Thursday, September 24, 2009

I experience the delicacies of Hong Kong with my new friend Danny Lui, founder of Lenovo

Some thoughts on liquidity

Liquidity is a critical factor in our economy. It allows people flexibility to move in and out of investments without penalty. It keeps people from having to buy or sell in a panic. Liquidity builds confidence in the financial markets, allowing more financial risktaking, thus generating more innovation.

The IPO market is broken. Sarbanes Oxley and other regulations and accounting complexities have made it untenable for growth companies to go public. It is also uneconomic for investment bankers to take anything public with a market cap under $1 billion.

Xchange is changing the game. Xchange allows companies liquidity and allows them to stay private and unencumbered by burdensome regulations.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Jesse Draper's "The Valley Girl Show" featuring Elon Musk

Check out “The Valley Girl Show” a new take on the business interview! I magine if Reese Witherspoon’s character in Legally Blonde had taken Silicon Valley instead of Harvard Law-and been brunette-and you have the Valley Girl. Like a pink Ellen Degeneres, she illustrates the simplicity of business while including the fun tidbits that you don’t get to see on Charlie Rose. She launches with Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and Spacex among her other guests are former NFL Superstar/banker Ronnie Lott and Vinod Khosla! Tune in every Monday!

And if you are a REALLY good friend Jesse would love for you to....
1. Post the link on your facebook/twitter/myspace status...or any other social networking tool...
2. Post it on your blog!
3. Send it to everyone you know!
4. Wear pink!
5. Make everyone you know send it to everyone they know!
6. Follow Valleygirlshow on Twitter!
7. Play “The Valley Girl Show” at dinner parties.
8. Talk about “The Valley Girl Show” at your dinner parties.
9. Don’t forget to eat at your dinner parties!
10. Tune in every Monday!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Some thoughts on VC Regulation....

Venture capital helps everything this administration wants to accomplish. We encourage innovation, create jobs, help people from all walks of life pursue the American Dream, and improve competitiveness worldwide—we don’t even use debt. So, why is the administration trying to:

(1) Add to our regulatory burden by having us register with the SEC; and

(2) Increase taxes on carried interest?

Monday, August 10, 2009

New blog post: Now it's our time baby! an interview with Chris Arsenault

For the CVCA Private Capital PrivĂ© magazine – Summer 2009:

The theme of this year’s CVCA Annual Conference was “Embrace our Energy.” Well, keynote speaker Tim Draper did just that. He had more energy than any other venture capitalist in the room that evening – his eyes were sparkling and he saw opportunity everywhere. Read more....

Catch a Rising Star

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Interview on Roger Green's BizTech Review

DFJ and Cisco Global Business Plan Competition and insights about the state of entrepreneurship in the world today

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Milton Friedman Interview on Greed

Interview with one of my heroes, Milton Friedman.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Prototype: Location, Location, It Still Pays to Be Near (NY Times article by Leslie Berlin)

Great article regarding the dynamics of going global featuring the DFJ Global Network

Prototype: Location, Location: It Still Pays to Be Near By LESLIE BERLIN

Business may be global, but geographic proximity is still important in many industries.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Timothy Draper’s Rose-Colored Glasses

Check out Claire Cain Miller's article in the NY Times.

Report scores PE/VC environment in Latin America

Report scores PE/VC environment in Latin America: Chile still leads while Colombia makes gains
June 5, 2009
Vinod Sreeharsha

It’s so cool,” says Tim Draper, managing director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, of the LAVCA Scorecard. “It’s so important for governments to see how they rank relative to others as attractors of capital, entrepreneurship and business people. It’s useful to businesses that want to expand to Latin America.”
Asked if the report missed any major criteria, Draper said that, “I think they have hit the big ones. We need these reports all over the world.”

Monday, June 1, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Where to put the $1 million?

If you want the quick answer, I would invest it in Twitter. I’m sorry that we weren’t in it. I don’t know where it’s going and it would be a fun ride.
Tim Draper

Draper helps take companies "prublic"

Reuters Global Technology Summit: Read David Lawsky and Anupreeta Das' article on (

Top 5 Takeaways on Innovation and Entrepreneurship

  1. 1. It’s the regulations, stupid.
  2. 2. It’s the best time ever to start a business.
  3. 3. It’s all about starting a revolution.
  4. 4. It’s about “zeroed business models.”
  5. 5. It’s also about global collaboration.

