Startup America

On Monday , the White House announced Startup America. The CTO of US, Aneesh Chopra, blogged about it on Techcrunch.  My friend Brad Feld was there and blogged about it.

I have no involvement with Startup America, at least yet. But I am a fan of it for one simple reason – they are paying attention. Let me explain.

For years, entrepreneurs in NYC, particularly tech entrepreneurs, labored largely in silence. The city government was focused on the big employers and real estate. Tech entrepreneurship was something that happened elsewhere. It was largely ignored.

Then a year or two ago, the city woke up. Our mayor, himself one of the best tech entrepreneurs of his generation, woke up. They started paying attention to the emerging tech sector. The Mayor started coming our our events. The city took our calls. And they are now working with the tech sector to make things easier and support good ideas. I tell them privately and publicly that I don't agree with all that they are doing and wish they would do other things. But at least they are doing and listening. That is a huge step in the right direction.

Now it appears the White House is paying attention too. They've got smart experienced people like Steve Case, Carl Schramm, and Brad Feld advising them. They've got programs in place and more on the way.

Do I agree with all that they are doing? No. Just like NYC, I wish they would do other things. Just like NYC, I will blog about them.

One thing that jumps out to me is the focus on what is working (tech entrepreneurship) and the lack of focus on what is not working (health care entrepreneurship, energy enetrepreneurship, community entrepreneurship). I'll make sure they hear that criticism, from me and from others.

But this effort gives us an opening. We can get things like visa reform on the White House's agenda through new channels. We can push back on nutty ideas like regulating VC firms so that my blog posts would have to be signed off on a compliance officer before they go public. We can shine a light on areas that need help and those that are doing "just fine, thank you."

I live and work in startup america and I am glad the White House is paying attention to us now.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Lawrence Oluyede

    Could it be a step forward for the “famous” Startup Visa too?

    1. fredwilson

      i sure hope so

      1. Girish Rao

        In terms of a Startup Visa, there should be a way the US and Canada can get the ball rolling almost immediately. Something even temporary to begin with, like the TN Visa, which allows thousands of Canadians to work in the US every year, would be a great start.Also, the minimum funding requirement should be reduced, to $100,000. This funding should not be required to come from institutional investors, but from any variety of sources.Lastly, there should not be a requirement for a minimum number of employees — who knows when a business model/product may take off and being forced to unnecessarily hire only cuts into the entrepreneur’s runway. (Perhaps this minimum number of employees metric might be taken into consideration if the $100K funding requirement cannot be met).No doubt I’m sure the devil is in the details with these kinds of things, but this is an urgent issue that the US needs to address in order to compete and _lead_ globally.

    2. fredwilson

      and the idea of a visa stapled to a diploma too

      1. andyswan

        On a separate note, The University of Phoenix today announces the “18 week international fast-track diploma”…. 🙂

        1. fredwilson

          yup, not every diploma should have a visa stapled to itthere needs to be some quality filter

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Why not apply a quality filter to immigration in general (as Australia and Canada do)?

          2. fredwilson

            great ideabut the devil is in the detailsquality is to some extent in the eye of the beholder

          3. Peter Beddows

            So true and therein lies the rub.

          4. ShanaC

            I so could imagine a famous artist getting no visa based on “requirement lists”

          5. Peter Beddows

            Challenge to the devil’s advocate.You raise a viable point for debate in a much broader context but should not distract from what we need in terms of returning our country to viability on all fronts.Art is “nice” and “welcome” and does have “public value” but will not directly put cash back into our struggling economy nor raise us back to a position of influence in the world in general.

          6. ShanaC

            Auction houses? Keeping Galleries open? Creating Addicts to Dick Blick? Paint production? Classes?

          7. Dave Pinsen

            I can’t, since they’d qualify for an E1 visa.

          8. ShanaC

            E1 is very limited. let’s take Mona Hatoum as an example. If she didn’thappen to also have british citizenship (her background is Palestinian) shewouldn’t qualify for an E1, both because at this point she is considered”self employed” (most artists are), and because of her background(Palestinian from Lebanon), despite being shortlisted for the Turner.

          9. Dave Pinsen

            Australia and Canada managed to come up with some objective criteria. I think we could too.

          10. Murali

            That is probably coming in the United States within the next 5 years, at least in some shape or form.Murali Bashyam, Join us on Facebook and Twitter

  2. Jonathan Nation

    I hope it’s not just lip service & a simple political stunt or attempt to take control of more.

    1. fredwilson

      that is the worry, of course

    2. Jonathan Nation

      Here are some additional explanation.Fred, you are probably correct that the POTUS/Admin is paying attention to something new and different. The questions are Who & Why?:: Who ::Two major options:1. StartUps/Entrepreneurs/SmallBiz2. Citizens/People/Economists1. this would mean that everything you say is correct & they are working towards more business ownership, independence, and financial freedom for more.2. this would indicate that they are probably just attempting to take polls of what the mood is & form a message that will be palatable. They will use every crisis to the best of their ability (or replace crisis to situation):: Why? ::A. A belief in independence, and freedomB. A belief in government is required for successA. this options has not been the pattern in regard to big business, so assuming that this is the goal or focus for small seems a little off. Maybe it’s wealth envy that causes them to beat down on business & is why they will support (and not try to control) small biz in the same light … seems a little out of character to me.B. this is typically a major way I see President Obama. It’s a love and full faith in the US Fed Government. Government knows best & can save anything … and should control everything. The great equalizer. This sounds good but the results are typically worse off for almost all. For the US Fed Government to make someone a winner … including a startup, it must make someone (or many people) a looser.There are exceptions to this idea, like Fred mentioned in the original piece – repeal of bad laws is something only the Fed Govmnt can do & does no harm (unless you consider cutting off someone who has been using the bad law for gain — but I will not be crying for them).Like I said originally … I hope it is the more desirable options on both these (and other questions) & not a simple “lets talk about what is cool & push out “I <3 Government” agenda.

      1. andyswan

        Spot on. Why would we trust anyone that just passed INCREASED restrictions on startup investments and wants INCREASED capital gains taxes? Silly.

      2. sigmaalgebra

        “the results are typically worse off for almost all.”Amazing: You got SO close but still missed it!Your arrow must have gone into an old hole in the center of the target and all the way though and out the back side!For the people the POTUS wants to help, that is, everyone but “almost all”, they will be better off. Proof: They are so bad off that any “change” would be an improvement!Uh, when he was in South Chicago doing ‘community organizing’, he concluded that to really help he needed more “power”. Now he has it and has been trying to use it.Hint, hint: “Spread the wealth around.”Eventually “almost all” the people will figure this out.Uh, he’s shown that it’s possible to fool almost all of the people some of the time, indeed, for at least a few years!While this comment explains what you mentioned, there’s more to the POTUS than that. My reading, however, is that the rest is close.

        1. Jonathan Nation

          I never expected to be attached by the capitalist side of this argument, since it is the side I really am on.I think I was accurate in my wording, for:- there are people that President Obama does not want to help & wants to hurt (those making over $250k for one example).- There are people that are helped both short and long term from the policies that President Obama wants – so saying 100% or all are worse off is probably inaccurate & much harder to explain (the concept of relative loss is lost on most)@sigmaalgebra – I suspect if we were sitting face to face we would agree with most things. How to debate an argument (or influence people) online is probably one of those that we would not.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            I was agreeing with you! Your arrow went through the center of the target!Uh, you wrote, “This sounds good but”, and I was responding to the “but”. I was saying that, for the “almost all” that will be worse off, he doesn’t care. Maybe he even takes pleasure in ‘sticking it’ to them.So, I was saying that he cares about the all but the “almost all”. That is, his focus is on less then 10% of the population.That is, your “but” implied a conflict, and I was saying that in the mind of the POTUS there is no conflict, that he knows he is going for less than 10% of the population and can even take pleasure in what he does to the 90+%.So, I was resolving the implied conflict in your “but” by taking a position closer to yours than you were, that is, without the seeming conflict.So, you are correct about your last remark! Here today, maybe for the first and last time, I’m trying to write briefly and, as usual when I try that, I get misunderstood!So, if you get near the Planet Diner in Dutchess County in NYS, I’ll buy the coffee! If they have a Sachertorte, I’ll buy that, too!

        2. ShanaC

          You know, I lived in the South Side (ok sort of, Hyde Park is weird)He is absolutely right about some of the need for more power. Chicago politics and just parts of the inherent racism caused by redlining demands it.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            Yup, there are problems there. I’m sorry about the problems.I was there once: My wife was brilliant, PBK, Woodrow Wilson, ‘Summa Cum Laude’, and took her two years of NSF in one award to University of Chicago. I was still in DC at GE Information Systems and working to join her ASAP. IBM had given me an offer to hold hands of their oil refinery linear programming customers. On a trip to some GE customers, I got sick, really out of it. Flying back, I stopped in Chicago so my wife could pour enough OJ and TLC into me to get me ready to fly back to DC.So, UC had run out of dorm space, had bought an old hotel, and had my wife in it. So, we walked around the area a little. I was terrified for her.She also hated the situation, and not just the neighborhood, and was in tears at Xmas, joined me in DC, and got her Ph.D. at Hopkins instead.Again, I’m sorry about the problems. I grew up in Memphis, hated seeing the problems there, and was thrilled to leave and go to IN, DC, and NY.I believe that something can be done about the problems, but it won’t be easy. I doubt that a good solution would have to cost very much and, net, might save a bundle.But I don’t believe that the POTUS has even as much as a weak little hollow hint of a tiny clue about what to do about what he cares about or anything else.We might start by reading Moynihan and then starting a lot of small but well evaluated pilot programs.

          2. ShanaC

            It is totally possible that hotel has been sold (Shoreland Hall?)No, I don’t think he has a clue about the depth of problems. I don’t thinkeven experts understand the full scope. Then again I think it is a humongous set of structural problems, and I am a least glad he got a look. I agree with you that something could be done (or at least more)

  3. kidmercury

    Lol….you guys just don’t get it, do you….no worries. As you wish. Just remember, you chose this, every step of the way. Remember you were warned years in advance, and you chose fear.Ignorance is futile. Only the truth can set us free.

    1. fredwilson

      i am fully warned Kidnot just by you but by many in this communityi choose to live an optimistic life

      1. awaldstein

        I’m with you on this Fred. You can’t have change without an optimistic perspective towards what can be accomplished.Being labeled as motivated and naive suits me fine.

      2. kidmercury

        lol….too bad your definition of optimism includes ignoring the obvious.not sure if i ever told you this boss but 9/11 was an inside job.dollar index dipped below 77 yesterday. oil peaked above 92.but no worries, you guys have already made your choice to ask for more handouts. let’s see if it turns out any differently than it has for the past 10 years. who knows, maybe this time ignorance wins.

  4. Michael Lewkowitz

    Bang on Fred… entrepreneurship is most need where applied to what’s needed for our future. Communities, education, healthcare, energy, etc… are some of those areas. In the US the government has taken a bit of a crack at it through the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation.… Would be great to see more intentional overlap.

  5. Dave Chase (@chasedave)

    Some cause for optimism on the healthcare entrepreneurship front…There’s a trickle beginning that should lead to a flood of innovation. In your backyard, One Medical Group was recently written about in the NYTimes. For my money, the most interesting new venture already out there is Qliance out of Seattle backed by the founders of Amazon, aQuantive, Dell, and Expedia. They’ve taken the notion of “concierge medicine” to the common man – affordable, free of the insurance bureaucrat “tax” (40%+) and reducing expensive surgery/specialist/ER visits by 50-70%…all while achieving Google/Apple level Net Promoter scores. This is an example of how we disrupt what I call the current health payment system – A Gordian Knot designed by Rube Goldberg. That flawed payment model is the core reason why what we spend on healthcare has gone up 274x in my lifetime (vs. 8x for all other consumer goods).If you are interested in that topic and some ways to fix it, read my Huffington Post pieces “Do it yourself Health Reform” and “Health Insurance’s Bunker Buster.” This link goes to the DIY article which has a link to the bunker buster piece – http://www.huffingtonpost.c…. In the bunker buster piece, I wrote about a little-noticed facet of the new health law that Qliance was instrumental in getting in that will create a huge opportunity for new non-insurance models. Full disclosure: I’m working on a startup that we believe will be enable various new innovative models (inside and outside of the insurance model) so I do have a dog in this fight.

