Tag Archives: Pillsbury Winthrop

Dec. 3, 2013 SVForum PWC Electric Cars

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On December 3, 2013 in Palo Alto At Pillsbury Winthrop, SVForum and PWC held a breakfast discussion on the rise of electric vehicles. Alison Leopold Tilley of Pillsbury moderated panelists Mark Platshon of Birchmere Ventures, John Suh of Hyundai Ventures, and Eric Wesoff of Greentech Media. Some unmanned electric vehicles may fly while many ground vehicles will be self driving. While most will use lithium ion batteries, there are new materials that may be cheaper with more capacity.

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Copyright 2013 DJ Cline All rights reserved.


Nov. 6, 2012 SVForum PWC

On November 6, 2012, in Palo Alto at Pillsbury Winthrop, SVForum with PWC presented a Quarterly Venture Breakfast on”Gaming.” Allison Leopold Tilley of Pillsbury Winthrop moderated panelists Kathleen Borie of PwC, Patricia Nakache of Trinity Ventures and Eric Tilenius of Scale Venture Partners. They discussed the dramatic growth of gaming and social media in the mobile sector and the potential for investors.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jul. 24, 2012 SVForum PWC Mobile

On July 24, 2012, in Palo Alto at Pillsbury Winthrop, SVForum with PWC presented a Quarterly Venture Breakfast on Mobile. Stanley Pierson of Pillsbury Winthrop moderated panelists Steve Bengston of PwC, Bob Borchers of Opus Capital, Kim Morgan of Motorola Mobility and Venu Pemmaraju of Intel Capital. By definition the mobile market is in constant motion. Five years ago Europe’s infrastructure and Nokia led the way. Today, Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android dominate the discussions. Five years ago most Facebook users were on PCs, now most are mobile as trend accelerates.

There are still challenges. Batteries face physical restraints that are addressed with software managing power. There is a debate about how much personal information should be on the device versus in the cloud. Content providers have to deal with smaller screens to accommodate advertising. Company brand managers now understand that an app can be the ad to target customers. Of course, making a purchase may not be easy. The promise of Near Field Communication (NFC) has bogged down in dealing with banks, carriers, device manufactures and merchants. The solution may already exist. Apple started iTunes selling music and then expanded to movies, television, movies, books and magazines. Amazon started selling books, but now you can buy appliances through them. How far away are we from buying a cup of coffee through iTunes or Amazon? Monetizing mobility is a moving target.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Apr. 10, 2012 SVForum PWC

On Tuesday April 10, 2012 in Palo Alto at Pillsbury Winthrop, SVForum presented the SVForum Quarterly Venture Breakfast with Pillsbury Winthrop and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The topic was of course “The Cloud.” Stanley Pierson of Pillsbury Winthrop moderated panelists Osman Ahmed of Scale Venture Partners, Steven Bengston of PwC, Aaron Jacobson of NEA and Peter Lee of Bessemer Venture Partners.

After Bengston gave his quarterly report on the growing concentration of venture capital in Silicon Valley, the panel discussed the cloud going mainstream. SAP bought Success Factors, IBM bought DemandTec and Oracle bought Taleo. Amazon continues to expand its cloud services to startups that want to scale quickly. As an example, Facebook paid a billion dollars for Instagram, a photo app company of twelve people that reached 30 million users in about a year. While not all deals will be as lucrative as Instagram, opportunities in the cloud exist in the enterprise, consumer, mobile, security and health sectors.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Feb. 7, 2012 SVForum PWC

On Tuesday February 7, 2012 in Palo Alto at Pillsbury Winthrop, SVForum presented the SVForum Quarterly Venture Breakfast with Pillsbury Winthrop and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The topic was “2011 The Year In Review.” Allison Leopold Tilley of Pillsbury Winthrop moderated panelists Steve Bengston of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Casper de Clercq of Norwest Venture Partners, Steve Goldberg of Venrock and Ann Winblad of Hummer Winblad. They discussed the past year and prospects for the next.