For more, read Gregory T. Huang's article in Xconomy.

Architects of a New Dawn - Carlos Santana

Check out Carlos Santana's new project, "Architects of A New Dawn"

Friday, May 8, 2009

Special Draper Fisher Jurvetson partner event:

Second Annual Venture Summit East 2009: Where the big money meets the big ideas!

As New England’s premier annual event in the venture, technology and capital communities, Venture Summit East matches growth-company buyers and sellers and identifies the most promising innovation-driven, growth investment opportunities. Executives who attend Venture Summit East will enjoy unrivaled access to the most influential angels, venture capital, private equity and corporate investors, corporate buyers, technology partners, and the CEOs of some of the most exciting private companies in New England.

For program information, go to:

As a very special benefit to Draper Fisher Jurvetson clients and friends, receive 50% off tickets – a savings of $1,250. Click here to register now!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Meeting with Mayor Tu of Shanghai

Mayor Tu described to me how Shanghai plans to become the world’s financial center. I wanted to make sure he made it easy to repatriate capital gains.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Rocking at the Montgomery Conference w/ Kelley James

"When a Deal gets Done: A Few Minutes with Tim Draper", by Kevin Twohy

There’s a sense in which ‘venture capital’ in general has been uniquely a family business for you. Was there ever anything else you thought you might pursue as a career?

I always wanted to start a business, and when I was coming out of business school I had three big ideas. One was video on demand, one was digital music, and one was submarines. And since I had three, I realized that if I wanted to be an entrepreneur I would have to choose one, and then I would have a one-in-three chance of succeeding -- probably one of those three would have been successful in the twenty years after I graduated from business school. And one might have been successful now – digital music was the only one that really would have worked.

I actually run into a lot of submarine companies, but the reason I didn't want to go after that was, even though submarines maybe might be the ‘final frontier’ -- I didn't want to mess with the fish.

After getting into the venture business one of the first deals I went after was finding out who was the furthest along with digital music. We funded DigiDesign, and now ProTools is a big deal.

The video on demand we weren't ready for until about now, so I was way ahead of the technology and we really didn't have all the building blocks to get there.

But what I started to think about was: “Well I want to be an entrepreneur, and there are a lot of people like me who want to be entrepreneurs. How can I help them?' That's what went through my head. And that's when I thought “Well gee, my dad's a venture capitalist...I wonder if that's the job that's meant for me?” And it was remarkable that it just dawned on me that I could really help a lot of people that were starting businesses as opposed to just going after one of my ideas.

I get the sense that entrepreneurship is really your true passion. Working with so many entrepreneurs starting their own businesses, do you ever wish you could trade places with them and give it a shot yourself for once?

There were only two or three times when I thought I should be breaking from this and going after something else. One was when Yahoo! took the money from Sequoia instead of us, and I thought: “I could easily just start a competitor -- they're not very far along...” That was one. The second was that I thought these Skype guys were really rocking and I thought, “Well maybe I should just join their business...”

The rest of the time I have actually really enjoyed this because it has taken me to places I never thought I would be. I've been to seventy-some countries, it has made a mission of spreading entrepreneurship -- because I know how good it is for the world. Even if the businesses are only reasonably successful, or even if some of them fail, they move technology forward. They employ people. They get things happening. It creates huge values and huge economies. And every once in a while there is this breakout winner that employs tens of thousand people with very little investment dollars.

And it feels so good that it felt like it was a great opportunity for me to spread that around the world. I'm the Johnny Appleseed of Venture Capital.

When you talk about venture capitalism as being ‘good,’ it’s almost as though there’s an ethics involved for you. Is part of your mission to fund companies that are doing ‘good’ for the world?

I think actually, fundamentally, that people are good. Fundamentally, as customers, they buy good things -- so if you focus on good things, the customers will come to your door. There have been short-term successes in things that weren't so good for the world, but I think that you don't build a big, long-term, sustainable company in an area where you know you're doing more bad than good.

I actually think that all venture capital is socially good. Even if you make some investments in some things that aren't good -- those companies ultimately fail. The greatest companies in the world have all been doing good things for society -- the ones that lasted sixty or seventy years: GE, General Motors (though they may have seen their cycle [laughs]), WalMart, HP -- all these companies that have lasted a long, long time are doing really, really good things. So you focus on good things, and I think the market will solve the problems.