    1. ShanaC

      Do any of these things have a google like dash for my health. All I want is a personal dash?And wtf about the 274% That number needs to be much much lower.

  6. ErikSchwartz

    To play devil’s advocate for a moment…Many tech startups disrupt industries by shrinking them. Josh Kopelman has written extensively about the phenomena (… ). Amazon while hugely profitable and successful destroyed many more jobs than it created (albeit mostly low paying retail bookstore jobs). Most consumer technology startups have a significant component of using technology to replace human labor.Is encouraging replacing lower level jobs with technology solutions to increase profit margins a good way to lead the country out of a jobless recession?As I said, I’m mostly playing devil’s advocate here.

    1. markslater

      this is a big discussion erik.the whole school of thought behind the “jobless recovery” is the very notion that a perfect storm has been created where by america struggles to transform in to a quasi services based economy, all the while its major areas of innovation are chopping the legs off of the workforce and not replacing it with opportunities.So the big question is – do VC’s actually create jobs through backing entrepreneurial-ism? or do they simply profit from the delta between jobs lost and those created?My take is twofold.We have far big structural issues within our economy than worrying about this and in fact i’d argue that our country NEEDS an innovation edge to survive and prosper in tomorrows world of uncertainty.second – there are a great many cases where VC’s have invested in things that actually CREATE NEW STUFF not just by disintermediating antiquated ways of doing things.

      1. ErikSchwartz

        I am just a humble inventor. Economics (especially at this scale) is not a domain in which I have any expertise.Creating new stuff is much riskier disintermediating old industries. Many VCs (especially the mediocre ones in the middle) are quite risk adverse.

      2. Dave Pinsen

        “in fact i’d argue that our country NEEDS an innovation edge to survive”Taking Erik’s tack and playing devil’s advocate for a moment, did you see Michael Lind’s take on this last week (“Innovation and education won’t save our economy?”)? A couple of relevant excerpts:We’ve heard it a thousand times, from American CEOs, pundits and politicians. And we’ll probably hear it again from President Obama, in his State of the Union address. The U.S., we are told, is losing its manufacturing industries to competitors like China because America is falling behind in innovation and education.It’s not true.U.S.-based multinationals are not transferring production to China and other countries because those nations surpass the U.S. in innovation. The U.S. remains the leader in global innovation, with a sophisticated system of creative interaction among universities, business, venture capitalists and government. […]It’s a sad reflection on America’s corporate leaders that instead of being honest with their fellow Americans about the true reasons for offshoring, they tend to blame America first, peddling the insulting story that we Americans are not innovative or educated enough to compete with a poor, dictatorial nation like China. The blame-America-first story is peddled as well by American politicians who receive corporate campaign donations and, after retirement, lucrative corporate board memberships, pundits who get paid on the corporate speaking circuit and academic economists with big corporate consulting contracts. These co-opted opinion leaders join the executives of U.S.-based multinationals in trying to divert the attention of the American people from the mercantilist industrial policies of countries like China that do not practice America’s version of free-market capitalism and have no intention of doing so.

        1. ShanaC

          I was listening to Planet Money recently (actually a pair) and talking to a friend at SAIS. We do a ridiculous amount of high end manufacturing in the US that does get exported. We also have quantified how teaching affects the economy.Let’s just take batteries for a moment as an example of education/nonprofit land and manufacturing. Ford(?) just bought a battery startup out of Argonne Labs, which is currently being managed by the University of Chicago (I found out via the alumni email).So while we may have exported normal battery production to China, the US still is using its educational ecosystem to outmanouver in speciality batteries. While I do think it would help for elements of the engineering side to bring back some of those factories – this example also shows how Mercantilism by itself doesn’t really stop innovation

          1. Dave Pinsen

            We still lead the world in manufacturing output (i.e., in dollar terms of what’s produced). But we have a much lower percentage of our workforce employed in manufacturing than we used to.What we need is a large enough core of good-paying blue collar jobs to stimulate demand that will support a middle class lifestyle for most of the country. A high school grad working at a big box retail job for $8 per hour can’t stimulate much demand without taking on debt, and those guys are tapped out already. The same guy making $20+ per hour in a manufacturing job can afford to spend a lot more. That additional spending supports all sorts of additional jobs in his community and elsewhere in the country (to the extent the stuff he buys is made here).Germany has about 20% of its workforce employed in manufacturing. We have less than 10%. We need to get closer to 20%, I think, to support a strong middle class. During the real estate bubble, home construction jobs temporarily made up for the loss of manufacturing jobs, but when that bubble popped, the increasing hollowness of our economy became more apparent.”this example also shows how Mercantilism by itself doesn’t really stop innovation”I don’t think anyone is arguing that. The point Lind was making was that we already lead the world in innovation and have been bleeding jobs despite that, for another reason (China’s mercantilism). So the logical thing to do is to focus on that other reason.

          2. MikeSchinkel

            I constantly hear “We need to (keep) more manufacturing jobs in the USA” and while I admit I’m not an economist it seems foreign to me (no pun intended.)Manufacturing that uses people for tasks are not high-value add jobs. Taken to the limit, practically all manufacturing can be automated. Why are we not instead focused on creating more knowledge workers and more entrepreneurs and inventors that can leverage said automation rather than propping up (what seems to me to be) a declining 20th century approach to value creation?That said, I’ll easily admit I’m wrong on this point is someone can just explain why manufacturing is such the holy grail some people make it out to be. Please?

          3. Dave Pinsen

            Not everyone can be a “knowledge worker”. That should be apparent to anyone familiar with an average public high school in America: there are the AP/honors kids (potential future knowledge workers), and then there’s the other ~70%, some of whom may also have the aptitude for knowledge work, but most of whom may not.Even a highly-automated factory employs some workers directly (albeit, fewer of them, than less efficient factories). Keeping a factory in the U.S. also means keeping a lot of related jobs there, including knowledge worker jobs (e.g., R&D often needs to be close to the factories). And factories that are efficient and produce high-margin products (take luxury sedans, for example) can afford to pay their workers well. So those workers can then afford to spend more in their local communities, supporting all sorts of other businesses (stores, restaurants, etc.). It becomes a virtuous circle.Germany, which, as I mentioned above, has a much higher percentage of its workforce employed in manufacturing than we do, has weathered the global financial crisis a lot better than we have, and it has lower unemployment than we do now.

          4. MikeSchinkel

            True, your point about everyone can’t be a “knowledge worker” but more people can than you give them credit for. We have a school in Atlanta called the Ron Clark Academy where the expectations are simply much higher than the norm, and the student excel far beyond what anyone expects they could. In the USA we simply don’t expect enough from our citizens, and I believe there are many types of jobs that can have high value besides just manufacturing. Enlightened programs could enable and empower that, but with the partisan infighting I don’t expect anything enlighted from the beltway (which is why the subject of Fred’s posts shocks me so, but in a good way.)I do see what you mean about having factories in the USA, but I see their value more for the companies that produce the goods and not so much for the jobs, except for the related jobs like sales and marketing, but those in many cases knowledge worker jobs. So I still think to rally cry for “manufacturing” is a red herring.As for Germany, funny, 10 years ago Germany’s economy was sick as a dog. It’s cyclical. Any analysis of where we are today without taking a much longer view is like saying in late 1999 that we should invest in Dotcom stocks because the past five years returns were so incredible. Germany simply had to deal with it’s issues sooner than the USA. And I’d question if Germany’s higher manufacturing percentage isn’t more of Germany’s stubborn “not-invented-here” superiority complex than a fundamental economic indicator, FWIW (note: I’m of German heritage so I unfortunately relate to the comment I just made about Germans.)

          5. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          6. ShanaC

            Germany can’t continue what it is doing either -The state owns pieces of VW, and even though we’ve massively restructuredour auto industry, there are still way too many cars in worldwide productioncompared to demand. Germany will have to fix that too, and there will go alarge chunk of its manufacturing output.

          7. FAKE GRIMLOCK


      3. fredwilson

        great discussion. i’ll try to weigh in on this when i get a break from my day. really important issue you guys are talking about

      4. Tereza

        yeah i think that’s why we see people (a whole different group of people) going ‘back’ into local farming and other artisenal things.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. ShanaC

            You know, Adam Smith totally agrees with you…

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          3. Blsavini

            What’s scary, is that I know how to breed tropical fish, and have actively bred within the group known as cichlids.Tilapia just happens to be within this overall biological classification of fish. Don’t think that I haven’t thought through, “my transferrable skill”.AND, also have family, still on single family farms in West Virginia and Ohio.

      5. JLM

        The concept of a “jobless recovery” is right up there with “jobs saved and created” as being meaningless bullshit that the media lets the administration get away with which is just plain bullshit.When an economy recovers — growth of GDP in two consecutive quarters as the most tepid measure of recovery — it ALWAYS spawns low level menial jobs from the trickle down impact of increased wealth.You let the gardener go on the way down and you hired a gardener on the way up.The reason we have a jobless recovery? Is because we have NO freakin’ recovery at all.

        1. ErikSchwartz

          I said “jobless recession”, I didn’t say “jobless recovery”.The only thing that’s recovered is the stock market.

        2. Blsavini

          Well, it’s important to have people believe that the U.S. is fiscally sound, especially when so many people’s retirement funding is via Mutual Funds. So, the Stock Market has crept back up, but at what cost?Bottom line, if some sort of TRUE reversal of our downward spiraling, doesn’t materialise soon, the upheavals that occur in other countries, such as what is occuring in Egypt, now, will eventually be part of the American way of life.History repeats. Empires reach the stage of decadence. Empires collapse. America is NOT imune.Is there no one within this country that has the ability to plan for the LONG TERM? Who’s going to buy the products and or services, if there are no jobs?The real estate crash was inevitable. You don’t crank out mortgages that “become due” in 5 years, push for outsourcing of the very jobs that might be able to pay the increased rates and then wonder why everything is collapsing.The writing has been on the wall for awhile, but everyone preferred to pretend it was “progress”.And everyone needs to stop blamng the Chinese. No one took our power; we gave it away.The “citizens” are running out of resources. Is chaos far behind?

          1. MikeSchinkel

            I wish I didn’t agree with you 100%. But I do.

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          3. JLM

            Much of what is happening in Egypt is the product of an absence of democracy.Much of what is happening in the US is the product of a surfeit of democracy.

          4. fredwilson

            Funny and true

    2. Dan Epstein

      I realize you’re playing Devil’s Advocate, and these aren’t necessarily your views, but but you raise some interesting points and questions, Erik.Short-term, tech innovation disrupts industry, makes it leaner and more profitable, often at the expense of jobs (i.e., 1 can now do the work 5 did).Long-term, if we’re not leading in tech innovation, and creating an environment that fosters innovation, we’ll lose jobs at both levels.Looking at the Amazon example, Amazon probably did put a lot of small bookstores out of business, but it woud have been even worse for the economy if Amazon wasn’t an American company (paying taxes, hiring Americans, etc.).Whether or not we should foster innovation is the easy question in my mind–we must. The hard question is how to do it best.The other hard question is what to do for those hurt by innovation (i.e. small bookstore owners).

      1. andyswan

        “even worse for the economy”Oh come on. How many people at UPS owe their dividend, job, or airliner production job to Amazon? How many authors owe the success of their unconnected book to amazon? How many consumer dollars have been saved by buying from amazon?Amazon CREATED WEALTH. Lots of it.

        1. ErikSchwartz

          No question Amazon created additional wealth. But it created that wealth for fewer people than the distribution systems it replaced. I make no value judgements about that. I’m just making the observation.Like I said, I’m playing devil’s advocate here. I’m hoping Fredland makes for an interesting conversation today because I’m totally snowed in.

          1. andyswan

            I’d love to know how you determined that ” it created that wealth for fewerpeople than the distribution systems it replaced”.Do you have the same view of Wal-mart? The combine tractor? The Fordassembly line process?

          2. ErikSchwartz

            Same view of WalMart, the cotton gin, the combine tractor, and the assembly line. How many people did it take to build the pyramids? The great wall of China? This is the way it has always been and this is the way it always will be.One of the things that technology does is obsolete previous methodologies and the industries. IMO this is a good thing.The problem is when the previous ways of doing things are deeply entrenched in society (by custom or government encouragement) the transition for those who make their living in the previous way is very painful.That’s what we’re seeing now.

