For the second time in six weeks, the NVCA Board of Directors convened on Tuesday to discuss how the industry can and should address sexual harassment. Harassment of any kind has no place in the venture industry, and our board is focused on making sure they, as a group of leaders from our industry, and we, as the national trade association of the industry, help steer our community towards positive outcomes to address this issue.

Members of the NVCA board, NVCA staff and I have dedicated a tremendous amount of time and attention to the matter since news reports of sexual harassment involving venture investors first began to surface in June. Our main point of emphasis has been to speak with and learn from as many stakeholders as possible to collect all the information necessary to arrive at the best path forward for us as an organization and for our industry. As I have said throughout this process, our number one priority is to get this done right, not fast. Read more »

Last month, we issued a call to action, requesting that anyone who wants to be part of NVCA’s efforts to address sexual harassment in venture capital join with us to develop a plan of positive actions. The response has been encouraging, and we are grateful for everyone who has taken the time to submit their thoughts and recommendations or raised their hand to work directly with us.

In addition to crowdsourcing recommendations via our web form, we are actively engaging in direct conversations with a broad swath of individuals, organizations and interested stakeholders from across the ecosystem to solicit their thoughts and ideas. Over the last several weeks, I have spoken to GPs, LPs, entrepreneurs, academics and, most importantly, many of the women who bravely came forward to share their unsettling stories. They also have shared their thoughts on what positive actions should be taken. Collectively, all these recommendations generally fall into three broad buckets: 1) Policies and Best Practices, 2) Training and Education, and 3) Reporting Capabilities. Read more »

On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security was scheduled to begin receiving applications from foreign-born startup founders under the International Entrepreneur Rule. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration delayed the rule with an eye on eventually rescinding it, shutting down a commonsense policy tool that would have kept job-creators in the U.S. to build their companies here and hire American workers.

As a quick refresher, the International Entrepreneur Rule was put in place during the final days of the Obama Administration and would have created a regulatory structure similar to a Startup Visa, which NVCA has supported for over a decade. While the Startup Visa has been caught up in the broader immigration reform efforts that have stalled in Congress, the International Entrepreneur Rule had the potential to accomplish many of the same outcomes. Read more »

Tax policy is one of the most powerful economic levers that policymakers have at their disposal. So it is concerning to see that instead of modernizing the tax code to recognize and support entrepreneurship, tax policy discussions in Washington have been more likely to focus on increasing taxes on the entrepreneurial ecosystem. For example, there have been calls to increase taxes on carried interest capital gains and repeal the Qualified Small Business Stock (QSBS) rules to pay for unrelated priorities.

At NVCA, we think this is the exact wrong way to view tax reform. Instead, tax reform should be an opportunity to support the creation and growth of more U.S. companies. We have submitted a policy paper to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance detailing a tax reform agenda that would encourage new company formation. In this submission, we explain why startups are so critical to the country’s economic competitiveness, why startups are a unique business model, and call for a specific section in tax reform that should be devoted to proposals that would encourage new company formation. We then detail four tax reform proposals that would help startups without creating a new credit or deduction. These ideas include: Read more »

Four weeks have passed since news first broke of incidents of sexual harassment by a member of the venture community.  Since then, several other instances of inappropriate behavior involving individuals from our industry have come into the spotlight.  As much as it pains me to say this, this is probably not the end but the beginning.  Other brave women are likely to come forward to share their stories of sexual harassment and mistreatment.

Their bravery for stepping out of the shadows should be applauded.  As a husband and father of three including a young daughter, I would never wish for this to happen to them, just as I would never wish for this to happen to anyone that has been mistreated.  However, if their bravery leads to real change in our industry, let it not be in vain.  This is an opportunity to take the necessary steps towards a better future for venture capital.  Let’s seize it. Read more »

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: an entrepreneur comes to the United States from her home country with dreams of growing an idea into a blockbuster company. The entrepreneur starts the company here because of our culture of innovation and risk-taking, coupled with robust financing options and the world’s best universities. Working shoulder-to-shoulder with a venture capitalist, the entrepreneur succeeds and creates an exceptional company that employs thousands of Americans, improves lives, and delivers technological or medical advancement.

Given the many benefits new companies bring the U.S., you would think our government would be clamoring to attract the world’s best entrepreneurs like policymakers have in Canada, France, and the U.K. Sadly, that’s not the case. Earlier today the Trump Administration announced it would do the exact opposite and delay International Entrepreneur Rule with an eye toward rescinding the rule in the next several months. That’s a missed opportunity and one that competitor countries are cheering today. Read more »

At the start of the summer, I moved to San Francisco with NVCA to establish a full-time presence for our organization here. The journey West has brought me back to the place I called home for six years before my four-year stint in DC, but more importantly it’s been the start of a new chapter and exciting time for NVCA to engage more closely with the venture ecosystem in the mecca of the industry.

Just one month in and I’ve already had the chance to meet with a range of VCs and startups. Some highlights from June:

SoftTechVC’s Summer Party was a warm welcome my first week in San Francisco, where I met founders at many SoftTech portfolio companies. Read more »

In the past several days, the brave testimonials of Niniane Wang, Susan Ho, and Leiti Hsu have drawn a sharp focus on the unacceptable sexual harassment and misconduct of Justin Caldbeck. This behavior has no room in our industry and opened a critical discussion about how we can work together to make systemic changes to ensure that anyone working in the entrepreneurial ecosystem is not subjected to this type of behavior in the future. NVCA strongly condemns sexual harassment, abuse and discrimination of any form.

Leaders in the industry have come forward with action-oriented perspectives about how to advance inclusion and end harassment in the venture ecosystem. While there may be disagreement and debate on the most productive approaches, there should be no debate about the end goal. Read more »

The formation of new venture capital funds is critical to the future of innovation. What does it take to become a venture capital investor? Emerging managers—teams raising their first venture capital funds—face myriad challenges in the process of getting their first funds off the ground. Which limited partners should Emerging Managers target? What are the best approaches to developing and articulating an investment thesis? How can fund managers approach building a top-flight team of investors, advisers and experts? Very few succeed. According to the 2017 NVCA Yearbook, commitments to venture capital funds reached a ten-year high, with 253 venture capital funds raising 41.6 billion last year. Of all funds raised in 2016, only nine percent were first-time funds. Read more »

Last week, NVCA held a digital class on Successful Fundraiser’s Philosophy: How Micro VCs Get Off the Ground & Succeed. With micro VC funds playing an important role in the startup lifecycle—micro VC funds closing in 2016 finished with $1.5 billion in commitments, according to PitchBook—NVCA and our members are an important resource for new fund managers who are getting off the ground and learning to navigate the fundraising process. The formation of new venture capital funds is critical to the future of innovation, and NVCA was pleased to be able to provide the ecosystem with tools and insights to help expand the VC community.

We began the webinar with an insider’s perspective from Cindy Padnos of Illuminate Ventures on how micro VC is evolving and what were some of the lessons that she learned from the process of raising her first institutional fund. Padnos described what it was like for her to launch a new VC firm, from Illuminate’s proof of concept fund, to how she brought in original investors and how the success of that fund helped her close Illuminate’s Fund 1 in 2013, from which Illuminate has made 15 investments and so far has had 3 M&A exits. Read more »