Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders
Got access to a couple million bucks and want to be a venture capitalist? A miner of start-up business gold? Then get used to being wrong.
That’s one lesson we learned during a discussion with Venture Capitalists at the Reuters Technology Summit: even the most successful investors — those who finance the bandwagon others jump on when it comes to the likes of Facebook, Myspace and Twitter — meet with entrepreneurs, like what they hear, write a check, and watch the investment go up in smoke.
Rich Wong, partner of Accel Partners, an investor in social networking site Facebook and mobile advertising network AdMob, the rate of picking winners is much like baseball batting averages, where top players like Joe Mauer, Albert Pujols or Ichiro Suzuki do not get a hit 7 of every 10 times they come to the plate.
You can bat .300 or .400 and you are doing really well (even though) you are wrong a reasonable percentage of the time.
Whether it’s passing up on a ticket to Woodstock or not buying Apple stock at $80 a share in January 2009, everybody has regrets.
So what do VCs regret?
We asked the panel of three money-men gathered for the VC Panel at the Reuters Technology Summit for their biggest laments when it comes to the deals they let get away.
For Matt Murphy, partner with influential Silicon Valley Venture fund Kleiner Perkins and point person on the firm's iFund, old-school is still the way to go.
During an interview at the Reuters technology summit, the VC said picking the right startups to back was tough, given that he had received 8,000 business plans for iFund, which invests in iPhone and iPad applications.
Good news for us computer geeks! PCs are nearly ready to ditch hard drives for faster, less energy-intensive drives with flash memory, like in a camera or cell phone, according to memory maker Micron, which ought to know. That is exciting news for victims of crashed hard drives and people who always want something new.
"I think it'll be a story in 2011, and it'll be pretty good penetration in 2012. But, you know, maybe I'm wrong," said Mark Durcan, president and chief operating officer of Micron, during the Reuters Global Technology Summit.
Say it's not so -- 'the cloud' isn't ready for prime time? That's the view from networking company Brocade, whose marketing chief compared the hype to the rush years ago to call center outsourcing.
All those applications and data that live off your computer somewhere in the Internet make up the cloud, from Google word processing software to your home pictures and video, and it is hot, hot, hot. But Brocade chief marketing officer John McHugh told the Reuters Global Technology Summit in San Francisco that big business was not ready to embrace it for sensitive data and the most important applications.
Still unsure whether economic recession is good or bad for video-games sales, more than a year in? If so, you’re in good company — neither does the world’s biggest games publisher. Electronic Arts’ head of European publishing says the company still hasn’t figured out whether people cut spending on big items like housing and cars first, or whether those kinds of decisions are just too hard.
“We really wonder, hmm, in economically difficult times would people in order to have SOME fun actually play more games or less games, and then, would they spend more or less? It’s really, it’s impossible to say,” Jens-Uwe Intat told the Reuters Global Technology Summit in Paris.
Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdams kindly spent some time with us this afternoon and spoke at length about the future of LTE (Long Term Evolution) 4G high speed Internet from the No.1 U.S. wireless phone company.
Asked if there was "any hope" that Verizon would have the iPad anytime soon, McAdams laughed:
Three things we learned from chatting with Microsoft CFO Peter Klein: for one, he's a big fan of his boss, CEO Steve Ballmer, despite their contrasting interview styles (Klein is even tempered; Ballmer is famously energetic, which I've witnessed first hand).
Reuters: What's it like working with Steve Ballmer?
Klein: It's awesome. He's incredibly passionate, he cares about nothing except the success of the company. He's incredibly smart. He knows the industry backwards and forward.
Islamic banking is one of the world's fastest growing financial sectors, according to industry estimates. It has attracted more attention in the aftermath of the global financial crisis as investors are increasingly looking for alternative, ethical ways of investing. This has also intensified a debate within the industry on whether it should move further away from conventional banking, designing products based more directly on Islamic principles. Global issuance of Islamic bonds, or sukuk, is expected to fall this year from 2009 levels, a recent Reuters poll showed, as the Dubai debt crisis and an expected rise in borrowing costs weigh on market sentiment. In the Gulf Arab region, a funding crunch at Bahrain-based Islamic investment house Gulf Finance House shows that the financial crisis is far from over in the region and that the industry urgently needs to develop new products and business lines to generate revenues. CEOs and other top names will discuss these and other topics in a series of closed on-the-record interviews at the Reuters Islamic Banking and Finance Summit, to be held in Dubai, Manama, Kuala Lumpur, London, Geneva and Jakarta on February 15-18, 2010.
Unlike many of us, media executives know what it’s like to play around with large wads of cash. So it seemed natural to ask them about what kind of investment opportunities they’re seeing when they gathered in New York this week for the Reuters Global Media Summit.
We gave each media honcho $10 million in hypothetical cash and told them to put the money to work without buying stock in their own companies.