          3. andyswan

            I hear ya. My grandpa often used the advent of the mechanical tractor(especially plow) to illustrate this point. When it was invented, there wasan outcry that it would put a lot of farmhands out of work.”Some people wanted the mechanical tractor limited and regulated. I wantedto learn how to operate one….and even more….I wanted to OWN one.”Today his son plots fertilization plans on GPS-enabled tractors whilechecking the radar on his iphone.I’ve got very little sympathy for people who stubbornly refused to offertheir clients more than 800 sq feet of hardback best sellers at inflatedprices. 🙂

          4. ErikSchwartz

            You can have my Amazon Prime when you pry it out of my cold dead hands.

          5. Prokofy

            I think it bears review. The system of being able to sell used books to other people through Amazon enables more people to make more money than the old system of booksellers.

        2. Dan Epstein

          Good catch, Andy. The way I wrote my comment makes it sound like I thought Amazon is/was bad for America’s economy. Poor phrasing on my part. Yes, Amazon may put some people out of business, but big picture, Amazon is good for the economy, for the reasons you cited and more.But that’s not really the point I was trying to make, or the point of this thread as I see it. Companies like Amazon are going to get built, whether that’s here or elsewhere. Do we want to be at the forefront of innovation creating these companies? I think we do.Assuming the answer to that question is yes, than the next two questions (which I think are the more interesting questions) are:1) How do you foster innovation?2) What do you do for those put out of business by innovation?

    3. kidmercury

      yes it is good, because those companies that destroy industries destroy costs, which sends prices down, increasing purchasing power for everyone. this new purchasing power enables greater savings, which in turn enables greater investment in new businesses.but wait, there is a twist to the story……government comes in and gives money to the banking industry. benefit from technology cost-savings is more than offset by devaluation of currency. looks like everyone loses.except banking and military industrial complex.

      1. Peter Beddows

        What an amazing revelation!!! I’m teasing; good call Kid. As Tom Peter’s tweeted this morning “Record Wall Street bonuses of $135,000,000,000 in 2010. Thank God things are back to “normal” :-)”

    4. ShanaC

      You know, my mom does development on Amazon and eBay’s apis. It is less about removing labor than refocusing people. Work changes, it doesn’t go away…



    6. JLM

      I agree with your sentiment but would observe that buggy whip factories were screwed even in the 60 days before they closed down. Some things are inevitable and sometimes the new initiative is simply the recognition of the inevitable.

  7. Tom Labus

    This was good news from the current administration.A crucial factor will be getting foreign kids to perceive the US as the place they want to be to start their careers again. The percentage of kids heading home, India & China, has been brutal the last 10 years. Maybe this will help.Recognition, career advancement and wealth will help to if they’re here.

  8. markslater

    Compliance for blogging? are you serious? thats very disturbing.Its hardly a good investment thesis for you to need to pump your companies on your blog to help them succeed. (obviously you dont) I can see you selling that to LP.I openly debate investments with VCs as they announce them. Not so much because i think i am right, more so that hopefully the conversation that results helps evolve my this was a forum for shameless portfolio promotion, you would not have a tenth of the community.

    1. fredwilson

      i’m not kidding. if we get regulated, i will have to do that. which i won’t do. i’d rather leave our firm and invest my own capital before i’ll allow the government to force a compliance officer between me and the community here at AVC. i am serious.also, i don’t think i am pumping our companies. and i certainly don’t ever say that to anyone, including investors in our funds. it’s not how i think about what goes on here

      1. markslater

        that is crazy.and i’ve said – its hardly a part of your thesis to be pumping companies here.

  9. Bill Clark

    I hope they address the restrictions that startups face when trying to raise capital. Only allowing accredited investors to invest or just a few sophisticated investors really limits the amount of startups that can get funded.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s a good issue to put on the list. thank you.

      1. Sotiris Karagiannis

        If you are talking about community aware funding, what about jumping also on the wagon of crowdfunding, making it more interesting , organized and still keeping its primary goal? What do you think about crowdfunding and the VC role in this anyway? Could you please comment on that with honestly ?Best regards from Greece, a place that spurs innovation but too far from the VC ecosystem of Silicon Valley and maybe NYC.

        1. fredwilson

          i am a big fan of crowdfunding and have invested in it in both thenon-profit and for-profit sectors.

      2. jschmeling

        It might be useful to have a model similar to Kiva – if I can lend to anyone in the world for their small business, why can’t I invest with anyone for a component of their small business. Yes, there would have to be mechanisms to clearly articulate ownership which are more complex than a simple loan agreement, but it might allow communities to invest in their local entrepreneurs.

        1. Bill Clark

          I have developed a model similar to Kiva where investors can invest smaller amounts of capital 1-10K online in start-ups that are seeking capital. It is new and we are growing but once we have a large group of investors we should be able to fund start-ups quickly and the investors get equity.

    2. William Carleton

      Slightly contrarian view: there needs to be a standard that the startup community can self police. It’s paternalistic and it’s undemocratic (both bad qualities), but the accredited investor definition has been part of what has kept seed financing “clean” and free of abuse for almost three decades, and also kept state regulators at bay (as part of a system of self-reporting and federal preemption).Historical perspective: in real terms, the net worth and income standards of the accredited investor definition had been going down for almost thirty years, as there never was any upward adjustment, for inflation or otherwise. Now that changed with Dodd-Frank, when the net worth test was amended to require the exclusion of the value of the primary residence. (Could have been worse; angels and the AoA educated the Senate and eliminated a 2.5x increase to the annual income test and the net worth test, and also saved federal preemption.) Could the standards go down further? Rationally, you’d have to say yes, because it hasn’t gotten “bottomed” to where we might see problems (abuse) in startup seed and other angel investing. This is actually an issue that the SEC is listening to people about, as is evidenced, I think, in the report they issued last week on implementing the new net worth rule. They could do more, but the SEC is listening and aware, thanks to the Angel Investor Amendment passed by the Senate to mitigate the impact of what Sen. Dodd originally proposed to do to essentially destroy angel capital.An approach to consider, as an alternative to doing away with the accredited investor definition altogether:*remove the prohibition on “general solicitation” to freely allow entrepreneurs to seek their “natural” backers, wherever they may be*repeal the increase to the net worth standard*recognize that the accredited investor standards should continue to decline and listen to the startup community for signs that it has reached the right level*allow people who are part of the community but who may not be rich to “opt in” to accreditation*address abuses or potential abuses by closing the self-policing features of Reg D to offerings that involve broker dealers, at least at seed and early stages – true angel seed investing does not involve middlepersons taking a cut or “finder’s fee”



      1. fredwilson

        now that i’ve figured out how to read fake grimlock, i am really digging our new community member

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


  10. andyswan

    When you invite the Feds into your bed, don’t be surprised when you end up getting f* ed.

    1. Anonymous123456

      AndyI think the problem is that between the good intentions of the govt getting involved and passing a bill, HUMAN NATURE kicks in. Everyone starts to put their own self interest over the good intentions that they started off the process with. Then the people who have connections get involved with the bureaucracy and sneak in lines into the bill that tilt the scale in their favor. And the people who the bill is really supposed to benefit don’t greatly benefit, while the middle men make out and the rest of the population pays for it through taxes. :)Isn’t that what happened with the bank bail out? 🙂 The money was given to the banks to be lent to businesses, but the banks made sure there were no hard rules in the bill. They took the money, didn’t lend and made their own books look better.And that is the fear with this movement too. 🙂 Someone will benefit from the bills that come out in the area. The key question is who benefits from this and who pays for it. 🙂

      1. andyswan

        Of course. You can either form a system that works within the confines ofhuman nature (laissez capitalism), or you can attempt to create a systemthat restricts, limits and alters human nature (Statism).In the former, you get the unequal distribution of wealth and luxury (thisis pretty much how nature itself works). In the latter, you get the unequaldistribution of misery and regulation. See current healthcare law and the735 exceptions already handed out to friends of the administration.I prefer systems that encourage our natural spirit, rather than those thatwill be corrupted by that same spirit.

  11. Sanford Dickert

    Fred – a couple of thoughts:The Obama Administration has been bringing entrepreneurs and tech leaders to the White House for some time – some of our own have been part of high-level meetings for discussing how to improve innovation over the past two+ years. Sergio from YEO has been spearheading conversations with them for some time.One question I have with the efficiencies of tech entrepreneurship which has been alluded to in other comments – how do we lift up others in our society as the businesses that are improved shed jobs because of the efficiencies? How do we use the improved situations to bring our fellow citizens to newer and better opportunities?I celebrate the energy of entrepreneurship, but also recognize that we should remember that in the detritus of the lost jobs can either come new opportunities or smoldering frustration which causes the conflagration we have seen in the Middle East (or in the recent midterm elections). Chest pumping about building entrepreneurs is one thing, but lifting our overall society is a grander effort that will require more work than a couple of press releases.

    1. JLM

      The problem with focusing on the entrepreneurial class is that you are looking our for or looking for Google rather than the local shoemaker.The funding of great ideas is fairly sound in America today.The funding of great — even small — ideas which are going to create the jobs for the guys on the welfare and unemployment rolls is lacking.This is where the established funding mechanism of something like the SBA is so important.The Administration needs to slap the SBA with GM bailout type money. It needs to increase the loan guaranty to 100% for the top 25% of accreditated SBA lenders.You are not going to diminsh the unemployment rolls by funding high tech — as much as I or you and us like high tech.You have to stop the job drain to China and Mexico while trying to snatch back some of those manufacturing jobs.It’s not sexy but it’s vitally important.

      1. Blsavini


    2. Prokofy

      You don’t, Sanford. And Fred in fact doesn’t want to give jobs to poor unskilled black males in the inner city, because they can’t do the stuff he needs done in his funded start-ups. He wants to bring in Indians or Russians to do the IT work for cheaper, under the guise of “innovation start-up visas”.But it’s ok. You aren’t required to save the world when you engage in capitalism. This new breed of conscience-stricken entrepreneurs like Fred and Craig Newmark and such aren’t really about philanthropy as they are about social-engineering using their money, based on their various lefty wired social theories.Amazon was a great “innovation”. It killed off all the bookstores where we used to get jobs. And so on.

      1. Sanford Dickert

        @profoky: let me suggest that every investor wants to see capitalism “lift all boats”. How else would those people be able to pay for the services that come from the new startups. Ever more optimization without a concern for the people “left behind” creates a greater frustration and potential revolution (as we see in Egypt).

        1. Prokofy

          Jesus said, “The poor ye always have with you.”Those “left behind” aren’t always innocent in that status and it’s not always a clear picture that “society” is supposed to do something about it and not the individual.You would think, to hear you tell it, that you only need to supply more Nasserite Soviet-style socialism, and everything would be fine in Egypt. But it’s the application of those kinds of social policies that in fact cause the plight they are in. As some experts have aptly noted, all their education is geared toward jobs in the civil service, because the concept is one of “creating jobs” and “working for the state” instead of creating opportunities and creating wealth.

          1. fredwilson

            Did Jesus say that or did someone write that and ascribe that to Jesus? DidJesus even exist or was he made up by someone?

          2. Sanford Dickert

            Uh oh. Is there some sort of USENET rule about invoking Jesus?@Profoky – the idea is not necessarily that we should engage in what you are suggesting. I believe that people will – when given the chance – choose to lift themselves up and become better – especially when their family’s welfare and their own are threatened.To use a better analogy – better to teach a man to fish than to simply give him one.I worry about the people left behind because I have seen what happens when people do not see where they can grow to, become – when hope is lost. I spent time in India – both in the cities and in the countries – and watched how hundreds of men would sit listlessly on their front porches, on the sides of streets – waiting for each passing days to transition to the next. Speaking with them – they do not see a way out; a way to become more than another one of many.The human spirit is not one to simply ignore – and not one to simply assuage with bribes or charity. I believe in sustainable business – not just in terms of materials or resources, but in people as well. I believe that with great improvements in productivity and quality of living, we can offer this to others as well. How can we turn our successes outward and contribute – improve the lot of all of us.I believe that the state should not be simply trying to create more cogs for the government bureaucracy – I believe that Startup America is a good effort in teaching people to fish. I simply suggest that more can be done to lift the others as well to avoid extremes like we see around the world – or even closer to home (try taking a ride through the Southern Tier of NY State and see what is happening to the people out there).