Venture capital investments went up from $23 billion in 2010 to $26 billion in 2011. Fundraising went up from $10 billion in 2010 to $12 billion in 2011. This growth is seen as unsustainable when the top sectors of cleantech, biotech, and medical devices are vulnerable to scaling and regulatory issues. Despite the IPOs of LinkedIn and Pandora, the trend toward VC backed companies going public declined from 75 in 2010 to 50 in 2011. This does not help the unemployed if over ninety percent of job creation occurs after a company has an IPO. The Facebook IPO may generate more Silicon Valley angel investing, but such investment has not generated well paying jobs in the US.

According to the US Dept of Commerce and Wall Street Journal, multinationals over the past decade have cut 2.9 million jobs in the US and moved 2.4 overseas. One result is that over 80 percent of internet growth is overseas where more than 90 percent of the children under 15 live in emerging markets. One place the population may not be growing is in China, where the workforce will peak in 2015 and become the world’s largest economy by 2017 but be surpassed in population by India in 2020. Growth in Europe is unlikely considering their continuing instability as seen in Greece.

Despite more money going in, there are fewer exits. The current situation is unsustainable.


Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.


Oct. 18, 2011 SVForum PWC

On Tuesday October 18, 2011 in Palo Alto at Pillsbury Winthrop, SVForum presented the SVForum Quarterly Venture Breakfast with Pillsbury Winthrop and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The topic was “The Investment Landscape in Smart Grid.” Allison Leopold Tilley of Pillsbury Winthrop moderated panelists Matt Garratt of Battery Ventures, Nick Mignano of Crosslink Capital, Angela Sanford of PricewaterhouseCoopers and Paul Straub of Claremont Creek Ventures.

While money is going into the smart grid, there have been problems getting it out. Smart meters meet increasing opposition despite their goal to recognize and reduce peak demand for utilities. Shifting government policies make it difficult for startups to carry out a consistent long-term strategy. Domestic growth seems to be in a smart gridlock while global competitors roll out new projects in developing countries and offer government-subsidized products to consumers. It seems that to succeed in the smart grid, a startup must get a utility CEO to sign a big check for a long term deal.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jul. 26, 2011 SVForum PWC Biotech

On July 26, 2011 in Palo Alto, SVForum with Pillsbury Winthrop and PricewaterhouseCoopers held their Quarterly Venture Breakfast on Biotech. Tom Thomas of Pillsbury Winthrop moderated panelists Steve Bengston of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Casper de Clercq of Norwest Venture Partners, Jonathan MacQuitty of Abingworth Venture Capital and Eric Shiozaki of Apposite Capital.

Developing drugs can be a slower and uncertain process in America than launching in Europe. Despite that, venture capitalists are still plowing what looks like an unsustainable amount of early stage funding into biotech. Savvy investors look for later rounds after new drugs or devices pass FDA scrutiny, which has become a financial gauntlet for small startups. A growing number of clinical trials are taking place in emerging economies but less regulation means less reliable results. This outsourcing risks losing America’s ability to develop drugs domestically. It also is slowing and some cases stopping new products from reaching patients.

The exits are more likely a buyout from a big pharmaceutical company than an IPO. Many of the pharma giants are looking for something to replace their expiring patents next month. Investing in new life saving drugs is as risky as taking them.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Apr. 12, 2011 SDF PWC

On April 12, 2011 in Palo Alto SDForum held the Quarterly Venture Breakfast with Pillsbury Winthrop and PricewaterhouseCoopers on “The Mobile Revolution.” Stan Pierson of Pillsbury Winthrop moderated panelists John Balen of Canaan Partners,  of PricewaterhouseCoopers,  Vispi Daver of Sierra Ventures, and Katie Rice of EPIC Ventures. The panel discussed the trends and and how the market  will look over the next year.

The economy and investment in North America continues to improve. Supply disruptions in Japan and the Middle East may be counterbalanced by other countries. The investment growth is still in Silicon Valley and still heavily in the mobile space, which can be seen in the telecommunication, network and software sectors.

The shift from hardwired PCs to mobile devices is as big as the original shift to PCs. The introduction of the Apple iPhone and the Google Android put the US at the front of the mobile innovation for using the Internet. These devices break the hold of traditional telecommunications over access to the wireless market. Mobile devices like the iPad don’t need a monthly contract. They just use WiFi to access thousands of apps.

While there is money developing and selling those apps, as in any gold rush, more money can be made selling the tools. Companies that make it easier to develop apps across platforms, sell to global markets, or collect financial transactions. Another opportunity is helping corporate IT systems adapt to the consumerization of IT networks particularly with security. Beyond smart phones, in emerging economies there is still growth in phones that use SMS or texting.

