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22

May

2013

Senate Judiciary Moves Immigration Reform PDF Print E-mail

Jennifer Dowling

Written by Jennifer Connell Dowling   
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The Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday approved S. 744, the comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced last month by Sens. Schumer, McCain, Durbin, Graham, Rubio, Bennet and Flake.  Under the leadership of Chairman Patrick Leahy and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, the committee slogged its way through over 212 amendments before voting 13-5 to approve the measure as amended.

Two important amendments to note for our industry and entrepreneurs:  First, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse introduced an amendment, accepted by the committee, that adds qualified startup accelerators as entities that can also sponsor entrepreneurs for an INVEST visa.  His amendment also clarifies that the level of investment an entrepreneur must raise in order to qualify for an INVEST visa can be met from a combination of qualified investors rather than having to be raised from only one investor.  Additional details on the INVEST visa can be found here.

Second, the amended bill eased some of the restrictions on H-1B visas, particularly around the issue of a company proving that it had attempted to hire American workers before being allowed to hire someone on an H-1B.  The tech community had expressed serious concerns that the provisions as originally written could have proved unworkable.

The bill still has a long way to go – supporters will have to stave off another round of attempts to change the bill when the full Senate considers it in early June.  And, the House of Representatives is still mulling its own version of reform.  Despite those obstacle, the strong Judiciary Committee vote has pushed the bill through one of the most difficult gates.  We’ll continue to add our voice supporting those efforts.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 14:41
 

16

May

2013

VentureScape Keynotes Inspire and Inform PDF Print E-mail

Emily Mendell

Written by Emily Mendell   
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As the California sun set last evening on the first-ever VentureScape here in San Francisco, I couldn't help but reflect on the themes of leadership, innovation, individual empowerment, human connection and trust that ran through our programming on Day 2. It was inspiring, thought provoking, and an opportunity to hear from some amazing leaders.

IBM Chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty kicked off our lineup of speakers with a prediction that we are on the verge of a golden era of technological transformation to be driven by how we use information to improve our decision-making, create value, and deliver that value to others. She described how this process will push forward in a series of three parallel waves: enterprise mobility, improved management of big data through dynamic, open, software-defined environments, and the rise of cognitive infrastructure, which learns and restructures itself in real time.

General Colin Powell (ret.) followed Rometty by stressing the importance of empowering the members of an organization by giving them a moral purpose to serve. Using insightful and often humorous anecdotes from his 51-year career, he described how leaders can do this by example and by forming personal connections with member of a team – which builds the trust that companies and organizations need to thrive. His closing remarks around immigration and what makes our country great brought many of us to tears.

Expanding on the theme of empowering employees to succeed, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo provided insights into his management style and how he trains his employees to adopt it. In doing so, he shared two of the day’s pithiest distictions: A manager’s job is to improve the team, not defend it, and a manager’s job is not to be omniscient, but rather to ensure that the right decisions get made – whether he makes them himself or not. Echoing Gen. Powell, Costolo described how communicating these expectations clearly builds crucial trust among employees.

23andMe CEO and Co-founder Ann Wojcicki also seized on the empowerment theme – this time on behalf of consumers. She explained how people can empower themselves in a health context by obtaining access to the information contained in their own DNA. Using information such as the presence of genetic markers for diseases and resistance to drugs, all of us can make more informed decisions about our lifestyles and our healthcare options. She also presented a revealing composite genetic profile of a venture capitalist – based on saliva swabs submitted by VCs. Perhaps the most astonishing finding was that 67 percent of those who submitted DNA were directly related. Talk about a close knit VC community.

Finally, social entrepreneur Craig Kielburger challenged the audience to share their energies and expertise in building and scaling enterprises that aim to change the socio-economic circumstances of those in need – on a global scale. The co-founder of Free the Children and Me to We, Kielburger described how empowering children to make a difference in the world by providing them with the tools to do so – and the belief that they can – can create a new generation of innovative, self-sustaining social enterprises and a culture of difference-making.