  12. Matthew Tucker

    less talk, more H1B reform. government and entrepreneurship are oil and water. stapling a visa to a diploma is an elegant solution and one the feds could never come up with. my reaction to this is the same as yours might be Fred if you saw an entrepreneur model help from the government into their business plan.

    1. Nate Quigley

      I spent some time hanging out with my brother at Stanford last week. He’s a CS PhD candidate. Met a bunch of his lab mates. Was totally energized by all of the brainpower and energy as we walked around to different labs and talked to folks. Chaotic (to the layman’s eye) labs full of trashed prototypes, boards, papers, etc. One night we were walking around about 10 pm and I was amazed at the activity everywhere. Glass meeting rooms full of people standing around whiteboards filled with equations and symbols and sketches. But not the Gary Larson labcoats in a gov’t lab. It was 20-somethings in sweatshirts. And as multi-cultural as any star trek vision of the future has ever been.We’re nuts as a country to do anything but beg all of that brainpower to stay here, invent here and build here. Love the idea of get a visa when you get a diploma. Why can’t we do that?

      1. Matthew Tucker

        that was Fred’s idea at the bottom of the comments somewhere…I love it as well.

      2. Dave Pinsen

        “Love the idea of get a visa when you get a diploma. Why can’t we do that?”Because that rule would be easily gamed. For every Stanford computer science Ph.D., we’d get 20 BAs in leisure studies from East Nowheresville State College.

        1. Aaron Klein

          So let’s discriminate on the basis of the type of diploma you get – and you have to have a 3.5 GPA or higher.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            Uh, at some of the best research universities, there’s no official course work requirement for a Ph.D.! One attitude is that for the basic material, the student should get that on their own. A grad course, then, is just an introduction to research by an expert in the subject of the course. Such a course is mostly for a student who wants to pursue research in that field.Some students already know what research they want to do or have already done it: I did mine independently in my first summer in a field where the department didn’t really have any particular expertise.The main ‘test’ for such research is getting it published in a good journal. So, for a Ph.D., instead of GPA, just ask for a paper in one of the journals on a list of good journals! Or, how about a seed round and within three years a Series A? Or, hires at least two people?

          2. Aaron Klein

            I meant by discipline…and a PhD or Masters in most fields should qualify.

          3. sigmaalgebra

            I was responding only to the 3.5 GPA requirement by saying that at some of the best research universities it doesn’t really apply.

        2. ShanaC

          tie it to Masters, those are rarer. I want my best friend to stay (and I thinks she will, she may be Romanian, but how many PHD candidate female comp sci students do you know?)

        3. Nate Quigley

          this would be politically hard/impossible to do, but would be practical if we could just be a bit elitist (gasp) and only apply it for certain institutions where we knew there was already an effective selection process.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            After the education bubble pops, something like that would be more feasible. The sector needs to shrink considerably, with the weakest schools shutting down.

      3. Dave W Baldwin

        need some cross platforming… push those lab guys to be more attuned to private capital and get the private capital more into the lab. Unfortunately many on the caliber alluded to above know only the route of public money.

        1. Nate Quigley

          wonder what the best way to do this would be? old school dance mixer for CS dept and GSB? get everyone in the gym, every engineer throws a shoe into center court, GSBers scrum and then look for Cinderella?seems hard to institutionalize the Jobs/Woz magic, but would be good to try.

          1. Dave W Baldwin

            Starts in the younger years of school. Kids are smarter than we give credit as Dixon found out recently at Middle School. The ‘brainier’ ones get swooped up into things that do not touch financials and interaction (have a clue what the end run consumer would want).It will take a revolution over here in the states where kids of all I.Q.’s gain opinion/story from those that have trudged. They do get it when you turn it into taking advantage of their single years where they can do the more risky, matched with social contacts and not burning bridges.Otherwise, get ’em drunk…..

  13. Neil Braithwaite

    No one needs to play devil’s advocate here; there are numerous examples that should lead anyone who knows business and history to conclude that the government, and especially the “White House,” putting their “helping-hands” on the private sector (i.e. capitalism) is a bad idea.For example: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Community Reinvestment Act (CRE)I’m not against anyone in government giving advice regarding job creation, but let’s keep it on the advisory level and let capitalism work as it should.I’m reading a great new book – very informative regarding the cause of our economic melt down.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s the “doing just fine, thank you” in my blog postthose areas that don’t need help should be left alonethose that do need help should not

      1. andyswan

        Seems the areas that need the most help are the ones that government is already most involved in, no? Healthcare, housing, drugs….

        1. Morgan Warstler

          Exactly, it seems like everywhere they are, we say “doing just fine, thank you.”

        2. kidmercury

          andy, obviously you are unfamiliar with government logic. government logic is that whenever there is a problem, the way to solve that problem is with more of the problem. got a debt problem? just create more debt! got a high prices problem? just raise prices! got a big government problem? just make government bigger!please spend some more time in public school so you can re-acquaint yourself with government logic.

          1. andyswan

            LOL….you know, the funny thing is I spent 5 minutes in a public schoollast weekend. It was a tour for incoming kindergarteners.. We thought we’dgive it a shot, you know…since we’re already paying for it and everything.Supposedly one of the 3 best elementary schools in Louisville…..and holycrap what a debacle. Teachers dressed like slobs, students even worse. Apicture of a sad polar bear on a melting piece of ice. 28 kids in a classwith at least half paying absolutely no attention.Such a vast difference between that and the two private schools we’reconsidering it’s unbelievable. And something tells me the public one isspending more than the $4500/head that the private ones want from us.It was depressing. Like walking into the intersection of a governmentday-care and a government jobs program. A vote-factory, if you will.

          2. Anonymous123456

            BTW Andy & Kid, can we start a count down to the # of days before Aneesh Chopra the CTO of the US govt will leave the White House and be hired by a VC firm. Then Obama will come out and say “its only fair that Aneesh goes out and makes some money considering that he worked long hours at a low paying job just like I said about Robert Gibbs” :)Maybe we can also start speculating on which VC firm will recruit Aneesh to work at their liaison to the Govt of the United States. :)I thought it was a funny thought, but the sad part it is there is a high chance this is going to happen.

          3. fredwilson

            it won’t be USVKP tends to hire like this (Gore, Powell)

          4. Anonymous123456

            I believe that it wont be USV.But there is a good chance that he will go to a VC firm or one of the top 3/4 tech companies to work on govt relations.

          5. kidmercury

            plus bubbles doerr is on soetoro’s board of economic advisors where he is obviously doing a great job

          6. JLM

            “it won’t be USV”Haha, that’s pretty damn funny! Good for you. That just struck my funny bone.

          7. Aaron Klein

            Here in California, the public kindergarten gets $8300 per student, per year.Meanwhile, over at the community college where we train the workforce, our funding is only $5800 per student, per year.

          8. Tereza

            you know…odd observation that i’m processing right now, but (i think you know that) we just made a switch from private to public so i’m seeing differences at a very detailed level between the two.context: a top suburban CT private school (natl award-winning) vs. a very well-funded public one with hyper-engaged parents.i like them each for very different reasons. the kids get different things out of each.major difference in ratio (7:1 vs. 22:1)the public school teacher is much more seasoned. the teachers are similarly credentialed (MAs from top education programs in the country).the 7:1 has a bunch of younger teachers who revolve in and out (they don’t get paid much). there is a lot of “YAY! You did it!” a bit of spoon feeding. the kids build confidence!the 22:1 has more rules and structures and tests. the kids need to become independent faster. they need to tune in + listen. otherwise they do things like miss the bus (which my daughter did once — she cried, was embarrassed, and guess what, she never missed the bus again! LOL)the ‘wrapper’ around the public school is sloppier. the classrooms look messier, and yes, people (students + teachers) look a bit more disheveled. when i call the public school the receptionist sounds like fran drescher. when i call the private school the voice is stepford….the external optics are flawless.the first difference i observed between the kids was in our town summer camp when i noticed the public school kids were markedly more independent. a 6-yr-old could collect their stuff from the pool area, go change, and get in line to move to the next place. the private kids (my daughter included) couldn’t leave the pool area without someone giving them individual instruction.but what truly shocked me was in the parent/teacher conferences. at the private, my daughter was ‘wonderful! so advanced! we are so glad to have her here! and we were told was at the top of her class’ and indeed, i was paying $26k tuition for the public, she’s in the top decile. the teacher, despite having 21 other kids, was very aware and articulate about my daughter’s strengths. then she gets very explicit about areas where my daughter was not pushing herself hard enough. surprising, because from the outside looking in, i would not have imagined it. but i look at her work and indeed she is being pushed pretty hard.i think because the public school has to take everyone, they’re not in sales mode so they cut to the chase about where your kids is and where they need to go. there is no motivation to sell to you because they’re getting your tax dollars anyway.find some teachers who’ve worked at both schools your looking at. that’s the needle in the haystack that will give you your answer on what’s *really* happening beneath the surface. i found 2 such teachers and they told me, definitely absolutely use our particular public school as it is apparently best-in-class in building skills for children at the top level.this may not be the same where you live andy — do look at ‘what lies beneath’ by finding the teachers who’ve been on both sides. they’re the only ones who really know.second best are parents who’ve been on both sides, but be skeptical because they’re always bought in to where they landed, by definition.

          9. andyswan

            Great points and I completely agree. I’m the product of a public schooleducation and a public school teacher mom. I’d very much prefer to go thatroute, if the competence is there.Louisville public schools are a disgrace. Their number one objective(literally, not figuratively) is “diversity”…and not diversity of thought,but skin color. So we’re looking at the what I’m guessing is the closestthing we have to your 22:1 winner: A catholic school with 20+ in the classbut at least the filter of teachers and parents that are taking a bit of ahit to be there.It’s tough. But at the end of the day, I’m confident that no matter whereMY kids go to school, they’ll win. Not because of the school or theteacher, but because of mom and dad. It’s the kids born without thisadvantage that I think about so much, and who are getting the mostdisservice out of “the system”.

          10. Satish Mummareddy

            Agree 100% with: ‘But at the end of the day, I’m confident that no matter where MY kids go to school, they’ll win. Not because of the school or the teacher, but because of mom and dad.”

          11. Tereza

            cream rises to the top. (usually)my parents were immigrants but it was always — not will you go to college? but — you damn well get into a kickass college because we are dedicating our lives to you doing that. (maybe not “tiger mother” pressure but not so far off)on the other side, peers have a massive influence, possibly more than the parents (esp at a certain age). research shows — broadly speaking — the private school kids are a bit more used to being paid attention to, while the public school kids have a little more hustle, because they have to compete to get attention.either can be a good thing. it depends.right now, in my life, i’m kinda into first providing that basis of confidence and core skill (via private preschool) and then switching over to infusing them with hustle (via public). they need to learn how to day i’ll drop dead and won’t be able to externally give them their hustle so they are survivors and winners. my job #1 is to create that inside them for when i’m not around.

          12. andyswan

            Love it!

          13. ShanaC

            I want to send my non-existant kid to your public school

          14. sigmaalgebra

            Tereza, HOW do you do that? One wife I saw, with a husband an excellent entrepreneur, had one child, gained 150 pounds, and devoted herself to chocolates. Another, with also a good entrepreneur husband, had one child, a second by accident, and then devoted herself to beer and cigarettes. A third, right, good entrepreneur husband who had to travel to his customers at production facilities, was really good friends with Jack Daniels and Jim Beam and passed out surrounded by empties whenever he got home.I could list about a dozen more.Uh, why don’t you, like the women I listed, just wake up some morning and say, “Today I’m going to do something new. I’m going to destroy my home, family, marriage, and family finances and see how much I can hurt my husband and children.”? Gee, such deliberate destruction was a big surprise to me, and I long had a tough time seeing the advantages. And now you are complicating the picture by being productive, rational, effective, insightful, etc.!

          15. Tereza

            sorry to cloud your vision, my friend! i’ll restrain myself next time.:-)

          16. sigmaalgebra

            You’re also being a terrific mother, e.g., not just passing the kids off to the schools. Don’t “restrain” yourself on that!

          17. JLM

            Siggie, you need to start hanging out w/ a different crowd.

