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December 29, 2009
November 4, 2009
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Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures on thesis investing:
Thesis driven investing involves drawing a picture of where your particular area of focus is going. I like to take a five to ten year view. And once you have mapped out that picture, it becomes your thesis. And you evaluate every investment you make in the context of that thesis.
On slow capital, another point of agreement with Mr. Wilson. Slow capital
1) doesn’t rush to conclusions and doesn’t expect entrepreneurs to do so either
2) flows into a company based on the company’s needs, not the investor’s needs
3) starts small and grows with the company as it grows
4) has no set timetable for getting liquid: slow capital is patient capital
5) takes the time to understand the company and the people who make it up
read the whole thing here, from A VC
October 18, 2009
Sometimes the big American idea is lost in shrill noise. The noisy reaction to President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize is an example. Bono is not only a clear voice but a careful reader. For support, he points to these 36 words in President Obama’s September 23 2009 speech to the United Nations General Assembly.
“We will support the Millennium Development Goals, and approach next year’s summit with a global plan to make them a reality. And we will set our sights on the eradication of extreme poverty in our time.”
The Bono op-ed is here, along with his call to action:
Because the world sees that America might just hold the keys to solving the three greatest threats we face on this planet: extreme poverty, extreme ideology and extreme climate change. The world senses that America, with renewed global support, might be better placed to defeat this axis of extremism with a new model of foreign policy.
This may be the biggest idea yet.
October 4, 2009
The employment data are really disturbing:
September was the 21st straight month of job loss — the longest unbroken stretch of losses since record-keeping began in 1939 — bringing to 7.2 million the number of positions that have been axed since December 2007. And that understates the damage. During the recession, the economy has failed to create another 2.7 million jobs that were needed simply to employ new workers — like high school and college graduates, immigrants and stay-at-home parents who want to go back to work.
The unemployment rate for September — 9.8 percent — also understates the damage. It would have been higher but for the fact that 571,000 people dropped out of the work force last month — in general, it’s assumed, because they’ve despaired of finding work. If they had kept looking, they would have been counted as unemployed.
The combination of a rising unemployment rate and a quickening pace of labor-force dropouts is especially worrisome. In September, the employment rate for all workers — defined as the share of the population with a job — fell to 58.8 percent, its lowest level in more than 25 years. For adult men, who have been particularly hard hit by job loss in this recession, the employment rate fell to 67 percent, its lowest level since the government began keeping track in 1948. Before this recession, that rate had never dropped below 70.5 percent.
A shrinking labor force represents a tremendous waste of talent and potential, a loss of value that will not be entirely retrievable. Widespread joblessness among men is particularly devastating for the economy and many families, because men tend to earn more than women and to have jobs offering health insurance.
To make matters worse, unemployment among men and women is proving relentless. Of the 15.1 million people who are now officially counted as unemployed, over a third have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer, the highest percentage of long-term unemployment on record. By the end of the year, benefits will expire for more than one million unemployed workers.
Two things are true. 1. Necessity is the mother of invention. 2. Research-driven invention grows markets.
The need to create jobs is clear. To help, Beyond Profit is forming the Beyond Profit Venture Fund. The Fund will provide early stage capital supporting leadership development and job creation in promising young American bioscience and technology innovation companies. Please get in touch if you have finance and investment experience along with a passion to help accelerate growth of new companies in these sectors.
October 2, 2009
September 27, 2009
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The following quote in Thomas Friedman’s column “The New Sputnik” caught my attention:
I met this week with Shi Zhengrong, the founder of Suntech, already the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels. Shi recalled how, shortly after he started his company in Wuxi, nearby Lake Tai, China’s third-largest freshwater lake, choked to death from pollution.
“After this disaster,” explained Shi, “the party secretary of Wuxi city came to me and said, ‘I want to support you to grow this solar business into a $15 billion industry, so then we can shut down as many polluting and energy consuming companies in the region as soon as possible.’ He is one of a group of young Chinese leaders, very innovative and very revolutionary, on this issue. Something has changed. China realized it has no capacity to absorb all this waste. We have to grow without pollution.”
If Friedman’s account is accurate, and it is OK for young Chinese politicians to be environmental revolutionaries, the US appears to be lagging behind.
August 26, 2009
In this Boston.com article, Jonah Lehrer, author of “How We Decide.” and “Proust Was a Neuroscientist,” points out new research by Marc Berman, a psychologist at the University of Michigan that measured the positive impact of green space on cognition. Some of the research was conducted in the Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor, my home town.