Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Boston VC Panel Discussion at the Vilna Shul

Tonight there was a panel discussion held at the historic Vilna Shul entitled “The Venture Capital Industry: Looking Back on 2007 and Looking Forward to 2008” with three leading venture capital investor from the Boston-area: Larry Bohn from General Catalyst Partners, Jonathan Seelig from Globespan Capital Partners and Alan Spoon from Polaris Venture Partners. Scott Kirsner, Innovation Economy columnist from the Boston Globe, was the moderator and did a great job, as usual.

This was a candid, insightful discussion. An excellent panel Paraphrasing, here’s what they said:

With respect to 2007:

  • Alan: There is a great value at this time in this market for startup investments; venture investing is well positioned as an asset class.
  • Larry: the enthusiasm is back and innovation is back at rational prices.
  • Jonathan: Ditto points made by Alan and Larry, plus enthusiasm for web and capital efficient investments.

With respect to 2008 and beyond:

  • Alan: The rate of change is indeed accelerating. He will invest in portability and mobility; customization and vertical markets; e-commerce; the notion of cloud computing; life sciences – nanotech, stem cell research, and green or ener-tech, plus Asia.
  • Jonathan: Energy, technology and Japanese investment interests. He asks what is the right capital structure for these investments, in particular, ener-tech companies? Also investment interests include advertizing measurement of the effectiveness of media spending, and companies addressing the battle over the utility bill.
  • Larry: Indicated that the market has become frothy. Companies have to hunker down this year. If Boston-area companies are doing a C round, they should consider going to CA for investors.

There was some whining about Boston vs. CA. There was also concern expressed across the panel about a recession this year and it’s impact on investments, in particular, enterprise or B2B plays.

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