Things I Learned at the National Venture Capital Association Meeting

Opinion

I am at the annual meeting of the National Venture Capital Association being held in Boston lastthis week. The tone was remarkably upbeat—but only for those firms with either a new fund or who somehow avoided making a lot of overvalued investments during the last few years. There was a lot of rhetoric about how/when/whether the world will improve, whether VC’s will make money in cleantech, and when LPs will begin to wade back into the asset class.

But I did learn a number of things I did not know when I woke up…

* Revenues at VC-backed companies accounted for 20.5% of the nation’s GDP

* VC-backed companies represented 8.6% of all employment

* There are 12 million jobs at public companies which were once VC-backed

* Once companies went public, headcount grew 92% (94% in the 1980’s, 76% in the 2000’s – not a great trajectory admittedly)

* There were 1,171 new VC-backed companies in 2008

* Unfortunately there were only 6 IPO’s in 2008 and 341 M&A transactions that same year

* It now takes on average 9.6 years to get VC-backed companies public (or 6.5 years for an M&A transaction)

* $4.5 billion is being spent now from the stimulus package on “smart grid” technologies

* One in three people have been meaningfully helped by VC-backed biotech companies (staggering)

* WalMart recently lowered the cost of generic drugs to $4 which they believe served to take more costs out of the healthcare system than any single act of healthcare legislation

* Shockingly this year the 65,000 annual H-1B visa cap was not hit in the first week of being available (not happened before) which speaks to the limitations instituted that foreigners are not able to displace US workers

* There is now great anxiety that the federal government will regulate the VC industry given the “concerns” that the VC industry may create something called “systemic risk”

The industry I work in has certainly been an engine of innovation and job growth; to hear some of the specific statistics only reconfirms that understanding. It also underscores the need to get the VC ecosystem back on track and should provide caution to the government to be careful on how it feels it needs to regulate the industry.

Michael Greeley is a General Partner at Flare Capital Partners, a healthcare technology venture firm. Follow @greels1

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