Innovation – the Intersection of Fear of Status Quo, Opportunity and Talent

At InterWest, I recently had the pleasure of hosting an executive team from a 100 year old insurance company. They were visiting Silicon Valley in order to meet with various “innovative” companies in order to learn how they might themselves become more innovative.

The format of the meeting was a discussion between myself and eight executives. They wanted to know how we, InterWest, identified innovative ideas and/or sponsored innovation inside our portfolio companies.

It was easy to answer the latter – we don’t.  We are investors in ideas we believe are innovative but we are not the creators of that innovation – at least not typically. It is the entrepreneur and the team that are the innovators.

The Bubble Machine

If you have at least some sort of marginal interest in what is going on in 2011 with respect to start ups, you can’t help to have read or heard about the new “bubble” controversy.

Valuations and deal sizes for “hot start ups” are reaching lofty heights.

The Value of Growth for SaaS Companies

I received a report from SaaS Capital titled “Leaders and Laggards: SaaS Growth and the Cost of Capital”. The subject of the report is how the public markets value a high growth SaaS company (their definition of high growth is >25% YoY).

The report states, “13 public SaaS companies tracked by Pacific Crest Securities have increased in value 40% since the beginning of 2008. During that same period, the S&P index has yet to return to its pre-recession value.”

Did Salesforce Just Announce Support for Client/Server Computing?

I was able to attend Dreamforce on Tuesday in SF this week and hear Marc Benioff’s keynote address – although I had to do it from an overflow room since the main room was packed beyond capacity. Tremendous showing especially considering the fact that we’re supposed to be in an economically depressed climate. 

Raising Money From Venture Capital – Size Does Matter….(So Does Time)

There are a multitude of venture capital firms (although not as many as there were a few years ago and more than there will be a few years from now) with different business models.

Some firms prefer to invest in early stage v late stage companies. Some must be assured at least 20% ownership before they will invest. Some want to lead an investment. Some only want to follow another lead investor. Some only want to follow Sequoia. :)

Some have large funds where they must put to work a lot of capital. Others have smaller funds where a modest success in the portolio can deliver reasonable multiples for their Limited Partners.