Even if we make mistakes, where someone is doing something wrong, the markets will decide not to support that company. So I tend not to make a lot of moral judgments. Because what I've learned is that as I go around the world, it tends to be more points of view than moral judgments. If you impose our morality on someone in another country who's grown up in entirely a different way -- I think you're missing something.

In any case, you seem to care intensely about facilitating change on a global scale. How do your ideas about where you want the world to go in the future influence your investments?

Wow. These are good questions. I have made several investments in areas where I want to lead the world to water, and occasionally, they drink it. I wish I could nail the model in virtual education to replace the bad teachers with great teachers via video, but that seems to be before its time.
I am a big believer in free markets, and it is proven in every country in the world every time that free markets outperform government intervention every time. So, I also try to make sure governments let the invisible hand do its work. I try to make investments that will succeed in a free market, and not one that relies on sucking up to a government entity.

What part of your job do you like the most?
Those one or two days in a month where I meet the truly great entrepreneur. The person who cannot help himself from what they're doing. They are on this mission, there's nothing that can stop them. I meet four a day, and I'd say I get two a month that just really rock my world.

What part of your job do you like the least?
[long pause] I don't like firing CEOs. I don't like that feeling where the entrepreneur sees a runway and they're running out of money, and we're not sure we're going to fund them. That's a difficult thing.

Viral Marketing' is one of those 'big idea' terms that seem to crop up once a decade or so. Where is the next 'big idea' going to come from? How will you know it when you see it?

You maybe. Big ideas come from entrepreneurs sometimes (and in the case of viral marketing, their venture capitalists), and from random occurrences often. One of my big riddles is “What do penicillin, America, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Velcro and electricity have in common?” They were all discovered by mistake. I expect to see a lot of mistakes happen in the future. In fact, I am counting on it. In the meantime, electric cars (Reva and Tesla), solar thermal generators (BrightSource), social networking for the enterprise (SocialText), Iphone GPS apps, new ways of communicating (Meebo), and nano solar panels (Konarka) will have to do.

When you need advice on something, who do you go to first?

When it's fundamental, I go to my father. When it's historical or when I need perspective, I go to one of my father's friends -- a lot of them are venture capitalists or entrepreneurs themselves. When it's something specific to an industry or specific to a problem I go to my network. I've got an extraordinary network -- I've met a lot of people over the years and they have been able to help me in a lot of different ways. And I tend to not hesitate to ask: if you just go ahead and ask then it actually builds the relationship that you might have been a little bit concerned about in the first place. You want to build those relationships. As I find different things that I need, or people around me need, I tap into that network quite a bit, and the more I use it the bigger and more powerful it gets.

You mentioned your father and it’s clear you share a lot of his passions and interests. What were you interested in as a kid?

I grew up in this area and it was a lot of empty acres, so I was able to play a lot. We had after-shool sports, and after that I would go play with my friends and go see what the world was like. We explored the world. We explored the natural world and the people world. And we tested. We spent a lot of our days testing things...

What did you test?

Well…[laughs] we would be running or on our bikes and we would do these things we called ‘shortcuts.’ “Let's take a shortcut through Mrs. So-and-so's backyard! Now, you'd call it trespassing, but back then it was just...a shortcut. And you'd plow over and then "Wow hey look at this!" and it would be a pomegranate tree and then, "What do you do with these?! Can you eat 'em? God I dunno, you try it..." That kind of thing would happen a lot.

So we'd go and try all sorts of things and get into all sorts of situations and sometimes get in trouble for them [laughs]...

When did you get into the most trouble?

I do remember that one of the motivations for my mom to encourage me to go look at prep school was that I came in late one night, and so I was grounded. So I just came in even later the next night. And it was like she couldn't do anything about it.

Growing up in a family like yours, it seems like it would almost be hard not to end up in politics. Do you have political aspirations as well, or is business the place for you?

That's a good question. We grew up with both, in our world. My grandfather on my father's side was both a successful business guy -- he was actually the first VC out here -- and he was Undersecretary of State, Undersecretary of Defense, Undersecretary of War for Eisenhower and Truman. And he led the Marshall Plan after the War. So he had a very broad perspective but he also ran a series of businesses. My dad was in the venture capital business for 22 years and then he went and supported George Bush when he ran against Reagan, and then he became a part of the Reagan administration at Ex-Im Bank. And then under Bush he was the head of the United Nations Development program. Then he came back and he ran a venture fund in India, and then one here, and he's recently done non-profit venture work. So that's a big backdrop.