It was a crowded event with a lot of questions. The mobile revolution is more disruptive than anyone realizes.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Mar. 9, 2011 SDF Nokia Mobile Photography

On March 9, 2011 in Palo Alto at Pillsbury Winthrop, the SDForum Emerging Technology SIG hosted Nokia research scientists Timo Ahonen and Marius Tico’s presentation “Photography 2.0 – Mobile computational photography for consumers.” They demonstrated their work with Stanford overcoming the current limitations of mobile device cameras. The breakthroughs were the new open source camera control API called Frankencamera, high dynamic range (HDR) and panoramic photography.

The limitations of traditional photography like optics, lighting, framing, and resolution are effectively dealt with on a standalone digital camera. Add a bigger lens, increase memory or get a faster processor chip. You can fix the image when you get back to your computer. Squeezing those solutions into a mobile device with other applications forces developers to compensate with new imaging software strategies. People want to take, process and distribute their images immediately.

One solution is high dynamic range (HDR), to take more than one picture at the same time. The photographer clicks the button and at least two different images are taken. One image gathers the bright data parts, another the dark. These sets of data are analyzed for noise and motion. The images are overlapped and synchronized to allow for shaky hands and blurring. The software then finds a happy medium and presents a final picture.

I have been skeptical of mobile cameras like the ones in the Apple iPad2. A mobile device manufacturer invariably brags that they have a camera and then show me an image worthy of a 1950’s Interpol pinhole camera. Nokia’s team may have a goal of matching standalone, dedicated cameras but what I saw seemed quite acceptable for web use.

What are the larger implications? The best camera is the one you have in your hand. In the future, it will likely be your phone. People can now quickly take and send accurate images and send them around the world. Mobile photography is now driving a political revolution as well as a technological one. The big picture may consist of a lot of smaller ones.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Dec. 8, 2010 SDF Fred Davis Holiday Gadgets

On December 8, 2010 in Palo Alto at Pillsbury Winthrop, the SDForum Emerging Tech SIG presented “Gadget Night with Fred Davis.” Davis is a media pioneer with roots in MacUser, CNET, Wired and currently with Forward Innovations. He and Lisa Padilla of Grabbit demonstrated the latest tech gadgets and talked about the significant trends in consumer and business technology.

Apple dominates gadgets this year. While the number of apps on the iPhone and iPad are increasing, people should look at the iTouch which has many of the same apps, features and games of an iPhone without the AT&T two year contract.

Speaking of contracts, the iPad can be networked using a contract with Verizon and the MiFi Mobile Hotspot. You can connect it to your camera using the iPad Camera Connection Kit with its own SD card reader. It can also be used as kind of a USB port, which the current iPad does not have. Davis thinks there are more features on iPhones that will migrate to the iPad like front and rear cameras. The most interesting news was the possibility of textbooks next year. Imagine having the latest and best textbooks for your child regardless of what state or school district you live in.

The iPod Nano and Shuffle prices of $149 and $49 are falling into the stocking stuffer category.

It was not all about Apple, but even Amazon’s Kindle has an app on the iPad. Amazon is looking for platforms to sell content and the Kindle appears to be just one way to do that. This brings up the issue of DRM and whether you own content or only rent it. Amazon inadvertently deleted George Orwells “1984” because it discovered it did not have the proper rights to publish it. Google has found itself in similar situations. There is nothing more disturbing than having a book disappear from your library. I wondered if an illegally downloaded copy of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” would cause an e-reader to ironically burst into flames.

Speaking of a nightmarish future with large screen televisions, Davis does not think much of the current expensive 3D televisions. Anything that requires glasses can give you a headache. There are other interesting things you can do with your existing TV. He likes the Sonos S5 multi-room wireless music system. Microsoft’s  Xbox 360 4GB with Kinect allows users to interact with the video games by tracking your every move in front of the screen. To get Americans off the couch, the Gruve personal activity monitor tracks your activity and calories as you move around. For the car, there is the Pioneer AVIC-X920BT which of course can be paired with your iPhone.

For cameras Davis likes the following: Canon EOS 7D, the Nikon D7000, Red Mysterium X camera, and the Panasonic HDC-SDT750.

