– Jeff Bussgang is a General Partner at Flybridge Capital Partners, an early-stage venture capital firm in Boston. This post originally appeared in the Vox Populi section of www.peHUB.com. The views expressed are his own. –
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with the newly invented personal computer. In 1982, I used my paper route and Bar Mitzvah money to purchase an Apple II+ PC (my parents did subsidize the purchase somewhat, I confess). I was mesmerized by the magic of the personal computer and all its possibilities: games, programming, communications and more.
But what I really fell in love with was this new, magical thing called the reset button. Don’t like where you find yourself in the middle of Space Invaders? Hit the reset button. Frozen out in the midst of trying to log on to a bulletin board? Hit the reset button. Mad at your older sister for messing with your top score in Asteroids? Hit the reset button. This magical button represented a unique opportunity to erase the past and begin anew with a clean slate.
Twenty-seven years later, the theme of hitting the reset button has come back in spades. Moody’s Economy.com projects 15 million homeowners are underwater – that is, their homes are worth less than what they owe on their mortgages. President Obama’s latest piece of legislation in front of Congress is aimed at allowing these homeowners to hit the reset button with their lenders. Similar debt work outs are happening across corporations.
Throughout VC-backed portfolios (i.e., small companies) and large companies, CEOs and CFOs are in discussions with lenders to renegotiate their debt and attempt to hit the reset button on a new set of terms in light of the current economic turmoil. In foreign affairs, a similar tone is being struck. A few weeks ago, Vice President Joe Biden declared it was “time to hit the reset button” in Washington’s relationship with Russia and Iran, among others.