Is San Francisco the New Epicenter of Silicon Valley?

September 6, 2010

For years it’s been an open secret – young entrepreneurs and tech-savvy folks who work for the big Silicon Valley conglomerates have been living in San Francisco while commuting to Silicon Valley. After all, does anyone really relocate to northern California to live in Mountain View?

Now it appears that many of these people also did not move to the Bay Area to commute. They’ve started companies in San Francisco proper – not 30 or 40 miles south on the 101 freeway in Palo Alto or San Jose, traditional epicenters of what’s typically considered Silicon Valley.

According to the San Francisco Sunday Examiner, San Francisco has been “beating out South Bay cities for venture capital, boosting key sectors and creating a hotbed of growing firms.” Software companies, social media, gaming, green tech and biotech are leading the pack of industry sectors attracting the VC dollars.

Good news for the entire innovative tech industry in the Bay Area (which includes Silicon Valley and San Francisco): “investors poured nearly $3 billion into Bay Area companies in the past three months – a 100 percent increase from the first quarter.” More than $283 million went to companies located in San Francisco. (Read more)

Should Australia Build a Great Technology Sector?

July 18, 2010

by Viki Forrest, CEO ANZA Technology Network

First, I’d like to go on record and congratulate two recent Australian technology success stories – Atlassian and its co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar and Tapulous co-founder Andrew Lacy. For all who have been following Aussie tech news this month, Atlassian’s closing on a $60 million (USD) round of funding from Accel Partners here in Silicon Valley and Tapulous’ multi-million dollar sale to Disney prove yet again that America looks to Australia’s innovative tech sector for fresh ideas that are well executed.

I didn’t join in on the dust up over at the Delimiter blog, when blogger Renai LeMay chose to call out the Atlassian founders for taking American VC, rather than trying to raise such money in Australia. As the CEO of the ANZA Technology Network it’s our business to link the Australian and American tech communities. Since 2002, when ANZA was founded, that link has been one-way – Aussie innovation toward American dollars and customers.

While ANZA strives to accelerate Australian entrepreneurs getting a foothold in the US market, while reducing costs and risks – it is also our goal to see Australian companies succeed here in the US. It’s not about Australian companies coming to America and creating jobs for Americans. It is about Australian companies taking advantage of the welcoming climate for their innovations in Silicon Valley – and ultimately, to see those who are as successful as Mike and Scott and Andrew to “give back” to Aussie innovative technology by working with – and maybe someday investing in – the next generation of entrepreneurs.

I have met with Mike and I have very recently corresponded with Andrew and I can assure you that both men are eager to work with Aussie entrepreneurs. Not to create a “brain drain”, but rather to help get some top-class Aussie innovation to the world stage. From there anything is possible – including more jobs for Australians in R&D and engineering (these positions tend to stay in Australia when a company expands into the US) and reinvestment back into the community (not necessarily as VC, but into the universities, the incubators, the industry organizations).

So – to answer Renai’s blog post question, “How Can Australia Build a Great Technology Sector?”, by which presumably he means one that is its own ecosystem including funding, I have to ask the question “Why does it need to?”

I need to look no further than a webinar ANZA is hosting tomorrow called “Sizing Up the US Market” and the words on my own website. The US market is 15 times the size of Australia’s. Stop. In a webinar we’ve scheduled for next week on funding – we note that less than 1% of companies – worldwide – ever even receive venture capital. Case closed. Australia needs to continue to do what it does best – innovate. The US market demands it.

How to Nail the 5-Minute Pitch

May 27, 2010

Some helpful pointers from Chuck Dietrich, chief executive of online presentation startup SlideRocket, writing the Entrepreneur Corner in VentureBeat. Chuck sees thousands of these classic 5-minute pitches a year and is “surprised by how many presentations don’t convey a clear story.”

A great “company pitch” presentation leaves venture capitalists, prospects, and judges inspired. The audience should walk away with the ability to restate your company’s vision, a clear picture of how you will achieve that vision, and the economic ramifications of attaining it. If the audience is inspired and can accurately re-tell your story, then your presentation was effective.

He highlights three main points every startup CEO should remember and gives a good, basic pitch outline worthy of review. Click here to read these short, but effective steps for nailing your 5-minute pitch opportunities.