          18. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          19. Tereza

            competitive principles are being applied most effectively when you have a population of people who know each other and a number of them have a shot at winning so they fight hard. and then they’ll be re-matching in a subsequent in sports, a great game is when a large number of people fight hard for the prize. a poorly designed game is when people self-select out of it before it happens because they couldn’t compete. they only show up if they think they have a chance.

          20. Nate Quigley

            really helpful comment. we’ve got kids across the spectrum: public, private and home school. we’ve come to think that on a kid by kid basis, “it just depends”.only macro policy thing I can think of out of this is to give parents lots of degrees of freedom to figure out what works for their kids. and support policies that help and strengthen parents and families. and how to do that? wow, don’t know.

          21. Tereza

            i have to agree — isn’t it amazing how different each kid is? i have friends who had an awful time in a private and then went public and flourished. and ones who were drowned out in public and found their voice in private. and obviously every single school and teacher is thing that scares me about an expensive private school is that after writing such a huge check you can have the false sense of security that it’s “taken care of”, or as my friend says, ‘add water and stir’.there are things that no amount of money can’t buy and at the top of your list is paying attention to what’s going on with each of your kids.

          22. Nate Quigley

            that’s it. agree with and believe in the value of “the village”, but nothing can replace family. the best villages will strengthen and support family efforts, not try to subsume or replace.and also – I think Startup Mom is higher degree of difficulty than 7 kids! I salute you!

          23. Tereza

            OMG you have 7 kids???!!!!Well, then, i defer to you, grasshopper!

          24. Dave Pinsen

            “i think because the public school has to take everyone, they’re not in sales mode so they cut to the chase about where your kids is and where they need to go. there is no motivation to sell to you because they’re getting your tax dollars anyway.”That’s the same reason why some state universities grade harder than private schools. Which can be a shock to the occasional transfer student from a private college.

          25. Tereza

            hahaha probably true. my husband put himself thru william + mary (in VA)….they were notoriously hard graders.and for MBA, he went to carnegie mellon and i to wharton. we’d say, the hardest thing about wharton is getting in; the hardest thing about CMU is getting out! (not that it’s private, but they have a strong ethos about making certain their degree means something)

          26. Dave W Baldwin

            Excellent reply. Since it comes down to realities of the players involved (parents, kids, teachers) developing tools allowing the teachers to accomplish more will win.Being a Tiger Mom is not bad. Try doing something with teenagers who have parents telling them school is a waste and they (school) are just lying to you. It is all a matter of being the wise tiger and knowing how to get more with less.

          27. Morgan Warstler

            It’s much worse, if you add in the capitalization costs, the public school system is 30%+ higher.

          28. Dave W Baldwin

            Some of this is coming from above Andy. Over here in Cape Girardeau, we have the same personal appearance type of issue. Then you find out the new age of instructer at the University where it is very informal. So that is probably where it comes from.On the other side, you’d love seeing the appearance of some of the poorer kids who have listened to advice regarding real world…coming to school wearing a tie. That won’t make them a genious, but as they understand, it establishes some respect.Yes the polar bear pisses you off….but the damage has already been accomplished via that stupid commercial from a couple of years back.

        3. Dave Pinsen

          Interesting how the more money government spends on making something affordable, the more expensive it often gets (e.g., education).

          1. JLM

            Brilliantly played!

          2. Dave Pinsen

            Thanks, Jeff. I’ll be here all week.

      2. Neil Braithwaite

        Give Gov’t a foot in the door and it probably won’t be long before your “doing just fine” is not doing so well.And do you really expect the well intended Gov’t to leave your “doing just fine” alone?Gov’t “good intentions” are a forerunner to unintended consequences, and unintended consequences lead to more Gov’t good intentions.

        1. fredwilson

          this is a religious debate at the end of the daythere are those who want less governmentthere are those who want moreand there are those in betweeni am in the latter camp

          1. kidmercury

            there are also those who don’t care if government is big or small, just that it is responsible and competent, and that those who want bigger government do the work to ensure it is responsible.

          2. JLM

            “Competent government” — what are you some kind of crazy lunatic?Next thing you will be telling me 9-11 was an inside job!Truly, what is the most competent government function you know of or have ever dealt with?

          3. kidmercury

            In all honesty, i would say the DMV has been my most pleasant govtexperience- – which tells you just how bad govt is at doing anything, if thehorror that is the DMV can top the list.

    2. ShanaC

      I’m actually worried about what you mention quite a lot. Apparently they want to use bonds in an investment company backed essentially by the US government.I could totally see 20 years from now this turning into another Perfect Economic Storm…businesses have inherent risks to them

  14. Glen Hellman

    Couldn’t agree with you more about focusing on what is not working. Productivity growth from IT fueled our economic growth for the last 20 years. Advances in energy tech could provide the kind of net productivity gains that would not only reduce our dependence on foreign sources, squeeze funding from those that seek our destruction, save our enviornment and produce the kind of net gains in energy productivity that could fuel the economy for the next 20 years.

  15. John Frankel

    America is a great country (with a poor PR agency!) and it is initiatives like StartUp America and what I see NYC doing that reinforces its greatness.

    1. Tereza

      funny you say that, i’ve always been rather jealous of how much better british municipal/govt PR is far superior to ours. edgier, funnier, engaging. i lean forward wanting to hear what they’ll be coming up with.american public PR is a snoozer, takes itself so seriously.but hey, what do i know. i thought ricky gervais at the golden globes was side splitting.

      1. RichardF

        ….they won’t be coming up with very much for a long time Tereza because with the cuts that are currently happening here in the UK there will be nobody left to do it.Having said that the British entertainment industry is bound to push out some cracking comedy now because it always does when the economy here is depressed. We have to have something to cheer us up!

        1. Peter Beddows

          See what I was saying in my comment to Tereza: Your comment exactly makes my point; Thank you Richard

      2. Peter Beddows

        When you grow up in the UK, with the weather we have there and the history we have garnered as a nation that was once the center of an empire, you salve your woes by constant development of dry humour.Hence we have the likes of John Cleeses, Rick Gervais, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, The Goons (old steam radio show) etc., to help keep us sane, not to mention also encouraging us to develop an urge to end up living in San Diego!! oy!All joking aside, I think the British heritage encourages one to see the folly of taking everything so seriously because, while it may be cloudy, even raining today, tomorrow my have at least a little sunshine and people thus respond more to “the lightness of being” approach than they ever do to the opposite.

  16. reece

    Agree with your sentiment here that overall it is GREAT that government organizations are at least listening and now showing effort towards working with us.Mistakes will be made, sure, but at the end of the day this is a great move.Now as for that “regulating VC blogs” idea… seriously?Don’t they realize that your blog is largely powered by the community… ugh. [Note: I’ve actually pointed this out to the NYCEDC specifically – that they need to listen to ideas from the “bottom” up, not just the “top” down.]

  17. Rick Bullotta

    Fred, a few critical issues that the federal government needs to act on to create an optimal climate for innovation in “startup america” include:- Patent reform : this is a MUST FIX issue. The ridiculous patents that have been granted and the associated litigation costs/implications are a tax and inhibitor to many types of innovations. I’m not suggestion abandoning patents, but bring some sensibility to them- Help facilitate IP transfer : Whether from government-funded labs and research facilities or state and federally funded universities, there needs to be a better process for “open sourcing” the IP from these research activities so that free flowing innovation can occur- Fix a variety of double taxation issues, most notably the double-dip that occurs in asset purchases, which are a perfectly legitimate form of exit or partial exit but at present are far too painful for the seller in terms of taxes- Hold people and organizations accountable for results if they are receiving federal funding. Nothing too onerous, but full transparency is essential to prevent “startup america” from becoming another source of pork projectsRick

    1. fredwilson

      i agree with all of these, particularly the patent issue

    2. William Carleton

      Ditto with Fred, and esp. the tax on asset purchase exits.

    3. Dave W Baldwin

      Problem is how many pork projects would need to be created just to get a vote on the important items you list?

  18. Morgan Warstler

    “The latest ADP report showed large businesses with 500 employees or more hired 11,000 new employees, and medium-size businesses added 79,000 workers in January and small businesses that employ fewer than 50 workers added 97,000 new workers.”…This gets to one of my main bugaboos.Why don’t we let SMB owners freely move profits from one venture to another without counting it as general income?If an investor can sell a building, and reinvest the profits in another building without paying any capital gains, why aren’t we using the tax code to encourage the 2% of SMB owners that take in 50% of the SMB revenue to take small taxable salaries and reinvest tax free in other small businesses?

    1. JLM

      Really, capital invested in enterprises which actually create jobs — which of course we all know is the #1 priority of this administration and our President — should pay NO capital gains taxes.If you want to encourage something, you have to provide an incentive. That is what public policy is — a series of incentives, a series of penalties and a set of rules to be able to tell the difference.If you want to create jobs, then you will have to get comfortable that someone is going to make a buck in the process.

      1. Morgan Warstler

        We know that all the new job growth comes from “newcos” that get spawned out of the pool of top SMBs. It’s like college ball, we’re not sure which of these guys are going to go pro, but we know for sure 99.9% are in this pool.And yet we do not raise up and treat that pool like the most protected class of investors.I think the other way of arguing it also is that its the only way to combat the regulatory capture that Fortune 1000 guys shrug off but crushes the SMB market.

        1. JLM

          I agree more with you that you do with yourself.

  19. sigmaalgebra

    Since we are playing devil’s advocate here, I’ll chip in:As usual for tricky situations, one approach is just to move to ‘the limit’ and see what it is. The reason is, commonly the limiting situation is much simpler than the present.So, the application is, between now and the limiting situation, on nearly any measure we care about, we will be ‘interpolating’ between what we have now and the limit.So, here, I am pleased to announce the ABC Future Technologies model FT-701 robot, with first deliveries scheduled for January, 2020.The projected price will be $1000 each.What can the robot do? Anything a human can do except faster and better. Period.So, for all businesses, fire all your humans, buy as many FT-701 robots as you need, and rake in the profits!So, make cars, houses, yachts, airplanes, for maybe only 10% of the costs now. Make essentially anything any human could want!Just think of the possibilities!

    1. ErikSchwartz

      I assume the FT-701 factory will exclusively employ FT-701 robots in its labor force.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Starting in February, 2020, of course!

        1. Dave Pinsen

          The problem will be when the FT-701s turn against us.

          1. RichardF

            that’s not a problem Dave, you just need to call out Will Smith

          2. sigmaalgebra

            Uh, which “Dave” is that? I mean, Pinsen or the one from ‘2001’?

          3. Dave Pinsen

            Just watch out for all Daves, to be on the safe side.

          4. sigmaalgebra

            SO slow on the uptake here! Uh, humans keep their hands tightly on the power cords!

    2. Morgan Warstler

      Well the cost of living goes down, things cost less to produce, which puts GDP measurement as an important metric to the test.This also reduces the added costs of providing a minimum safety net. The decrease in the size of entitlement spending will be welcome relief.Healthcare just got SUPER cheap with those robot doctors sticking you with needles and dispensing pills.The extra capital formation, from having a far smaller grocery bill, is deployed into niche service creation… having a woman massage your back just feels better than Cherry 3000, ya know? Sitting in barber shop getting your face shaved becomes more valuable. There’s a lot more private child instruction. Personal chefs for the neighborhood.The idea of handmade takes on and increase in value, which makes Etsy Fred’s smartest investment, bar none.The risk / rewards of innovating in energy production increase – unless in your magical kingdom, energy is created by free robots as well.At the high end, we have folks specializing in talking to trauma victims after they are pulled out freeze comas – which is how robot ambulances solve for emergency pick ups.We spend more money investigating, researching, and being creative – everyone needs what 1000 true fans good for $25 a year? Or 25 good customers good for $1000 per year?

      1. sigmaalgebra

        As I try to contribute to this future, I want to guess at what some of the effects might be. Uh, my work is mostly aimed at improving lives. I’ll create some jobs directly and likely indirectly. But indirectly I will also destroy some jobs. The jobs I create directly will be better than the ones I destroy, but for the indirect effects I don’t know if the new jobs will be better or worse.Uh, I should revise and say that of course the robots will be able to do anything except NSFW!My guess is that we tax the robots and use the money to provide everyone a basic stipend.Then we might try to guess effects at the limit and on the way to the limit on what humans do with their time and on happiness, marriage, population growth, illegal drug usage, crime, privacy, government tyranny, globalization, foreign relations, war, economic stability, political differences and stability, land ownership, city sizes, social status, variety of economic activity, creativity, the environment, pure research, space exploration, etc.Uh, it used to be that a good husband candidate had a lot of cows, or was it sheep, horses? Well to get a wife he will have to offer her father some number of robots? :-)!I’m guessing that we may have to start that tax-stipend idea before 2020.