On my Mom's side, my grandfather who was the guy at Merrill-Lynch who set up all the offices around the world, or at least around the country. So I feel like I've got the dual mission, but the Venture Capital part of the mission is a great way to see what could potentially happen in the future in the way people act, consume, and operate. I also keep good relations with the people in government -- I was actually interested in potentially running for Governor this time in California. But I saw that I could potentially make a bigger impact with the ideas I generated by working with the people who are already there. So that has been my focus. At least for the near-term.

People are much more wary of that intersection between business and politics than they might have been when your father or grandfather was your age – there are people who say that business and politics are, and must be, separate. Is that true?

I look at them separately. I think in terms of how to solve problems -- that's all I do. And entrepreneurs are the ones that really go after problems. Politicians often identify problems, but the entrepreneurs go after those problems and they solve them. Scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, businesspeople: they go after the problems in ways that allow them to generate a profit and spread their product around the world. I go after politics the same way: I do it like an entrepreneur does it. I say: "Okay. This is messed up." Education in America is messed up -- K-12 education at least. It is run by large, powerful self-interested institutions, and interest in the kids is cursory. The colleges are fabulous and that's because there is a free market for colleges, and people come from all over the world to go to them because they're really the best in the world. But the people who come here for K-12 can't get into our colleges because the education system is just really broken. A lot of it has to do with special interests from the teacher's union, and from the various boards of education, et cetera. So I look at that and I say: "That's a huge problem. What are some of the things I can do to help fix this?"

I am still working on a “fix.” We might have one coming soon. If it doesn’t happen politically, it will happen entrepreneurially.

So you think its sometimes easier to affect change from outside the political realm?

Sure. The other thing that I try to do is to lay out facts for large audiences -- I go and speak a lot. I'll lay out facts to large audiences and they internalize those, and those get passed along to politicians.

One was that shortly after the crash I started to ask "What's going on here?" We don't seem to be growing as fast in this country as we used to. We seem to be living a little high but not producing as much -- even though our productivity index is very high. So I went and I looked at government spending as a percentage of GDP, and what's happened to it since 1900. And since 1900 it's gone from 7% to 37% over that hundred-year period. So the government has just crept into our lives and taken over 37% of our economy -- and now it's going to be boatloads higher than that. It's almost a straight line, with a little bit of a shark-fin at WWII. And it looks, to me, like government is actually going to be taking over the whole economy over some period of time in which we become first socialists, and then slaves. I think people should identify that now, before it happens, so that they can start to curtail it.

We recently pumped a lot more money back in. Is that dangerous?

People don't read that right. They're not 'pumping money back in,' they're taking money from you guys -- younger people [laughs]. They're borrowing money -- and hopefully people will keep loaning it -- and they're throwing it at the things that they think are the right things to throw it at.

Now, I like the idea of 'vision' -- but I don't think that the money should go into the government's hands before it goes back out. It's the weirdest thing, but when the government comes down on business because something went wrong in business, they're doing it exactly the wrong way. There should be less regulation when things are bad, and there should be more regulation -- well, I hate to ever argue that there should be more regulation -- but there should definitely be less when things are bad. You want businesses to thrive during a tough time, you want them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. But now, if the government gets all the money -- which is what's going on -- then the businesses, instead of fixing their business, they have to go back to the government and suck up for some of the money.

It creates a culture of need instead of a culture of opportunity. And if you have a culture of need, you've got a big problem. You have India. India before they loosened up. If people are thinking 'need,' the economy falters. If people are thinking 'opportunity,' the economy booms. In China they're thinking 'opportunity' now, even in a down world-economy they’re thinking "where's the opportunity?" And what's interesting is, as soon as we have a culture of need instead of a culture of opportunity, all of a sudden you also have a culture of fear. As soon as people start to think in terms of opportunity instead of need, things start to turn around.

So you think we could have a major economic shift like we’re seeing now without any major change in the fundamental economics? Just changes in sociology or group psychology?

