impact on innovation."  Whether the article is right or wrong, at least it would have stirred vociferous debate!

Another example - I was at the AlwaysOn/HBS conference yesterday listening to a lean start-up panel and Eric Ries claimed:  "lean methodologies can be applied equally to life sciences and clean tech start-ups".  Really?  That would be a great debate amongst VCs and entrepreneurs from those fields.  Who's going to lead the Fred Wilson vs. Ben Horowitz fat vs lean start-up equivalent debate?

There are a few standouts.  I applaud Rob Day (his blog is GreenTechMedia) of Black Coral Capital, Tom Pincince from our portfolio company, Digital Lumens, Bilal Zuberi and others who are beginning to add their voices to the mix in the energy sector.

But life sciences is really a black hole, with 35% of the dollars and probably <5% of the dialog.  Christoph Westphal's recent piece in the Boston Globe on how to address the continuingly high costs of drug development was excellent.  But because it was in a traditional media outlet, there was no dialog.  It's a shame the top 10 life sciences investors aren't taking the time to make their voices heard. 

Who out there from these sectors can we convince to start blogging?

June 10, 2010

Is the Sky Falling or Are We Entering a Golden Age?

The news headlines are grim.  Oil spills, sovereign defaults, choppy stock markets. tepid employment.  It's no wonder that the global capital markets seem spooked.

Yet, here's the strange thing, many of us in the technology sector have never been more bullish about what lies ahead.

It's like a tale of two cities.  Wall Street and the City of London are hand-wringing and doom-saying while Silicon Valley, Cambridge and Silicon Alley have never been rosier.  I attended my 15th Harvard Business School reunion last weekend and the contrast was striking.  On the one hand, capital markets professor Andre Perold was pointing to the jump in volatility as sign of the fear in the markets and bemoaning the fact that $60 trillion of global wealth had been wiped out since the peak.  On the other hand, my classmate Sheryl Sandberg (COO Facebook) was claiming that the Valley has never been crazier and, "Everyone I know is getting funded."

I was asked to give a presentation today at the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG), a group of 600 or so bankers and deal makers across a wide range of industries.  I think they asked me to speak because of my book, but I decided to focus instead on this question of whether the world is coming to an end, or whether there is reason for optimism in the long-run.  After wallowing in the data for the last few weeks, I've come down firmly on the side of optimism (no surprise?).  There are just too many positive secular trends that suggest the developments in wireless technology, human genome mapping, synthetic biology, energy technology and globalization won't continue to have an enormously positive impact on our planet in the decade ahead.

In fact, I would argue that the next decade will see an acceleration of innovation as compared to the previous decade, which itself has been dizzying.  I think we are entering a Golden Age of technology and innovation, despite the short-term economic clouds.  I end the presentation with a local view - that Massachusetts and the Innovation Economy is very well-positioned to take advantage of the opportunities ahead.  I would argue the same case could easily be made for New York City and Silicon Valley and perhaps other innovation centers as well.

Here is the presentation with the data to support this thesis.  Special thanks to my colleague Robin Lockwood for helping me put this together.  I'd love to hear your thoughts (view this video first, which I used to tee it up):

Golden age for technology and innovation

View more presentations from Jeffrey Bussgang.

June 03, 2010

Angels Soaring During Innovation Month

Dan Primack calls them the "rock stars" of the start-up ecosystem.  If you are a young start-up and aren't plugging into the myriad of angel investment vehicles percolating around the country, you are either clueless or one of the few who are super-wired already into the "Do Not Pass Go, Go Directly to $5M Series A" venture capital game.

Here are home, the angel community in New England is really starting to flex its muscles.  Thanks to Scott Kirsner's arbitrary declaration (and admirable leadership), June is Innovation Month in New England and there is a ridiculous amount of activity going on.

It started off on June 1st with Angel Boot Camp, a confab that gathered over 200 angels, VCs and start-ups.

Last night was Tech Stars Boston Investor Night, which continues to gain momentum heading into its second season, as well as the big annual the MITX Awards event.  Every night this month, there is something going on.  You can see the master schedule at www.neinnovation.com.

Many of these venues didn't exist 3-4 years ago - Mobile Mondays, Web Inno, Open Coffee, etc.  New events are coming to Boston this month, including the Open Angel Forum, which is June 18th.

And new institutions are popping up all over the place.  New seed funds, incubators (e.g., Project11 - which you'll hear more about in the coming days), the Founders Institute, etc.  And when you visit the local campuses, it's amazing how prominent entrepreneurship and getting access to the angel community has become.  Every school has a business plan contest.  HBS just completed a business plan contest not just for students, but for alumni as well.

Like I said, there's a ridiculous amount of activity going on, and the angels appear to be out in front.  At Flybridge we always joke that we treat our entrepreneurs like they're rock stars.  Kudos to the angel community for emerging as the new rock stars of the start-up ecosystem!