        1. Morgan Warstler

          No, we want everyone working, and we attach any stipend after the fact.My suggestion would be that we auction everyone’s available labor off to the highest bidder in a Ebay / Paypal model, like this:…And I suggest we start now, so we can end unemployment by the end of year.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            First I’ve heard of that. Cute.As I understand it, we fumbled and fooled around from 1929 on doing too little to get people back to work but when people started shooting at us had at least two jobs for everyone within a few months. So, if we want to put people to work, then we can.Broadly we have not known what to do about unemployment. My post about the robots was mostly to get us to start thinking about what we are going to have to do as such robots come closer and closer. Then with the solutions in mind we can get started now.

    3. Dave W Baldwin

      Simple truth is that is not too far off. Think of medical and its continous turnover problem…how low would you need to go with the cost of the robot where it would be better for the PA in the hospital compared to the cost of recruitment, hiring, training and watch them go on maternity leave?That is why taking communication to the next level is so important… though it doesn’t sound connected, it is.

  20. Kyle Pearson

    Would like to point out that Arizona State University is part of Tech Stars network and one of, if not the only, universities to be in partnership with this new initiative. Devils

    1. Borisfowler

      As an ASU student involved in entrepreneurship, I would like to commend ASU for making entrepreneurship a priority and available to the students.Entrepreneurship and education have so much in common.

    2. PhilipSugar

      Don’t get me wrong, I like seeing the government support start-ups, but along with JLM I don’t know they couldn’t get it done with the tax code not grants.There is a very successful ASU company that last year hired 5 ASU PhD’s Frankly ASU was not helpful in the least.You are looking at the guy that funded it.If you want to help me out get off my back with taxes, so I have more money to put to work.

      1. Kyle Pearson

        Oh I completely agree with you re:tax code and gov getting involved in business.I’m just happy to see my university getting some recognition other than a party school

        1. PhilipSugar

          Send me a note and I’ll buy you a beer at Four Peaks this month.philipsugar on the google

      2. MikeSchinkel

        Not everyone with money puts it to work in the way you do.I’ve long thought that taxes should recognize how people use their money; do they buy real estate investment property, pay for country club memberships, vacation in the south of France, buy a Bugatti Veyron, or do they invest time and money in real viable startups that add new jobs and create new markets?The latter is the only one who should get a tax break, IMO.

  21. BillMcNeely

    My name is Bill McNeely and I am a Co-Founder of Hello I’m Logistics a professional social network for military vets looking for employment.I think Startup America is great idea but seems to be focused on younger, college educated, tech focused individuals.However I have seen no attempt to use this program to reach out to recently separated veterans who have the capability to start a business. Military veterans have a long track record of project management, soft skills and access to a government guaranteed loan up to $125K.Transitioning Veterans bring the following to the game:Have Proven Leadership: Many vets have led and managed groups of people ranging in size from 13-150 before the age of 28. I will take that over the Ivy League educated, management consultant who can make a mean PowerPoint deck but can’t decide between a Tall and Grande Mocha at StarbucksAre Professional: We will use adult language and decent attire when presenting to investors.Are Responsible: Military personnel know how to make decisions and take responsibility to meet a deadline. If the deadline can’t be met you are informed and a alternate course of action is proposed. A sense of urgency is always apparent.Possess Mission Critical Skills: Fulfilling tasks is mandatory. Military personnel know how to face projects head-on. The hard parts are taken on first.Are Calm Under Pressure: A military vet knows how to handle stress, both off and on the job.Demonstrate Can Do Attitude: Military vets always project a positive attitude. They assume any task can be done and will move mountains to make it happen.Possess A Global Perspective: If a veteran has been the military longer than 12 months than chances are that individual has had to interact with a culture people different than their own. Most Americans have not had this opportunity and even the superstars at Fortune 500 firms fail at overseas assignments My recent experience with a Dallas based seed fund accelerator was mostly positive. After pitching at Dallas Startup Weekend in November, we were invited for an initial pitch to the Director of the seed fund accelerator. After this screening were encouraged to apply for the spring class of the program. In between we made a pivot which allowed us to be selected as a semi finalist and present on Quick Pitch Day. But then we were cut fairly quickly with only vague feedback received. (Too early and not a big enough market we were told)I think bringing us on for the three months would have made sense. Hello I’m could have taken a loan or used our GI Bill benefits (If a Masters Certificate was offered with a university in town) to work on the idea while learning from our peers and mentors (code for investors) with no financial risk to the program.Vets are not asking for hand outs we just need real tangible assistance in the form of a download of knowledge. We will take care of the rest.

    1. Peter Beddows

      JLM, as a sometime career military man and now CEO of business and frequent responder to Fred’s posts, has chimed in on the merits of ex-service people on several previous occasions.In many ways, many of the readers of this blog are probably quite well aware of the many valuable attributes that vets like yourself bring with them into civilian life. I also have a son who is a marine vet which brings this whole issue quite close to home.I agree with JLM and with you Bill. Certainly veterans deserve a much better thank you than they do get now for all they have delivered on behalf of the rest of us

      1. BillMcNeely

        Peter,Thank you for your support.Check out the vet owned business by Chris Fagan at Mobestream Media . He was a member of Tech Wildcatters first class last year. He just raised over $1.5 M

    2. JLM

      The country continues to be skeptical about the military and is fundamentally biased against the military including the veterans. Many folks are frankly ashamed that they did not do more.I recall with great clarity reading Bill Clinton’s letter to the U of Ark ROTC unit as to why he was not going to make good on his ROTC commitment which saved his ass from the draft.He should have just said: I am a pussy. I know it. And now you know it.I say this having been educated at a trade school (VMI) and having been a Regular myself and the son of a Mom and Dad who served. My father served for a whole career and a half.The big secret is that the military is whole lot of fun — like playing college football or being in a secret society. Not the whole military but parts of it.When you walk into an “O” club and you have 3-4 rows of ribbons, a CIB, jump wings and a Ranger tab, you are in a pretty damn select club. You and everybody else who can read your ribbons knows where you have been and what you done.Having said that the military is quite diverse and complex and the capabilities of a junior officer who served in the Adjutant General Corps is different than an academy grad with an MBA who ran a Combat Engineer Company and who served in combat.I have had great luck hiring academy grads, company grade officers with combat experience and who have MBAs. This is the best supply of talent in 40 years.They are exquisitely screened to get into the academy. They are tested in combat. They have had superb leadership experience as company commanders — the equivalent of being a feudal Chinese warlord. They are calm, cool and collected when the feces hits the fan and they have that MBA.The challenge for many civilians is that they don’t know how to read the military experience of their candidates. The Medical Service Corps is not the same as the Corps of Engineers.

      1. BillMcNeely

        JLM,You make some great points.Fortune Magazine ran a great article last March that outlines why Junior Military Officers make great hires.As a 1LT (now former CPT) leaving the Active Army a lot of sins (low GPA, no name school) were forgiven based on my performance and field (logistics) in the Army.I would like to think we can have the impact that our Grandfathers had after WWII.So don’t

        1. JLM

          Every trade school grad and every ROTC grad are equal at year 4. This is why they stopped giving the trade school grads Regular commissions.

    3. Tereza

      Bill do you know Elad Yoran?

      1. BillMcNeely

        Ma’amI was not but I am now. He seems to be pretty impressive.Thank you for the lead.Bill

        1. Tereza

          Bill, he is a longtime friend. Please message me directly if you’d like an introduction. tnemessanyi at gmail dot com.And, truly, thank you for your service to our country.Years ago I was part of a very large consulting firm. We had a sub-group there, specializing in turnarounds and business process re-engineering. They were the best at what they did, anywhere. I had the great experience of parachuting in as their “crazy marketing person” a few times. What an excellent experience.

  22. paramendra

    “… that my blog posts would have to be signed off on a compliance officer before they go public….”That would be the end of AVC.

  23. seigenblues

    Fred-Could you expand on why energy entrepreneurship isn’t working? I have only a dataset of one, but it’s one great datapoint :)I don’t think successful “energy entrepreneurs” will fit some of the usual investment narratives. E.g., we’re cash flow positive, doing great, but we don’t have a “portal” for our customers. We collect a ton of data, but it’s from sensors in the field, not interactions on our website. We have more plumbers than programmers.The three fields you identified (health care, energy, community), are all going to require “hybrid” startups, who do both bits & atoms. Those niches may not have (or need!) the same kind of web presence we’re used to seeing in the tech community, and will present a very different surface area to VC’s not actively looking at them.As such, they’re going to need drastically different kinds of help: your barriers to entry for health care startups vs. energy startups are similar only in bureaucracy :)Anyway, not very good at keeping up on comment threads but did want to put in our data

    1. JLM

      The real problem with energy today is the brain dead total disregard for the benefits of nuclear while simultaneously championing wind, solar and geothermal which simply do not work yet.

      1. fredwilson


      2. Dave Pinsen

        Geothermal is limited obviously by geography, but seems to make a lot more sense than the other two. For one thing, its exploration can piggy back on oil exploration (looking for heat in dry holes). For another, unlike wind & solar, it’s always on, so you don’ t need to pair it with a natural gas-powered generator.

        1. Peter Beddows

          I’m a firm believer in the potential for Nuclear Power though I also agree about geothermal potential.Nuclear engineering has come a very long way from the time of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.Back in the UK at a fairly early stage in my career, I was responsible for specifying and installing instrumentation on the “boiler” systems of 4 x 650MW generators. 2 at Hinckley Point in Somerset and 2 at Hunterston, Scotland close to Glasgow. Don’t know now what their track record has been or if they are still operational but I do not recall ever hearing of any problems.I came to California, after first arriving on the East Coast to start up a new business there, to turn around the development and production of multiple fast acting high power power conversion systems for the magnetic containment systems to be used in the TOKOMAC and Mirror fusion DOE projects – Princeton and Livermore respectively. Though both projects ultimately got terminated because funding was cut off, Fusion power will undoubtedly some day become a reality – the beauty of Fusion (joining of atoms) versus Fision (splitting of atoms) being that it is easy to terminate Fusion: That process does not pose the risk of running away that Fision reactions do.One way or the other, while all such Capital Equipment projects require relatively huge capital investment, the potential for moving away from Fossil fuels exists if we just put our minds and investment into doing the research that is the foundation of all innovation.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Nuclear makes perfect sense. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to get the bulk of our electricity needs from it, as France does. Then we could export more of our coal, which would help reduce our trade deficit.

          2. Peter Beddows

            We succeeded in making some pretty good “French Fries”, how hard can it be to beat the French in Nuclear Power engineering? {grin}Aside from joking, I completely agree with you Dave.

    2. fredwilson

      i am no expert, but i am of the impression that these sectors need more capital

      1. Peter Beddows

        Exactly so Fred: Any such development requires significant capital outlay not only to cover the fundamental process development and engineering costs but also for the prototyping, safety proofing and final manufacturing and production costs.However, it is only in the area of Nuclear power plant development that we have, perhaps any significant new “findings” to discover because our knowledge of turbines has continued to rapidly grow since there has been an ever open door for better turbine technology and application whereas the public is reactively and ignorantly risk averse to anything that has the name “Nuclear” in it.So most of the research and development catch-up necessary for us to build more safer and better nuclear power stations lies within the realm of advancing nuclear engineering which is neither simple nor cheap. On the other hand, once a design has been proven, it can be replicated relatively easily. Also, we now have the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland that could facilitate the nuclear part of this engineering activity.My thoughts on this issue are based upon the experiences I gained from working with research Linear Accelerator design and production as well as the experiences related in my response to David Pinsen and JLM above. I have pictures of the TOKAMAC power systems and schematic and of a Linear Accelerator on my web site if curious. Not sure what has happened to my photos of Hunterston and Hinckley Point power stations.