Yeah. A lot of this is group psychology -- most of it is. There is something that has been really bugging me. I can understand the idea that the government might step in and say, "Alright, we've gotta do something for these banks so that people are happy with their banks." But when the government steps in and says "We're going to support the car companies," that doesn't make any sense. We have a bankruptcy law. We have a net for people who lose their jobs. We have welfare, unemployment, we have all of those things. So why are we keeping an industry that is never going to recover, alive? Maybe if it were a stop-gap situation, but this is not a stop-gap situation. There is not enough demand for those cars. They need to go through bankruptcy, reinvent themselves, and come out with something headed the other way. And bankruptcy is a good program -- we can all go out there and take risks because we have a bankruptcy law. You allow these companies to go into bankruptcy and then they are forced to make the really hard decisions -- and once they've made those decisions, they're done. People can go about their lives and be more productive members of society -- instead of being a drag on the economy, they can be productive for the economy.

Now, there will be tragic stories. And the families of those people are going to suffer and that part is very sad. But overall, we're all better off if they actually let the bad companies fail and let new companies spring up in their place.

You make it seem like it’s all about perception – in economic shifts like this, are the numbers real, or is it all about how people think?

It's both. If you have a bad quarter, you have a bad quarter and that's it. You build back up for the next quarter. But if you have a bad quarter and the press thinks that's a really bad thing, they create a domino effect where people are thinking they should keep their money in their mattress. Where people start to think ‘we better not take that trip,’ ‘we better not buy that car’ -- if they go through the 'better nots,' that pulls money out of the economy. Then the company that had a bad quarter, where they may have rebounded, has an even worse quarter the next quarter because more of these people have pulled back and they're not buying. And then the stock market goes down even further because people don't believe this company will do very well the next quarter, and in some cases the company goes out of business after a few quarters. Then the press makes an even bigger deal out of it, and people have to pull back even more, and that's what's going on now. It's a constant cycle. When they did the New Deal, and they said "You have nothing to fear but fear itself," at that point, that was the case. And we are getting to that point now.

But let me tell you something else. It's about "the deal." I was trying to explain this to my daughter Eleanor, and I told her "If you make a deal with somebody, you're both better off." So you can break it all down. Break the entire economy down into deals: number of deals, frequency of deals, better deals, et cetera. But the important thing is you're both better off: if I make a deal with you to buy your camera, you make a decision that it's a good sale for you and I make the decision that it's a good buy for me because I need that camera. We're both better off. If we make a deal on a business -- say I invest in your company, we're both better off: I own some stock in what I thought was a good opportunity, and you sold some and got some cash because you felt that that was the best opportunity for you. And if you take that to the extreme -- Microsoft, Apple -- these companies have each made a lot of deals. [points to my laptop on the desk] That computer was a deal you made with Steve Jobs and Ron Johnson, and all of the Apple employees. And they all benefited from you buying that computer. And you benefited from buying that computer, and the Apple Store benefited, and all the suppliers to Apple benefited. Everybody benefits when a deal gets done. More deals, more benefit -- more benefit, more deals. It's a virtuous cycle.

But if you decide that you're not going to buy that computer, because you're afraid -- because of what the press just wrote -- you're helping to proliferate the problem. If you buy it anyway, and other people do, then you're helping to proliferate a better economy. And it's not just buying decisions -- it's decisions on business deals, on partnerships, on networks, on all those things. All of those deals get tightened up when people start thinking "How long do I have to survive?" And that's what's going on.

Profound Statements

1. In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm and three or more is a congress.-- John Adams

2. If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.-- Mark Twain

3. Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself.-- Mark Twain

4. I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle .-- Winston Churchill

5. A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.-- George Bernard Shaw

6. A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.-- G. Gordon Liddy

7. Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.-- James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)

8. Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.-- Douglas Casey, Georgetown University

9. Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.-- P.J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian

10. Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.-- Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)

11. Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.-- Ronald Reagan (1986)

12. I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.-- Will Rogers

13. If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free!-- P.J. O'Rourke

14. In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.-- Voltaire (1764)

15. Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you!-- Pericles (430 B.C.)

16. No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.-- Mark Twain (1866)

17. Talk is cheap...except when Congress does it.-- Anonymous

18. The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.-- Ronald Reagan

19. The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.-- Winston Churchill

20. The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. -- Mark Twain

21. The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

22. There is no distinctly native American criminal Congress.-- Mark Twain

23. What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.-- Edward Langley, Artist (1928-1995)

24. A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.-- Thomas Jefferson

Monday, February 23, 2009

Here are my top ten reasons start ups fail.