Of course, these themes dovetail with venture capital’s mission and purpose: funding innovation and empowering entrepreneurs. It was a privilege to have these impressive figures deepen our insights into these themes renew our commitments to them. And we look forward to assembling another exceptional lineup next year at VentureScape 2014.

 

16

May

2013

The Future of Clean Energy Investing @ VentureScape PDF Print E-mail

Emily Baker

Written by Emily Baker   
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To adapt a phrase from Mark Twain, “Rumors of the demise of clean energy investing have been greatly exaggerated.” This truth came through loud clear during a spirited conversation about the sector’s future on Tuesday at NVCA’s first annual VentureScape meeting. Moderated by Andew Shapiro of Broadscale Group, the discussion was originally structured as a duo of panel discussions featuring Mitch Lowe, founder and managing partner of Greenstart, Pulakesh Mukherjee, principal at BASF, Peter Grubstein, managing director at NGEN Partners, and Rob Day, Partner at Black Coral Capital. However, from the outset it unfolded a free flowing discussion between the panelists and a vocal gallery of VCs.

While opinions diverged on the precise roles that venture investment will play in the sector’s future, predictions coalesced around some key trends. First, the fundamental promise and opportunities that clean energy and technology offers remains. It aims to address a challenge – resource scarcity – that we as a society must solve. It’s a global endeavor with a market to match. And it extends into just about every human activity. Second, this breadth of impact will drive the creation of innovative new approaches and business models among entrepreneurs and startups. Third, these innovations will change the nature of how VCs categorize, evaluate and participate in clean energy and technology investments will likely change. At the very least, we’ll see a split between energy and industrial innovation and IT and social media innovations geared toward managing and interpreting data streams to improve efficiency, as well as those aimed at revolutionizing the end-user experience and driving adoption. Fourth, the value of tightly integrated partnerships between VCs, corporate VCs and other investors will increase. Rather than having sequential conversations with investors who join in each round, potential investors across all stages will likely need to join the discussion from the beginning.

Of course, much will depend on whether LPs embrace these new clean energy and technology models and capitalization structures. But with a trillion-dollar opportunity to participate in the evolution of so much of our economy still on the table, it’s hard to believe LPs will stay on the sidelines for long

 

16

May

2013

Josh Green of MDV Assumes Chairmanship of NVCA PDF Print E-mail

Mark Heesen

Written by Mark Heesen   
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In sync with the spring season’s rites of passage and renewal, each May NVCA elects a new chairman and appoints new directors to our board. This year we are proud to welcome Josh Green of Mohr Davidow Ventures as our new NVCA chair. In our conversations, he has expressed his excitement for leading NVCA at a time when we can have a significant impact on a truly dynamic startup ecosystem. I am certain that Josh will renew commitment to the long-term global competiveness of our country and to working with venture firms and entrepreneurs to change the world. His expertise and vision will serve NVCA very well as we enter this year of change.

Of course, as we welcome Josh, we must say thank you to Ray Rothrock for his service and accomplishments as chair for the 2012-2013 term. Ray’s energy, acumen, and drive have been a tremendous asset to the venture capital industry. His nuanced leadership has been instrumental in skillfully navigating the legislative and regulatory landscape, while simultaneously looking out on the horizon to the future of the industry and the association.

We also welcome six new members to our board: Scott Kupor, Andreessen Horowitz; Sue Siegel, GE healthymagination; John Backus, New Atlantic Ventures; Art Pappas, Pappas Ventures; Mark Leschly, Rho Capital Partners; and Jim Healy, Sofinnova Ventures.  Each director will serve a four-year term.

Again, these additions mean that we must say goodbye to some board members whose terms are expiring. They include: Jason Mendelson, Foundry Group; Michael Greeley, Flybridge Capital Partners; Michael Elliot, Noro-Moseley Partners; Sherrill Neff, Quaker Partners; Jim Marver, Vantage Point Capital Partners; and Ray Rothrock, Venrock. I want to thank each of them for their outstanding service and wish them the best in all of their future endeavors.