  24. Gustaf Rosell

    I truly think you should be proud of your president and companies that stand behind this initiative. There are definitely things that can be improved along the lines Fred and other are discussing here. But I am SO impressed that something is happening, and so fast. First, it sounded like the SOTU speech was mostly words, but then this came.In my country, Sweden, the early stage VCs are almost gone and there is a total mess of government funds, loans and activities, a lot of it politically oriented towards rural areas and the car industry. Politicians are talking about an innovation strategy and taking a grip of the situation but absolutely nothing is happening. It is so immensely frustrating. So far, the largest companies that are keeping Sweden afloat, have not yet really helped in this situation either.Well, well. Need to think of a coup of some sort….

  25. Kirk

    While healthcare, energy, and community entrepreneurship may not be as successful as tech entrepreneurship, this does not mean that they should be neglected. Can it be that tech entrepreneurship is in a bubble craze, and that the success rates in the other entrepreneurship categories are indicative of what tech entrepreneurship will be post-bubble burst?

    1. fredwilson

      hard to say but it is possible

  26. Prokofy

    I totally disagree. It’s largely about big business, not small business, and more self-interested Silicon Valley stuff:…It’s big IT in disguise again, and it’s funny of you to also invoke this myth of the little start up arrayed against the big evil government or the big evil corporate world — when the best these little start-ups of yours can hope for, Fred, and what YOU as a VC can hope for, is that your “liquidity event” will come when big IT buys out your little start-up, and folds it into its big maw. That’s all. Please show me an example that doesn’t work that way.What is the future of FourSquare or BeHereNow or whatever your ventures are? Being bought out by one of these big companies. Google, Yahoo, Sony, whatever. It’s not like they have a future ahead of them of an IP, and a 20-50 year life span creating jobs and value and community as small or medium business.As for your own critique, in fact, we’re almost on the same page here, as I point out in my blog that this program focuses on more entrepreneurs, i.e. IT widgeteering, and not on health or education (except with IT solutions for that which are usually cult-based too).However, as you know, we don’t agree on the formulas for fixing education, as you want to revive all that Ivan Ilich commie stuff and I don’t.BTW, I find it hugely hard to believe that regulating VCs would involve compliance offers signing off on blog posts. They might watch better for obvious and blatant conflicts of interest, though…

    1. fredwilson

      only three of our almost 40 companies have been sold to “big IT guys”that didn’t work out too well for themit’s not a great way to exit for the service, the founders, or the investors

  27. baba12

    I wonder if Mr.Wilson thinks about the sort of comments he is going to elicit from the readers of the blog and then decides on how best to present his ideas.After reading these comments, I just decided I would observe more than write.As my dad always said make sure that every word you say is a pearl, so far I seem to be only making artificial pearls.For the country there are no easy solutions, but as long as you have Wall street having to follow the rules of socialism while everyone else has to follow the rules of capitalism things will tend to be painted with water soluble paints, waiting for the next rain to wash it away.

    1. fredwilson

      nope, but i always learn from these threadswriting more allows me to observe more

  28. Suzanne Lainson

    “One thing that jumps out to me is the focus on what is working (tech entrepreneurship) and the lack of focus on what is not working (health care entrepreneurship, energy enetrepreneurship, community entrepreneurship). I’ll make sure they hear that criticism, from me and from others.”Thank you for saying this. That’s my biggest concern about startup investments. Often they give us more of the same or, at best, variations of the same. People don’t want to invest in what they don’t know, so sometimes we lack significant progress in areas that need to be dealt with, but which are hard and/or unfamiliar.

  29. Sharon Vosmek

    I was pleased to see this post the other day, but am even more pleased today to see the ensuing conversations. I will add another topic to the mix, as the organization I represent is also a member of Startup America – Astia. One simple fact led us to make our commitment to the Initiative – if women had the same access to capital as their male counterparts, we would see 6 million jobs added to the US economy in the next 5 years; 2 million of them in year one alone. There is our jobs recovery in an easy opportunity. I say easy because I don’t believe there is a glass ceiling keeping women out – I think it is as simple as building the networks across gender (some 95-98% of VCs are men) that will lead to investment in women entrepreneurs.Here are my thoughts in a sound biteNo 1. In our society, men and women are still by-and-large in separate business networks. And no. 2, 95% of VCs and 85% of Angels are men. How this plays out is as follows. VC and Angel investment relies heavily on trusted business relationships – often for early stage investors, the only risk that can be mitigated is that of the individuals involved and if they are known to the investor. Trusted business relationships are always going to win in this scenario. Therefore if you take points 1 and 2, you can see how within the high-growth space, groups who are not naturally in each others’ networks, will suffer as a result. Entrepreneurs will suffer because they will lack access to capital. Investors will suffer because they will lack access to the full compliment of deals. This is a societal issue, not one of VC or Angel per se. And can be addressed by building meaningful business relationships across genders.

    1. fredwilson

      All true. But we are going to change this in the next decade. I know you arecommitted to that goal and so am I

      1. Sharon Vosmek

        Yes. Problem solved and Astia out of business within 10 years. (5 if Lesa Mitchell at Kauffman has her way… and she usually does… and I do love a good challenge.)

  30. Travis Valentine

    FYI, at the same time the first-ever White House Women’s Online Summit took place.

  31. Billy Lee

    Now, there is innovation in healthcare, and it is The Great Day Show.I am someone who traded financial derivatives in Chicago, and I have now created something real and something different to address the poor health of our nation. I have been in business and studied economics deeply. The Great Day Show was spawned from my knowledge of business and how to bring the body to peak performance.We at the Show say that only the individual will make a difference in this crisis. The spending is out of control. We need to forget what has not worked and empower people through the force that exercise is. It is not something to be confined to a gym or only demonstrated by yogis. Everyone with a body can make a difference and knows what to do.

  32. andyswan

    LOL everyone with an ounce of conviction is a hypocrite, but you knew that. It’s the basis of almost all religion.Your example of Rand is mildly humorous to the squishy mind….but it’slogically inept.p.s. It’s hard for me to imagine what goes through the head of someone whocan so flippantly suggest that the government confiscate idle wealth. Whatexactly do you think companies do with cash reserves? Lock the paper andgold in a vault, simply to keep it away from others? Or is it possible thatthe money IS being utilized by the economic system, that they are makingrational decisions, and it will be put to use when conditions oropportunities are favorable? Goodness.

  33. andyswan

    When you say “end poverty as we know it”…what exactly do you mean?Are we talking about eliminating a static poverty line of needs, or a dynamic one that rises in proportion to the wealth of those around you? Because by definition, one can be eliminated while the other cannot….at least not in a capitalist society. I suppose North Korea and Cuba have “succeeded” on the second scale…..p.s. Urban areas do not have a monopoly on poverty, not by a long shot.

  34. Dave Pinsen

    Charlie,How would your Founders Corps differ from SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives)?Also, I’m not sure I agree that encouraging more entrepreneurship will “end poverty as we know it.” Milford Bateman has noted that the poorest countries in the world have plenty of entrepreneurship, in the form of subsistence businesses, but the countries that have gotten wealthier and reduced poverty dramatically are the ones that channeled their savings into SMEs instead.I’m pretty sure you and I have circled this same ground before, but maybe others will weigh in as well.

  35. fredwilson

    the gotham gal and i invest heavily in our neighborhood. we have helped entrepreneurs build buildings, start restaurants, gyms, and other local businesses (but not yet barber shops)so i totally agree with you. this is important and it is why i mentioned community entrepreneurship in my blog post

  36. Rick Bullotta

    Totally agree, Charlie. I am hoping to start a “Junior Tech Stars” concept in my area (outside Philadelphia) in the next 2-3 years, focusing on developing young entrepreneurs/tech talent – with a focus on doing useful things, not just greed and obtaining wealth. I’m involved in a startup right now, so time is a bit precious, but after a couple years, I hope to be able to focus on education and mentoring.As someone once said, “do well, then do good…”

  37. MikeSchinkel

    Even if not everyone is getting equal attention, thank god, it’s a start. It’s a damn site better than when prior administrations were in office.What’s more, I’d point out some research Arizona State University did on the nature of entrepreneurship. They classified entrepreneurs are either replicative or innovative.http://knowledge.wpcarey.as…The former is the backbone of the economy whereas the later create new products and services. More importantly, whereas the latter may reduce poverty among those who are empowers, which is no small feat, the latter actually grow the economy. So to invest in the former is often spending a dollar to make a dollar whereas investing wisely in the latter is spending a dollar to make ten.While I am by no means advocating we ignore the needs of the former we need to be very careful not to get in a financing rut where we do not more the company forward. FWIW.

  38. Sekai Farai

    Hey Charlie!Great commentary.I actually think tech entrepreneurship is really important as it relates to urban entrepreneurship. For post-Millennials, being tech illiterate is going to translate into functional illiteracy. My contribution in this direction is a NYC nonprofit called hack/change. We train urban youth + young adults to be computer programmers + ultimately tech founders. At the end of their training, we connect them with bootstrapping tech entrepreneurs who need affordable tech talent to get their startup launched. We create a sustainable cycle of tech entrepreneurship within the urban community. We are just getting started and our inaugural class gets started later this month. Check us out @hackchange or Also, I’m a non-techie just trying to solve a problem that exists in my community. Ultimately, we want these programs to be national then we’re going global. I’m excited!

  39. Dave Pinsen

    When Charlie comes for his bourbon tour of Louisville, you guys should get someone to record a video of you two debating over drinks. Would be interesting to watch.

  40. andyswan

    Who is forcing anyone to own MSFT stock? The shareholders have thatmoney…it’s built into the price of the stock. If they want to be paiddividends, they can elect a board of directors and management team that doesthat. If they want to cash out, they can sell the stock.Why do YOU have the best answer for THEM? A “free market guy” believes thatthe shareholders have the right to determine how cash is utilized…..YOUare the one that doesn’t, apparently.Your babbling about roads and Rand is ignorant at best, and in no way basedon the reality of my “the more local the government, the better” philosophy.Then again, I don’t expect too much logic from someone who actually believesthat a “free market guy” would want federal government involvement in thedividend process. Unreal.

  41. Dave Pinsen

    That’s a good point.

  42. Dave Pinsen

    BTW, just saw this on Seeking Alpha and thought you might find it interesting: Working on an Import Recapture Strategy. An economist suggests there might be an opportunity to move some manufacturing back to the U.S. as costs in China have gone up.

  43. Aaron Klein

    I figured they meant founders but SCORF just didn’t cut it as an acronym… 😉

  44. MrWolf

    “Earned the scars”? You people talk about money like it’s life and death.Go join the National Guard and start saving some lives, then come back and talk about your “scars”.

  45. JLM

    I have had more than a bit of experience with SCORE executives and they are very rarely entrepreneurs nor do they speak the language.They are corporate guys.They are more likely to be from fairly large companies and were salarymen who may have developed incredible expertise in a single area.In their area, they are well versed but they may also fall prey to the singularly focused — this is the way we did it at Proctor & Gamble problem.They rarely have the breadth of business experience to be good advisors to entrepreneurs who have to grapple with the entire spectrum of “C” functions whether they are comfortable with it or not.

  46. Paul Rubillo

    The premise is great, but for most private investors the reality is that they want to make XX times return on their money. NYC should start with better financial education programs first and then teach people about bootstrapping their way as much as possible. I fear the innocent entrepreneur will be no match for the VCs and Angels that will be waiting in the wings.

  47. Jonathan Nation

    i would like to hear more about your exp in investing in things like “helped entrepreneurs build buildings, start restaurants, gyms, and other local businesses (but not yet barber shops)”this is something I am interesting in doing.

  48. Andrew Wong

    Great things to do. Thanks!

  49. markslater

    nice avatar upgrade there andy – friends with shep?

  50. andyswan

    No but I’d love to have a bourbon with him…..what an accomplishment.I wish my entire avatar could be seen in the thumbnail view. Such is lifeon the webs.

  51. Dave Pinsen

    Right — or service jobs that pay a fraction of what the manufacturing jobs did. See also Michael Lind and Ian Fletcher on China’s mercantilism. I blogged about both of their takes here recently.

  52. JLM

    China is the biggest bunch of cheaters on the planet. It is absurd that we let them get away with what they do.We should deny them access to the US markets — let everything pile up on the docks for a month — until they trade FAIR.This is why they think we are such chumps.

  53. Kelley Boyd @msksboyd

    It seems that everybody today cheats (or lies or steals).