1. They run out of money. Usually, they are too optimistic about when their product is going to be accepted by the market.

2. Founders don’t have complete faith in each other. They fight instead of delegate, trust and verify with each other.

3. CEO hires weak team members. Strong CEOs sometimes try to carry everyone with them rather than hiring people who stand up on their own.

4. They want to do too much. Usually, a successful start up figures out a narrow niche that they can dominate and then expands from there.

5. They go after too small a market.

6. They don’t charge enough from their customers to survive. These often think their vcs are their customers, and think that a nice sale is all they need to make to get more money.

7. They hire too many people up front. Too many mouths to feed too early can sink a company. Keep a low burn until you have your business model in place.

8. They get unlucky. Broadsided by competitors, new technologies, big companies changing direction, etc.

9. They don’t work hard enough or fast enough or smart enough. All those little decisions add up to an outcome. Awareness of the subtleties of their market dynamics, etc.

10. They don’t take enough risks. Some start-up entrepreneurs think that they should operate as though they are big companies. This is wrong. They will never beat Microsoft or Google at their own game. They must get creative and do things differently, even at the risk of embarrassment.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tim loved his trip to the Middle East and made a new friend

The camel tried to kiss me and then was bowing to me.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Email Interview with New America Foundation Senior Fellow Joe Mathews

- The level of engagement in state politics and government by Silicon Valley and its leaders. is it on the rise? the decline? Why?

Well, Government spending as a percentage of GNP continues to rise as GNP growth falls. Silicon Valley is full of entrepreneurs that identify problems and solve them in a variety of ways. I think the Silicon Valley has recognized a big problem in government, which to some represents an opportunity for change.

- we're seeing more candidates for statewide office from Silicon Valley.
Is there an explanation for that that goes beyond the interests of the individuals who are running?

Yes. I think government is broken for entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Sarbanes Oxley costs a fortune, so great growth companies can't afford to go public. FAS 157 forces mark to market for venture capitalists, who then have to report short term pricing on long term assets, so the investors get scared away. 409A makes it so that companies have to report income for stock options. All of these regulations were written for very large companies. Small business creates all the net new jobs in our country and they are being strangled out of existence by regulators who are focused on big businesses.

Silicon Valley, the greatest source in the world for innovation, the pride of the American Dream is being threatened, and the people of Silicon Valley know it either explicitly or viscerally. Some of the best of them are trying to do something about it.

Has that led to more interest in state issues in Silicon Valley?

Yes. State and Federal. I personally don't know why California has to add more regulation on top of the already burdensome federal regulations, but they do.

Or more political competition within the valley?

I think people of the Silicon Valley all know something is wrong with government, but they don't all know how to fix it.

- on what state policy areas are we seeing the most engagement from Silicon Valley?

Education is a big one. K-12 costs us a fortune and the biggest state ranks somewhere between 47th and dead last in math and science. We are supposed to be the technology capital. Another one is H-1B Visas. I think anyone who comes to the US and gets a master's degree in science or business should get an immediate work visa. The idea that California educates the best and the brightest from all over the world and then, when they are finally productive, deports them so they can't build the next Google here is ludicrous. Environmental issues are a third one.

People in Silicon Valley don't want to be in a situation where they run out of energy. So they are looking for alternatives. It is no surprise that the Tesla didn't come out of Detroit, but came out of the Silicon Valley. At Draper Fisher Jurvetson, we have gone after the environmental problem through the funding of start ups. BrightSource uses solar thermal technology and may be driving enormous energy supply for Californians. I personally think the environmentalists should be chanting, "more nukes." Nuclear power is proven to be cleaner, cheaper, cooler and lower in greenhouse gases than most alternatives, and it can actually make a dent in our fossil fuel use. Solar, Wind, Thermal, etc.

all add up to less than one percent of our energy use.

education? workforce development? environment and energy? Are there areas where we should be seeing more engagement? (I wonder about transportation and infrastructure; the University of California and the education of engineers; wage and hour rules; and tort reform).