 

16

May

2013

Thank You Kate Mitchell PDF Print E-mail

Mark Heesen

Written by Mark Heesen   
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One of my favorite things about bringing so many NVCA members together in one place for our annual meeting (which we’ve renamed VentureScape) each year is the opportunity to thank them in person for all of the support they give to our association year after year. Without their efforts, there would be little for us to celebrate.

Yet, even within this context of member activism and commitment, it seems each year that one member – through personal commitment of time, resources and dedication – manages to distinguish himself or herself from the others and creates an impact that benefits the entire venture community.

This year, that member was Kate Mitchell of Scale Venture Partners. Kate followed up her 2010-2011 term as NVCA Chair by forming a task force to address the challenges in the U.S. IPO market and then lobbying for its recommendations as part of the 2012 JOBS Act, which President Obama signed into law last April in the Rose Garden.

Kate’s tireless commitment to seeing the JOBS Act enacted into law was nothing short of remarkable.  She owned the process from the outset, collaborating with all interested stakeholders, developing reasonable and effective provisions, navigating the political dynamics, and demonstrating grace under enormous pressure.  One year after passage, the IPO process is no longer the daunting task that it once was – and, thanks to Kate, venture-backed companies have a smoother path to the public markets.

For these reasons and many more, we were proud to present Kate with NVCA’s Outstanding Service Award yesterday. Lauded by our outgoing chairman Ray Rothrock and colleagues Scott Dorsey (CEO of ExactTarget) and Duncan Niederauer (CEO of NYSE Euronext), Kate accepted this honor in front of hundreds of her peers.  In earning this award, she not only joins an illustrious list of past honoree, but also resets the standard against which future recipients will be measured.

Congratulations again, Kate.

 

15

May

2013

Venture Capitalists and Social Entrepreneurs Have Similar Ambitions & Challenges PDF Print E-mail

Jeanne Metzger

Written by Jeanne Metzger   
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At first glance, it may seem as though the venture capital and nonprofit worlds have little in common – other than a desire to change the world. Look closer, however, and you discover that venture investors and the social entrepreneurs who are reshaping the nonprofit sector share many of the same ambitions and challenges.

This realization, and the desire on the part of VCs like NVCA Board Member Jason Green (Emergence Capital) to work with social entrepreneurs, provided the impetus for NVCA's first-ever Social Entrepreneurship Summit. During this week's VentureScape conference, Jason moderated an energetic three-hour discussion between 20 VCs and 20 leading social entrepreneurship organizations aimed at identifying ways in which the principles of venture investing, such as taking a hands on role in scaling organizations, building top management teams, and measuring success with specific metrics, can be applied to both non-profits and for-profits alike.

Social entrepreneurs focus on solving our society's biggest challenges through innovation -- not dissimilar to the entrepreneurs in which venture capitalists invest. How they measure success, however, is often different. Some by a combination of financial return and social impact. Some solely by social impact.

The participants of our inaugural social entrepreneurship summit were diverse and included venture capitalists, impact investors, venture philanthropists, social entrepreneurs and connectors (organizations that bring these stakeholders together). Diverse as the group was, there was great enthusiasm around harnessing the skills and expertise of the venture community to further the impact of social entrepreneurs. There was also agreement on: 1) innovation has more transformative power than simple philanthropy alone; 2) there is a need for a common language -venture philanthropy, social entrepreneurship and impact investing mean different things to different people; 3) agreeing on what metrics will be used to measure success needs to be agreed upon from the outset.

If venture capitalists and social entrepreneurs can come together around these goals, and harness even a fraction of the energy evident in our conversation yesterday, then transformative change for millions of the world's impoverished and underserved will soon follow – with benefits for all of us.

We look forward to continuing this conversation and including more NVCA Members.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 16:41
 
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