That’s it. Enjoy your holiday shopping.

Copyright 2010 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 19, 2010 SDF PWC

On Tuesday, October 19, 2010 in Palo Alto, SDForum with Pillsbury Winthrop and PricewaterhouseCoopers held a Quarterly Venture Breakfast on “Clean Technology.” Allison Leopold-Tilley of Pillsbury Winthrop moderated panelists Steve Bengston of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Sven Strohband of Mohr Davidow Ventures, Don Wood of Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Rick Yang of NEA.

Steve Bengston of PricewaterhouseCoopers delivered Wayne Hedden’s report “Clean Technology Investment Trends October 2010” that included data from the MoneyTree Report and Thomson Reuters. After taking a dive with the economic downturn at the end of 2008, cleantech investments rose again only to decrease in the third quarter of 2010. The largest deal was $106 million for Trilliant who provide wireless network solutions for grid management. The cleantech sector is maturing and starting to behave like the sectors for biotech, medical and software.

One of the unique parts of cleantech are the large capital requirements for developing infrastructure to the last mile, best seen in smart grid or power generation startups. The other is the lack of Moore’s Law in the efficiency of photovoltaics. While the efficiency of solar panels is increasing, it is not increasing exponentially like semiconductors. What can increase dramatically is energy efficiency. If twenty five percent of US electricity is consumed for lighting, the potential for savings with sensors and LEDs could drive down it down to five percent of consumption.

The panel saw the next big growth in the cleantech sector as water. Just as smart grids can increase efficiency in electricity, smart pipes can reduce waste. Better measurement and management will be necessary as more of the world population moves into cities and consumption increases. Look for opportunities in water desalinization that requires less or even no electricity like forward osmosis developed by Oasis.

It is important to remember that like the old energy sector, the cleantech sector is very much a product of government policy and subsidy. China, Germany and other countries are making progress because they have a national consensus despite political changes in government. Recognizing and dealing with the inevitable changes we face will reward investors and the countries that move toward cleantech.

Copyright 2010 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 13, 2010 SDF IQ Engines

On October 13, 2010 in Palo Alto at Pillsbury Winthrop, the SDForum Emerging Technology SIG hosted Gerry Pesavento, CEO and Co-Founder of IQ Engines and Pierre Garrigues, Director of Research and Development. They talked about “Trends in Visual Intelligence.”

They explained how their image recognition engine takes advantage of human crowd sourcing from the millions of mobile devices taking billions of pictures everyday around the world. If someone takes a picture and they do not tag it with identifying data about the content, the camera merely assigns the images a number, which does not help much.

Pesavento said “The mobile camera is evolving to an ‘intelligent visual sensor’ to power mobile visual search, vision for the blind, photo labeling and augmented reality.” IQ Engines is sorting through images from mobile devices is a user driven strategy of working from images that people are already interested in rather large libraries of stock images. Putting human recognition in a real-time loop to assist machine learning dramatically speeds up the accuracy of recognizing images. The better a person identifies the image, the higher their ranking. The key is their scalable any-image recognition engine. All this easier with the growth of the cloud, new database and analytics tools.

The most interesting development to me will be the new high definition three-dimensional digital cameras. Soon many mobile devices will have two cameras to give the kind images reminiscent of stereo-optic images from the 1800s or Viewmaster images from the 1900s. Until then I will have to take two pictures of the same stationary object a few inches apart and process them together later. (Now you know why I do that funny move when I take your picture. Always thinking ahead.)

Copyright 2010 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Aug. 11, 2010 SDF Silver Tech For Aging

On August 11, 2010 in Palo Alto at Pillsbury Winthrop, the SDForum Emerging Tech SIG presented Susan Ayers Walker of SmartSilvers presentation “Emerging Silver Technologies for Aging and Caring.” She moderated panelists Richard Adler of People & Technology, Vijay Nadkarni of Wellcore and Peter Radsliff of Presto Services. Text from DJCline.com

There are 78 million baby boomers and the number of adults older than 65 will double by 2030. To live longer active lives, they will use “silver” technology to maintain fitness, manage their health information and connect with caregivers. Opportunities will be in healthcare, monitoring equipment and services.