Tort reform really needs to take place. Loser pays would really work better. It would keep deviant lawyers from launching low risk, high return lawsuits at businesses. I also think that class action lawsuits should have to be agreed to by a majority of the class who wants to sue before they can be launched. Right now, one shareholder with one share can make a great living suing every company he wants.

- what ideas, if any, do you have for connecting Silicon Valley and Sacramento in a more productive way?

This sounds like dangerous socialist thinking.

How do you get folks in SV interested and engaged in state affairs, when they're so busy with their companies?

They only get interested when the government is failing or messing with their lives. As it is now. Otherwise they would naturally deem it to be unproductive time.

- we saw some major SV companies take a strong stand against Prop 8.
Does that experience suggest a path to greater engagement?

No, I think people in the Silicon Valley don't want the government to determine their lifestyle.

-is the current infrastructure of engagement in the valley -- i'm thinking of technet, slvg -- enough?
For the revolution we need? Probably not. If it is just there to work around the edges, it is too much.

Overall, I'm interested in these questions because of frustration: here you have the state of California facing crisis on several fronts, and a profound need for innovative solutions. And the most creative, innovative part of the state does not seem as engaged as it might be in coming up with solutions. (Of course, the same could be of many other areas and industries in California).

Yes. With the economy taking a hit, people are focused on their businesses as they should be. I have suggested a number of cost saving alternatives to the Governor. I hope he implements them.

Survival 2010 Tips

Interview with Reena Jadhav, CEO nuResume, where we discuss impact of the current economic crisis on venture backed companies. Bottom line: this is a crisis you can take advantage of and an opportunity to grab huge markets!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Obama's Maximum Wage Limit

I think President Obama is brilliant, and we need a smart confident leader, so I am 100% behind him. I can only hope that this limitation curtails government spending, because the best businesspeople might not take the money.

Government spending as a % of GNP has grown steadily from 7% to 40% over the last century. In the same period, GNP growth has shrunk from an average of about 8% to about 2% (and now negative). These two numbers are highly correlated.

I think government pay increases should be tied to GNP growth (not CPI). They would then all have the right incentives.

The "slippery slope" is that Congress is not cognizant of what all the "spend and control" politics does to the business world. It creates a culture of need rather than a culture of opportunity and attracts the worst, most needy businesses. It makes the best businesses, who thrive in a culture of opportunity leave our country for Singapore or China or wherever. Governments are in competition for the great minds and the capital of the world. If the US Government doesn't perform, the best of us will leave for the free-market countries.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Washington Outsider

I went to a heady event in Washington last night. Great fun.

I met Barbara Walters and told her that my daughter, Jesse was the “Valley Girl” and asked if she had any advice for her. She said, “It is all about the second question.”

I asked Warren Buffett what he thought the government should do about the economy if anything, and he said, “They should try everything and see what sticks.” Then he said, “We are going to get through this.” Good news.

I also met Our First Lady, Michelle Obama for the first time, who is charming and stunning in person. I suggested that she go out shopping with her daughters for a press event to get people buying things and getting this economy moving again, and she said, “Great idea. Go tell Barack—go tell the President that.” So I did. He looked across at her and smiled. I think we have a great President.

The brilliant and thoughtful Jeb Bush mentioned that he reads this blog, and has been doing some consulting since leaving office. Maybe time for DFJ to have a Florida Network Partner….

Michael Dell wouldn’t tell me if he was going to compete with Apple’s iPhone. I think a lower priced compatible DellPhone would take the world by storm.

I told the beautiful Sarah Palin that I love Alaska and that they have to fix the fire alarm in the only hotel in Juneau because it went off every time I stayed there, and she said, “We do that so the tourists can fully experience the Alaskan winter.” Still a great sense of humor.

John McCain is perhaps the nicest man ever. Vern Jordan is perhaps the greatest orator ever.

Here is a report on the evening by a real reporter:

I also met several “Washington insiders.” My conclusion there: I think our capital should move out of DC. The people there are too insulated from their country. They become a cancer for the people who come to Washington trying to make a difference. Not many of them made any real connection between our business environment and our economy. Even my limo driver there was trying to get more money out of government, not realizing where that money was actually coming from. The NYC drivers know.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

2 Million Minutes - More on Education in India and China

The US could learn a lesson or two about high school education from the Indians and the Chinese. Some sort of a free market for schools would be a nice start.

2 Million Minutes