Entrepreneurs Take the Risks, Not VCs

May 3, 2010

A TechCrunch post by Vivek Wadhwa includes a Q&A with three entrepreneurs who bootstrapped their way to success.

Wadhwa reminds us, “The reality is that less than 5% of venture money goes to seed-stage startups; VCs typically invest when a company has a working product, a tested business model, and a strong management team.” To get to this point, entrepreneurs must make sacrifices, hard choices and call on the support of family and friends (and credit cards). Wadhwa argues that it’s the entrepreneurs who are the real risk takers, not the VCs. (Read more)

Web’s New Sharing Wave the Rage Among VCs

April 23, 2010

FourSquare, Blippy, Skimble, Swipely, Dopplr and Daily Booth? How many of these new “sharing” sites and apps have you heard of…yet? Think back to 2007 and if someone asked you the same question about Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn?

Venture capitalists are betting on the new online openness those three top social networking sites have fostered to bring on the Web’s next wave — openly sharing everything from where you’re having a beer at the moment to how much you just spent on DVDs, clothes or even a nose job!

See today’s story in the New York Times, “For Web’s New Wave, Sharing Is the Point” by Brad Stone for the scoop.

Enter the Dragon: Shanghai, Sydney, Silicon Valley Venture Capital Forum, November 19/20

November 10, 2009

enterdragonsvIs Shanghai the next Silicon Valley? Will China’s formidable economic presence on the world stage bring entrepreneurs and venture capitalists together to build solutions for the next generation?

Come find out the answers to these questions and more when Advance presents “Enter the Dragon”, a video conference linking Silicon Valley, Shanghai and Sydney, November 19/20. Click here for times and location in each city and to register now.

Learn more about: China’s emerging opportunities for innovative entrepreneurs in the global economy; the difference between Silicon Valley and China VC ecosystems; building your global networks for business opportunities; navigating a foreign market with trusted resources; China’s growing clean and green tech market opportunities; how Silicon Valley’s innovation and Australia’s unique blend of resources, clean fossil fuels, water and solar technologies will neatly fit in this vast market sector as the world reshapes itself in the next two decades.

Panelists include:

  • Ford Tamer, Operating Partner, Khosla Ventures
  • Matt Jones, Partner, Nth Power
  • Ron Cao, Managing Director, Lightspeed Venture Partners, China
  • Alison Leopold Tilley, Partner, Pillsbury, co-leader South East Asia team
  • Darren Ho, Managing Partner, CMHJ China
  • Tony Surtees, Executive Director, Prime Digitalworks Pty Ltd
  • Dr. Mannie Liu, Director, Renmin University, Venture Capital Research Center
  • Victor Westerlind, General Partner, RockPort Capital Partners

Moderated from Silicon Valley by Dr. Larry Marshall, Managing Director, Southern Cross Venture Partners and from Shanghai by Joseph W.K. Chan, Partner and Head of China VC & PE, Pillsbury.

This event is FREE to ANZA TechNet and Advance members. Sponsored by Advance, with support from ANZA TechNet, Southern Cross Venture Partners and Pillsbury. Click here to register as well as to get the locations and time for this event in Silicon Valley, Sydney and Shanghai.

Results of the 3Q Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist Confidence Index

October 29, 2009

Read the interpretation of the steady results revealed in University of San Francisco associate professor of entrepreneurship Mark Cannice’s quarterly study of nearly 40 Silicon Valley VCs byTechCrunch writer Sarah Lacey in “Venture Capital’s 3Q Temperature” .

On a scale of 0 to 5, VCs view the current climate for investing and economic recovery to be 3.37. This is the same figure Cannice derived in 2Q ’09. The good news is VCs still feel there are a lot of good new companies out there, and they know that to make returns ten years from now, they have to keep the dollars flowing now.

But there’s a downside that keeps the score stagnant from 2Q to 3Q ’09. According to Lacey, “if VCs can’t spin mature companies off to buyers or public market investors, they have to keep more reserves for them that can’t go to new deals. And without those exits—some firms may not be able to raise their next funds, which also hurts their ability to do new deals.” (Read more)

Note: To read the 3Q Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist Confidence Index in full, click here.