  54. kidmercury

    easily the best idea suggested in this comment thread.hope trex profitt, whose name sounds only slightly more real than kid mercury, is up for the legal challenge this will likely involve if it becomes successful. but the idea is 100% correct — a network of things like that. back to local, back to the roots. the new world order is built local government up, not big government down.we do have to conquer the fear issue, though. most people will be afraid of sustainable local economies because of the murky political territory they will occupy. pretty embarrassing to be dominated by fear, but also embarrassing to live in a country where 9/11 is an inside job and people just sit there like it’s cool and acceptable, so i guess there’s just lots of embarrassment going around these days. damn.

  55. kidmercury

    i like many of charlie’s ideas, though i have to side with andy on this one. plus, the government lovers always accuse anyone who makes even the slightest call for limited government to be some type of reckless maniac who doesn’t want roads and wants to compete with everyone over everything. lol, not quite.

  56. Peter Beddows

    That is a very thoughtful and thought-provoking article: Good find Dave. Just added my own tweet about it.I’ve long had the feeling that we still have a substantial, yet all but now invisible, reservoir of small businesses doing “old line type basic manufacturing and production stuff” that we could capitalize upon as a foundation for profitably rebuilding/restoring/re-vitalizing some of the lost job opportunity.As JLM has pointed out in previous A VC blogs, even buying up California businesses and moving them to Texas can turn them into profitable ventures and I have seen locally here in San Diego area, businesses still turing out their own machining while also having capacity to take on substantial contract work. We can do this if we have a mind to and if Government would eliminate the obstacles to doing so here as well as eliminate the perverse incentives that have led to sending work oversees.

  57. Peter Beddows

    Multiple edits here as I completed my research in support of this comment. Apologies to anyone who read the original.This review by Dave Pinsen of a Salon article entitled “Innovation and education won’t save our economy” by Michael Lind is also a worth while read as is the Salon article itself.Dave brings a pragmatic viewpoint in clarification of the substance behind some of the claims of Lind in his original article.Lind’s article itself covers considerable subject matter in making his argument that “Innovation and education won’t save our economy”. He makes some very cogent clear points that are certainly worth thinking about if not leading to forming any creative, active conclusions in response to some of his points.The challenge to sustain and reinforce our own country as a robust place for nurturing and encouraging innovation nonetheless returns to, and relies upon, us the people that can make a difference ~ not on our Government.

  58. ShanaC

    why can’t we find models for local businesses to make a good return, or at least a good enough one that we can find angels?I’m sure there are inefficient that can be solved that would make these sorts of businesses worthwhile investments

  59. Paul Rubillo

    My guess is the failure rate for retail businesses has always been notoriously high and the ROI not worth the headache for most VCs/Angel Investors.

  60. ErikSchwartz

    What might be interesting is to rank best rated in terms of all “liked” replies in the thread, instead of just “likes” on the initial post

  61. Dave Pinsen

    Thanks, Peter. He’s not as aggressive as Fletcher, Lind, (or Paul Tudor Jones)on the issue of trade policy with China, but he makes some interesting suggestions.

  62. JLM

    We have to stop running down greed and wealth. Greed and wealth is my part time job and doing good is my full time job. I am ambitious and not embarassed about it.My Mother always said — you can do a lot more good with a fat purse than a skinny one.

  63. Sekai Farai

    Rick,It would be great to get some feedback from you about my nonprofit effort to train underrepresented youth/young adults to be computer programmers called hack/change. If you have a moment, check it out.!

  64. JLM

    Almost everything that is wrong with our society just now could be cured with a damn good job.A damn good job defines the person himself.When a man comes home and sits at his table and knows that the bread on that table was EARNED with his toil, then almost every potential for ill in society evaporates.Guys with good jobs are proud of themselves and their job. Men with pride in themselves are not robbing convenience stores, forgetting their troubles with drugs and alcohol and are setting an example for themselves, their peers, their families and society.This is also why high taxes — brutally high taxes like we have today — are so hurtful. They rob a man of his labor and then insult him with the cavalier manner in which they are collected and the reckless manner in which they are spent.What are YOU? You ARE your job!

  65. PhilipSugar

    I will have to disagree with you on Greed. Maybe we argue over the definition. Greed is what allows you build derivatives to hack the market, take home $100M a year in salary, blow up the economy, and sleep at night.Wealth, that’s what you get when you work hard, work smart, and leverage your talent. Wealth is good.What bothers me in no particular order:1. Wall Street profits because of the lack of control of the SEC and the actions of the Fed.2. The fact that you or I don’t get credit if we have 100 people that we pay that are paying taxes, getting insurance, and retirement. We get taxed at the same rate as that f’ing iBanker or CEO that ships jobs overseas. As a matter of fact due to SS matching we pay a hell of a lot more!!3. Entitlement programs that provide incentive for people that should not be having kids to have more.4. The delusional belief by a lot of smart people that hate when I say the vast majority of people that live in shitty areas deserve to live there. They don’t have family members that are the head of medical for a maximum security prison, teach in the worst districts of the inner-city, or go to really bad areas for church. I do. The majority of people that are in these places are broken and not going to be fixed. Welfare and food stamps are fuel for the fire.5. Trade with China.I could go on but I realize I’m ranting.

  66. Dave W Baldwin

    I would say that wealth applies to your full time job since wealth applies the dollar, a tool to use to benefit the greater good, knowledge gained and the experience of God’s biggest gift to us as we know of the positive difference we make.Glad to know you have attained the above.

  67. JLM

    I am always focused on people who actually do things and make things and provide real services, so we are on the exact same wavelength.I believe, BTW, that I was the first to call for public executions for derivative creators? On the steps of the NYSE, why not?

  68. Prokofy

    Oh, stop it.The desire for profit is a normal and natural human instinct and cannot be thwarted, so stop trying to socially-engineer people into being different, it never works out.My mom used to teach in the inner-city for 25 years.My relatives have been in the prison, not the head of medical.God doesn’t think you’re better if you go to church in a poor area. I go to church in an area that’s better than where I live.Don’t worry, the people overseas are rebelling more and we won’t be able to keep shipping jobs over there to them. But meanwhile our shipping jobs to them has been part of what helped them rebel. Not all such a bad thing?

  69. Dave Pinsen

    Thanks, Peter.Something I note in that blog post is a progression in Lind’s thoughts. I mention an FT column from a couple of years ago where he speculated that low-end health care jobs could replace lost manufacturing jobs, and I note that he seems to have belatedly realized the importance of manufacturing jobs.

  70. Prokofy

    The problem is the innovation is all dumb stuff like gamification and inanities like checking in to places.

  71. Dave Pinsen

    I posted a link here before, but Disqus ate it for some reason: there was an article in the NYT over the weekend about the founders of the Ace Hotel chain, which noted how they bought art from Shep to decorate their first hotel in Seattle, before he was famous.

  72. andyswan


  73. kidmercury

    i think it would be more rational to ask whether the investment is better executed by the free market or a central authority, and plan accordingly. the randians have come to the conclusion that the answer to that question is usually, but not always, the free market. of course, randians also realize free market principles only work with a sound money supply, which the world currently does not have.

  74. andyswan

    The framers of our Constitution had a pretty good feel for this. The Federal level should only be used to invest in that which local governments cannot do: Interstate commerce, military protection and certain types of justice.What can be done by the individual should be left to the individual. What can be done by local governments, should be done by local governments. What must be done by the Federal government, should be done by the federal government. No more.It’s really not that difficult, nor hypocritical.

  75. andyswan

    Just a minor little sidenote for your “hoarding cash” fact-finding mission: Microsoft has paid approx $50 BILLION in dividends in the last 7 years,over $6/share. A dividend that has never seen a decrease from one quarterto the next, and never been missed, since instituted in 2004. In fact, itlooks as though MSFT will pay a dividend of over $3 BILLION in 2011.On the other hand, neither GOOG nor AAPL pays a dividend, nor do they intendto, despite having cash on hand roughly equal to MSFT….and their stockshave seen exponential appreciation over the same time period….But hey….don’t let that stop you from mandating their model be changed inorder to fit YOUR prescription for proper use of funds.

  76. MikeSchinkel

    I went to see a SCORE executive when I was running the company I founded in 1994 that I grew 1750% over 5 years (with first year’s revenues being $600k.) I left that meeting feeling like I had completely wasted my afternoon. That’s just 1 data point, admittedly, but I’ve not heard anyone else I know have a positive experience with SCORE. In Atlanta, ATDC is lightyears better, but it’s only for tech startups (good for me though since I’m launching another tech startup. 🙂

  77. MikeSchinkel

    In that respect, we are chumps. People in the US scream nationalism but most of them still buy from Walmart because it’s 20% cheaper.

  78. Quizotic

    Dude.You are more than your job, as evidenced by the time you spend on this board, which I assume is not your job, and the wonderful things you say here.I’ve loved lots of people who have checked out of this life, and none of them have felt defined by their job.

  79. Lee

    man, you think you have high taxes.try living in the UK!

  80. fredwilson

    that’s not dumb stuff. those ideas, when implemented against other areas,will produce very interesting results

  81. JLM

    You are absolutely correct.

  82. JLM

    You are overthinking the subject.”Hey, who is that guy over there?””Oh, he’s a stockbroker.”We are defined by our work consciously and subconsciously.Me, I am a philosopher who just works as a businessman to pay my bills. But I am a philosopher.

  83. Peter Beddows

    Reading your posts on SteamCatapult about other people’s posts is almost like reading the Cliff Notes about the other post.My own take on the issues expressed in the “Ten Years Ago Paul Tudor Jones Had An Acute Case Of Plantar Fasciitis” article is that that while we have been totally distracted with the notion that we need to defend against radical extremists who want to do whatever they can to kill as many of us as they can, the real threat is economic/financial.By deliberately holding down the value of the RMB against the dollar, the Chinese have been waging a very real, albeit intangible, war against us since the day of that 50% devaluation of the RMB.Ergo: Destroy us financially and who comes out as the master of this economic universe without firing a single shot or throwing even a single nuke our way? Those who were once the slave masters now find themselves the slaves. How ironic is that?

  84. Prokofy

    That’s the worrisome part, Fred, manipulating people with gamification or tracking their movements by making them “check in,” and you don’t seem too coconcerned as long as you profit.Orwell, brought to us by business men?

  85. JLM

    Yeah, but you have the Channel Islands, no?

  86. Dave Pinsen

    Thanks, Peter.This 2004 piece by Ian Fletcher, in the wonderfully named journal Post-Autistic Economic Review, is apposite (and seems prescient, in hindsight). Key paragraph:The neoliberal retort to this problem is that it must self-correct eventually when the dollar collapses, pricing imports out of reach. True, but because America’s ability to assume debt and sell assets can postpone this collapse for years, it may not be the smooth correction that neoclassical models imply. Our thought experiment shows how the key is debt, because debt, confidence in which can collapse overnight, can turn this smooth adjustment into a volatile whipsaw. This insight oddly resembles Keynes’s attack on the classical model: credit is the joker in the deck that disturbs the celestial harmony of free markets. The dénouement may be a sudden collapse that comes after America’s industrial base has been ground down by years of cheap imports, resulting in a loss of entrenched industrial advantage that cannot be regained at feasible cost.

  87. fredwilson

    I’m not concerned because I believe they will bring good things. You areconcerned because you fear them

  88. Peter Beddows

    “seems prescient, in hindsight” I would say is absolutely correct.You appear to have an uncanny knack for spotting articles and authors that reflect exactly our own concerns and observations.Have found that “Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism” by George A. Akerlof, Robert J. Shiller and “The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section: ‘On Robustness and Fragility'” speak directly to the dynamics underlying some of the otherwise seemingly illogical, even imponderable, explanations for much of what we are seeing and experiencing now.Sadly, however, none of this insight appears to offer a chance for any plan for change that could ever see implementation given strength of vested interests so firmly planted against seeing any change to the status quo.

  89. Dave Pinsen

    Thanks. These issues represent a political opening here, though. I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone try to fill it.

  90. Peter Beddows

    Agreed: Be interesting to see if someone steps forward that we can trust to lead without fear of favor. Hard to accomplish as things now stand.

  91. Lee

    sorry, just found this.ordinary people don’t have access to the channel islands. only those already wealthy enough to take advantage of the system over there.

  92. andyswan

    The difference is that my philosophy does not require coercion of thereluctant through the sanctioned threat of violence, and yours does.