Copyright 2010 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Apr. 20, 2010 SDF PWC

On April 20, 2010 at Pillsbury Winthrop in Palo Alto, SDForum held the Quarterly Venture Breakfast Series in collaboration with PWC. Allison Leopold-Tilley of Pillsbury Winthrop moderated panelists Stephane Berthier of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Asheem Chandna of Greylock, Peter Sonsini of NEA and Andy Vitus of Scale Ventures. They discussed the growth of cloud players from Amazon, Google and Microsoft down to startups looking for their first round of funding.

While aware of trends and fads, venture capitalists look for the black swan. They want the entrepreneur with the track record and passion who understands how their product fits in an existing or entirely new market. While Amazon dominates the cloud infrastructure space with its ability to supply servers, there are many opportunities in applications, security and databases. MySql does not seem to be able to scale well in the cloud and that is an opportunity for some entrepreneur.

Copyright 2010 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 20, 2009 SDF PWC

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On October 20, 2009 at Pillsbury Winthrop in Palo Alto, SDForum held the Quarterly Venture Breakfast Series in collaboration with PWC. Sylvia Burks of Pillsbury Winthrop moderated panelists Savinay Berry of Granite Ventures, Jim Lussier of Norwest Venture Partners, Ho Nam of Altos Ventures, Prashant Shah of Hummer Winblad and Danny Wallace of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Danny Wallace of PricewaterhouseCoopers kicked off the meeting with an analysis of where investments went over the past year in biotechnology, industrial energy, software, medical devices and media/entertainment. Basically the level of investment is where it was back in 1996. The consensus is that the economy has hit bottom and may be recovering slowly.

Enterprise software burst with dotcom bubble mainly because so few packages were actually implemented. The need for enterprise services is still there and may be met with software as a service (SAAS), cloud computing or just plain web services. Larry Ellison of Oracle appeared in video clip disparaging anything called “cloud”. Even the panelists were skeptical. Your elevator pitch must explain what it does for an enterprise not just that it takes place in the cloud. Large companies will still try to run in-house clouds but smaller companies can quickly benefit from pushing their IT functions into the cloud. IT managers will manage platforms and data rather than hardware. Over time the costs and benefits will be obvious and most companies will outsource their IT the way they outsource their electricity. Develop a product or service that is sticky for users and does not require begging for scarce resoures from an inside IT department. Offering reliable security is solid selling point.

As Apple’s continued success shows, a good idea or service can triumph in bad times. A good idea can grow a company or create a new industry. They did not wait for a recovery. They started their own.

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Copyright 2009 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Aug. 24, 2009 SDF Nokia Augmented

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On August 24, 2009 in Palo Alto at Pillsbury Winthrop, SDForum’s Augmented SIG hosted Nokia’s research and developers to talk about augmentation technology. Ramakrishna Vendantham demonstrated how a Nokia N95 can recognize a music CD cover. Kari Pulli and Radek Grzeszczuk talked about software that will not only recognize products with bar codes and labels but buildings and faces. They showed how an experimental visor can track eye movement and then zoom in on whatever you focus on. Combined with GPS and publicly available information it helps people navigate around cities. This would great for the visually impaired or people who get lost easily. Text from DJ Cline.com

All of this depends on a cell phone’s camera finding enough data points to compare with an existing database of images. The problem is that the database is usually not in the phone but must be accessed over a network. They combine several recognition strategies and database trees to create a “forest” that finds results fast over an existing network. The result is a technology that literally see the forest for the trees.

Here is link to the slides.T20090824SDFAugmentext from DJ Cline.com

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Copyright 2009 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

July 21, 2009 SDF PWC

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On July 21, 2009 at Pillsbury Winthrop in Palo Alto, SDForum held the Quarterly Venture Breakfast Series in collaboration with PWC. Allison Leopold Tilley of Pillsbury Winthrop moderated panelists Steve Bengston of Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Matt Garratt of Battery Ventures, Mamoon Hamid of USVP, Dan Rubin of Alloy Ventures, Robert Walker of Sierra Ventures and Don Wood of Draper Fisher Jurvetson. They discussed trends in venture investments and how the economic landscape will change over the coming years.

