VC: “Entrepreneurs have a lot of the power”

March 28, 2011

Ann Miura-Ko is known for using the term “ninja assassin” in describing the kinds of technology entrepreneurs she likes to invest in as a venture capitalist and co-founder of Silicon Valley’s Floodgate Fund. Reuters recently caught up with one of the country’s up-and-coming VCs, after Miura-Ko attended at a Washington, D.C. conference addressing financing options for small companies.

Q: You’ve said you are concerned about impending regulatory restrictions on small investment firms as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act takes effect. Why?

A: This comes out of the result of some bad behavior on the part of investors. But what they’re (government is) trying to do is mitigate risk for the whole economy by having smaller investment firms also register with the SEC. As a small fund myself, that doesn’t have a lot of overhead, we don’t have a lot of back-office people working for us. The amount of reporting that is required relative to the amount of risk it de-risks for the entire economy, I think that the cost benefit doesn’t really make sense to me. We as a really small fund would have to start registering with the SEC pretty soon, and the amount of back-office work that would be required is kind of ridiculous.

Q: You’re interested in easing residency restrictions for foreign-born entrepreneurs. Why?

A: One of the topics I love to talk a little bit about is the concept of the startup visa, which would enable founders to be able to stay in the United States longer and be able to start their companies here. I recently did a study on some of the top (startup) exits that have happened over the course of the last five years. What’s really outstanding is the number of founders who come from outside the United States. I’d like to foster that. I look at fellow graduate students from Stanford and where they ended up. I see really a lot of technical talent staying here even after they get graduate degrees and I think that’s also going to work for a competitive advantage.

Q: What is the environment like for early-stage companies seeking funding options?

A: Over the last five or ten years, the amount of information for entrepreneurs on how to work with investors, the amount of information is huge. There are blogs out there now. There are resource centers like Venture Hacks. The transparency in the industry has increased. For entrepreneurs who want to find that information, there is plenty of information to be found. This kind of information didn’t exist even three, four, five years ago. I think that’s why you find people talking about the democratization of entrepreneurship and innovation. It’s really a time in which entrepreneurs have a lot of the power.

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