VC:VC Hibernation

It is tough for your venture cyclist not to hibernate in the sour winter. I am not a hardy cyclist and so you will not often see me on the roads during this season, if at all. However, cycling is not far from my thoughts, as Dan Victor, the first of my friends asking me to sponsor him on the Hazon Israel bike ride sent me a note of his plans. Also, the Hazon 2007 NY ride registration is now open, much earlier than in previous years. Hannah and I plan to ride again (cue the music). Have you thought about spending Labor Day weekend on this excellent adventure with us?

Last weekend was the Hazon board retreat - a six hour meeting during which reviewed the past year and looked ahead to the next. One area of board focus this year will be how we can measure our progress and success - not just program by program, but with respect to our mission and vision. More and more we are talking about our vision as "Hazon seeks to promote a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, as a step towards a healthier and more sustainable world for all." Does that resonate well (or not)? Your comments are welcome.

In the other part of my VC life, the venture capital side, this is generally a busy time of year - not a time for hibernating at all (perhaps this is why VC bloggers do appear to hibernate). The sloth of the "holiday season" is behind us and we are all working to catch up. As are most VCs, I am working with my companies on very serious reviews of 2007 plans. A couple of them are working towards follow-on financing which adds to the fun. We all get out of the office for another reason as well: different sub-permutations of the partnership also visit all our LPs (outside investors) once we have closed the books for the year, starting next week.

On one last note, I spent a little time this week thinking about the art vs the science of venture capital investing. I am a great believer in the Sigma approach to investing as an art. Early stage companies success is mostly about the people who lead them (at least in our opinion), and so we focus on that far more than market sizing or other financial models. However, my partners also know I am interested in whether hard data can help us think about our portfolio investment decisions. With that in mind I had the pleasure of meeting Paul Gompers this week. Paul is a professor at Harvard Business School who specializes in entrepreneurship and the VC world. Many of our areas of interest overlap, and he recommended a book (Venture Capital and the Finance of Innovation, by Andrew Metrick) which reviews the current intersection of practice and academic thinking around the science of VC investing. Now reading such a book comes close to the sins of sloth or lust, according to Bob Davoli's seven deadly VC sins, but it is now on order, and I look forward to seeing what application, if any, I can make of its ideas.

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