The current investment picture is still flat or falling. Green or clean tech dropped from second to fourth place compared to other investment sectors. The problem is that clean tech is very much a physical infrastructure play, requiring more than what many venture capitalists are willing to invest. Startups are applying for government stimulus funds and some like electric vehicle maker Tesla are getting it, but it is a longer and more complicated process than VCs. While stimulus spending is growing, it is too early to see the impact in clean tech.

Private and government goals sometime are at odds for with each other. Public funds mean public interest. Governments like to incubate companies that create jobs. VCs like companies that create the value and not headcount.

Inside clean tech, the technologies to watch are smart grid and direct current inside the home. Almost every aspect of the smart grid needs to be developed. Historically utilities existed to provide power and encourage consumption. Entrepreneurs should not wait for utilities to change their spots but to push forward on opportunities that do not depend on them.Using an electric car as fuel cell for your home is one idea.

If few appliances require alternating current (AC) inside the home then perhaps a direct current (DC) grid to run them. It might use solid state or LED lighting, dramatically lowering costs. Your clothes dryer might need AC but your laptop computer probably does not.

All the VCs encouraged entrepreneurs to work on their pitches and why their ideas are unique and profitable. They want companies that will dominate their particular sector rather than fight for a percentage of a commodity industry. Be the biggest frog in your pond not the smallest shark  in the ocean.


Copyright 2009 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Nov. 13, 2008 SDF Fundable Startup Roadmap 1

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On November 13, 2008 at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman in Palo Alto, SDForum presented “Crafting a Fundable Roadmap for Your Startup”. Featured speakers included Laurie Lumenti-Garty, and Shai Goldman of Silicon Valley Bank; Anthony Nassar of Venture Momentum, Allison Leopold Tilley of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP and Steve Tennant of Tennant Consulting. Text from DJCline.com

In a downturn this bad you have to figure out your own bail out plan. When going gets tough, the tough start companies. One of the markers of an economic recovery is the creation of new businesses. This all day workshop showed ways to increase your chance of success. Overall, do your homework before you leave home. Text from DJCline.com

Anthony Nassar started off with serious number crunching. He showed how small changes in your business model make big differences in how fast you make a profit over five years. Text from DJCline.com

Steve Tennant stressed the importance of assessing and sizing your market opportunity. Lack of paying customers is the number one reason companies fail. What unique thing can you offer that people will want to pay for? Are they willing to pay enough for you to make a profit? Tennant outlined specific steps that you do not want to skip unless you want to go out of business. Text from DJCline.com

Laurie Lumenti-Garty, and Shai Goldman showed how to put together a winning elevator pitch that will get investors hooked. They heard pitches from attendees and gave them tips to tune their pitch. The over a dozen people got to pitch the investor panel. The winner was Nambii.com Text from DJCline.com

Allison Leopold Tilley talked about crafting a due diligence-ready legal framework. You may be as leery of legal issues as of doing your taxes but you have to cover your bases. If you don’t own your idea, you won’t own your business. Text from DJCline.com

The entrepreneur panelists were Amarjit Gill of P.A. Semi, Inc., Karen Northup of Corefino, and Rick Sutton of Plus 3 Network. They shared their experiences, challenges and insights into building and securing funding for their ventures and engaged in an interactive exchange. Text from DJCline.com

Early stage investors panelists were Josh Goldman of Norwest Venture Partners, Vimal Patel, of Sierra Ventures, Steve Reale of Levensohn Venture Partners, and Jeff Yu of Angel’s Forum. They discussed VC investing trends in the current economic climate, fundability criteria, and alternatives for entrepreneurs unable to attract institutional funding. Text from DJCline.com

Rashmi Nunn attended this event.


Copyright 2008 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Oct. 7, 2008 SDF PWC

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On October 7, 2008 at Pillsbury Winthrop in Palo Alto, SDForum held the Quarterly Venture Breakfast Series in collaboration with PWC. They discussed trends in venture investments and how the economic landscape will change over the coming years. Text from DJCline.com.

Silicon Valley’s position as an investing center will change over the next decade. Venture capital investment in China will equal America’s in about 7 years. Beyond money, talent will be in short supply. China and India are working to meet the demand for technology professionals, creating their own investment and innovation infrastructure. Today over half the clean tech deals are outside the US. Is this the shape of things to come? Text from DJCline.com.

