Saturday, February 16, 2008

PE/VC conference report

Friday I spent the day at Columbia Business School's annual Private Equity & VC conference. The conference was pretty good, and there was a diverse set of attendees, not just business school students (although, we did make up the majority).

Alan Patricof (CBS alum) opened up the conference and spent his time talking about entrepreneurship in the developing world. He is involved with a variety of initiatives in that area, and seems pretty passionate about it. He's also currently the founding managing partner of Greycroft Partners, which is a media-focused VC firm he started recently. He's also known as the "father" of VC - a very accomplished guy, no doubt.

I attended a couple of panels. One was about VC's and networks - not the wired kind of networks, but social networks. I didn't think this was a great topic to begin with, but it might have been useful for people new to VC who don't understand how important relationships are in the business.

The second panel was much better, and was focused on the globalization of venture capital. Lots of advice was given about pursuing venture capital careers, and one of the panelists mentioned she was hiring interns as well! (I should probably drop her a note, anyways). I also found it interesting how the panelists responded to a question about the tax treatment of carried interest. One panelist said in not so many words that taxing carried interest as income would not dissuade people from getting into the VC business. Meanwhile, another panelist looked like they were squirming a bit :) I dunno, carry looks like income to me, unless someone can convince me otherwise...

There were non-VC related panels as well, including one that focused on limited partners.

I was really happy to see attendees (and alums) at the conference who were working in industry and coming for the educational experience. I also met a couple of Masters candidates in the engineering school who came to learn more about PE/VC. From what I understand from one of those guys, the event was not really promoted within the engineering school, which is a shame. It would be nice to get the MBAs and the engineering folks working together more often, or even just mixing informally.

Afterwards, there was a social reception w/wine and beer as well as nice passed hors d'ouveres. Nice! Anyone who knows me well knows I am a passed hors d'ouveres junky...

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