Sylvia Burks of Pillsbury Winthrop moderated panelists Bronwyn Dylla Bailey of SVB Capital, Tim Chang of Norwest Venture Partners, Brendon Kim of Altos Venture Partners and Robert Walker of Sierra Venture Partners. Text from DJCline.com.

Bronwyn Dylla Bailey of SVB Capital delivered a detailed report on venture capital trends around the world. Asia leads the way in investment by limited partners because of the better rates of return than in even the US. Equity investment in China in the second quarter of 2008 was at a record high of $1.3 billion. India was a lower 238 million dollars. For 2007 private equity investment in Eastern Europe excluding Russia was $3.01 billion, mostly in buyout deals. Latin America was 4.7 billion. These are mostly capital deals not early stage. They are fueled by local high growth rates, expanding middle classes, transitioning family business into professional management and fragmenting markets. Text from DJCline.com.

There are no guarantees this growth will continue in the current crisis environment. Developed markets like North America Europe and Israel have already slowed or declined. Stock markets around the world have been declining since the beginning of 2008. One of the signs of a downturn is the small number of IPOs. In the first half of 2008 there only seven VC backed IPOs in the US, four in Europe, three in India and fifteen in China. Future IPOs will have to wait for exits. Text from DJCline.com.

Bronwyn Dylla Bailey talked about establishing a network of connections in India before investing. The percentage of investments with offshore companies increases every year. Getting in early is important. As local markets develop, so does local investor competition. Partnering with firms that have offices in Silicon Valley and the local market helps. Products or services targeting the growing middle classes around the world show promise. Text from DJCline.com.

Tim Chang of Norwest Venture Partners thinks knowing the people and the local markets you are investing in is crucial. There are many shifty characters and he wants to work with people that are vouched for by people he already knows and trusts. Where a company is based is becoming almost an exercise in tax law. Developers may be in one country and manufacturers in another and the market may be in a third. There are several strategies to look for promising companies like acquiring a team, sending a partner or hiring a local inexperienced venture capitalist. He likes to bring potential partners to the US and work with them for a year before sending them back. Many greedy investors in developing markets have never seen a major downturn and will likely drop out in this current downturn. Cultural and legal complications can increase the cost of deal. In China there can be three sets of books, one for the government, one for the investors and one for the business itself. A local bank can clear up and verify the deal. China will throw bodies at problem rather than tech. He loves the chain-smoking entrepreneur who wears sneakers and a suit because they have the experience overlooked by other Silicon Valley investors. Beware of China deals that are brought to you after being passed over by local investors. He has seen the rise of oil money investors from the Middle East and Russia. He thinks many investors and companies will fail during the downturn. The recovery may see fewer US companies. We are at risk of becoming a banana republic. Despite that he sees great opportunities for companies that carefully manage their money and can get to the other side. Text from DJCline.com.

Brendon Kim of Altos Venture Partners uses human networks but is also looking for new ideas anywhere, even online. An increasing percentage of investments are outside the US but targeted toward the US market. There will be more deals that have a mix of domestic and overseas deals. Companies want to go public in the US if they can. As for doing business in another country, you have to put someone on the ground to make decisions quickly. They want to be cash positive so they don’t lose their house. There is a desire by many Asian immigrants to be your own boss that drives people to become entrepreneurs. They take pride in their companies and their countries. Many locals resent investors’ interest in seeing their books but must learn that transparency is part of the deal. He likes the commitment of Korean entrepreneurs who put their money and reputation on the line. Still, if your company has a global view and skills you can compete no matter where you are. Labor costs around the world from the Ukraine to Vietnam are increasing. Text from DJCline.com.

Robert Walker of Sierra Venture Partners says the best deals still come from local networks of people you know. It is easier to pick a management team carry out due diligence and can find out whether a company is truly profitable. He feels China is overvalued. His company has twelve employees in four countries, making them small but still international. Your company goes public wherever it makes the most sense. He has seen the rise of sovereign wealth funds from the Middle East interested in clean tech. You cannot invest in Silicon Valley without understanding what is going on around the world. Partnering with locals can give you better insight to their markets. He suspects that products and services that work in one country might be profitable adapted to local markets like online travel services. He thinks Silicon Valley will be fine because unlike Europe, we want to build companies that help not just our own country but the entire world. Our entrepreneurs want to leverage resources around the world to reach global markets as a matter of course. Text from DJCline.com.

While the rest of the business world is planning for the downturn, venture capitalists are planning for the recovery. Text from DJCline.com.


Copyright 2008 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Aug. 25, 2008 SDF Virtual Entropia

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On August 25, 2008 at Pillsbury Winthrop in Palo Alto, SDForum’s Virtual Worlds SIG hosted John Bates of Entropia Universe to present: Virtual Economies with Real Results: Entropia Universe. Mr. Bates is the most engaging and fascinating speaker I have seen wearing a zoot suit.

People call Economics the dismal science. They have not seen Entropia, which actually has economists on staff. I do not think Adam Smith or John Maynard Keynes ever imagined their ideas would be used to blow stuff up. Entropia has its own virtual currency and some sort of bank-like agreement in Sweden. I do not know if they are FDIC insured and Charles Gibson of Ominivergent quite rightly wondered what would happen if somebody wanted their real money back. There are always risks on the frontier.Text from DJCline.com.

Entropia created a planet and even a moon to sell virtual real estate. It is a dung based economy. People collect the dung and sell it to landowners who use it to raise monsters. Hunters pay the landowners to kill the monsters. Other people make money selling weapons to hunters. Everything in the virtual world is designed to wear out so people must buy new things. I assume this is the entropy part of Entropia. Oh, there are killer robots too. There are rejuvenation centers for when you get killed by robots or monsters. With all the guns and dung, I am surprised they haven not invented virtual pickup trucks and country music. Text from DJCline.com.

All kidding aside, since 2003, over 800,000 users paid some $400 milion dollars for digital goods and services online. They hold the world record for the most expensive digital good: a weapon. People pay real money and get in-world currency to buy and sell things that do not exist. I still cannott get over this. Of course, in a materialistic world burying itself in real garbage, the idea that an economy can function on virtual goods deserves attention. Just hit delete and your digital trash is really gone.Text from DJCline.com.

This has global implications for economies that want to grow but not strip the world of all its resources. Entropia has a deal with Beijing Municipal People’s Government as the platform of development for the Chinese Cyber Recreation Development Corporation (CRD). The project will create a cash-based virtual economy for China that encompasses business-to-business transactions and other sophisticated economic models. They own it, they control it, and it remains to be seen what kind of free expression will take place in it.Text from DJCline.com.

Which brings up the sad point that some people go to virtual worlds to do things and achieve status they cannot do in real life. Will virtual worlds keep people from building a better real one?Text from DJCline.com.

It might and that is why the economics angle is more interesting to me than shooting monsters. Could we create virtual economic worlds representing real world markets? They would have all the current regulations, property and capital but exist online. Economic activity and market forces could be predicted with more accurate models. Would it help understand commodities or real estate and reduce the real world suffering that market disruptions create? Entropia may have more value hunting for answers than monsters.Text from DJCline.com.

Here are some pictures from the event.Text from DJCline.com.


Copyright 2008 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Apr. 15, 2008 SDF VC PWC

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On Tuesday, January 15, 2008 in Palo Alto at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP and SDForum held the fifth quarterly Venture Breakfast Series in partnership with PWC. Text stolen from DJCline.com. Continue reading Apr. 15, 2008 SDF VC PWC

Jan. 28, 2008 SDF 3D Mobile Communities

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On January 28, 2008 at Pillsbury Winthrop in Palo Alto, SDForum’s Virtual Worlds SIG hosted Gemini Mobile Technologies presentation “3D Mobile Communities”.

While most Americans use PCs and cell phones, only 12 percent use mobile devices to surf the web. Asia has more people using mobile Internet third generation community interfaces. How can that usage be increased in the U.S.? Continue reading Jan. 28, 2008 SDF 3D Mobile Communities

Jan. 22, 2008 SDF VC PWC

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On Tuesday, January 22, 2008 in Palo Alto at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP and SDForum held the fourth quarterly Venture Breakfast Series in partnership with PWC. Alison Leopold Tilley of Pillsbury Winthrop introduced Steve Bengston of PWC and moderated a panel with Lou Bock of Scale Venture Partners, David Lowe of Skyline Ventures and Evgeny Zaytsev of Asset Management Company. Continue reading Jan. 22, 2008 SDF VC PWC