Ben Veghte

by & filed under Events, Issues, NVCA Blog.

It has been one week since the venture capital community convened in Washington, D.C. at the 2017 NVCA Annual Meeting and everyone is still buzzing from the event and our new format.

We rewrote the script for this year’s event to focus exclusively on policy and direct engagement with policymakers to advance a pro-innovation agenda that supports new company creation. Crucial to that mission was moving the Annual Meeting to our nation’s capital.

Although this was a change from how the meeting has been done in recent years, we were really taking a lesson from the past, replicating what was done in the early days of the association.

In the early years of NVCA in the 1970’s, the NVCA Annual Meeting was held in D.C. It was an opportunity for the young venture capital industry to come to Washington, learn about policy, and make an impact on policies important to supporting entrepreneurship and spurring high-growth startups. In fact, it was during those early years that NVCA helped change several government policies that gave rise to the modern venture capital industry and demonstrated to the early pioneers of our industry how impactful direct advocacy can be on an industry.

While the venture capital industry has matured immensely since those early days of NVCA, the rationale behind those early Annual Meetings still holds true. Therefore, we went back to our roots this year and brought the venture capital industry and the D.C. community together for two days of policy education and advocacy meetings on Capitol Hill.

On the first day, the VC community and D.C. policymakers and influencers gathered at the Newseum for a day of policy education, discussions, and presentations.

The day was filled with engaging content, including: keynote speakers Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI); policy panels on immigration reform, capital markets, tax reform and more featuring prominent VCs, policymakers and government officials; a data presentation from PitchBook; and the official passing of the gavel from outgoing NVCA Chair Venky Ganesan of Menlo Ventures to our new Chair Scott Kupor of Andreessen Horowitz.

On the second day of our Annual Meeting, members of the venture community organized for advocacy meetings on Capitol Hill with lawmakers and staff to advance our pro-innovation agenda. The day started with a briefing and prep meeting in the House Ways & Means Committee hearing room before assembling into pods for our meetings. Among others, our groups met with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Senator John Thune (R-SD), Senate Banking Committee staff and House Ways and Means Committee staff to discuss tax reform to spur new company formation, capital markets reform to jumpstart the pipeline of VC-backed IPOs, and immigration reform to ensure foreign-born founders can come to the U.S. to build and grow their companies.

  • Author of legislation to create a Startup Visa for foreign-born entrepreneurs, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) updates the audience on the latest discussions taking place on immigration reform and provided updates on other key policy matters he is working on that affect innovation and the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
  • Senior senator from Hawaii and member of the Senate Democratic leadership team, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) gives an update to the audience on the latest policy deliberations playing out on Capitol Hill and their impact on venture capital and startups.
  • Scott Sandell of NEA and Shervin Pishevar of Sherpa Capital join congressional staffers on a panel discussing current immigration reform efforts and how those will impact immigrant entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
  • Rich Wong of Accel Partners, Paul Edattel of House Energy & Commerce, and Lisa Maki, CEO of PokitDok, discuss how policymakers can support innovation in areas such as healthcare, technology, and machine learning.
  • Scott Frederick of NEA leads a panel discussion on how the government can leverage venture-backed technology to solve critical issues for the country.
  • Scott Kupor of Andreessen Horowitz (far right) leads a panel discussion on the decline in venture-backed IPOs—exploring what happened, why, and what we can do to reopen the IPO markets to venture-backed companies.
  • Adley Bowden of PitchBook, the official data provider of NVCA, presents on the state of the venture capital industry.
  • Outgoing NVCA Chair Venky Ganesan of Menlo Ventures passes the ceremonial gavel to Scott Kupor of Andreessen Horowitz, officially starting Kupor's term as NVCA Chair.
  • Veteran Washington strategists Bruce Mehlman and David Castagnetti review the Trump Administration's first 112 days and offer their perspectives on current politics and policies and how they will impact the VC industry and portfolio companies over the next several years.
  • NVCA's Policy Team provides an overview of NVCA's public policy agenda and prepares the group for meetings with lawmakers and staff.
  • NVCA President and CEO Bobby Franklin organizes and prepares his pod for meetings with lawmakers and staff.
  • NVCA members Brian Rich of Catalyst Investors (second from left) and Bob Pavey of Morgenthaler (right) meet with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) (second from right) along with Falon Donohue of VentureOhio (center) and Hannah Munizza of NVCA (left).
  • The audience listening to Adley Bowden of PitchBook's data presentation on the state of the VC industry.
  • Senator Flake giving his keynote speech in the auditorium at the Newseum during day 1 of the NVCA Annual Meeting.
  • Kate Mitchell, former Chair of NVCA, asking Senator Schatz a question during his keynote.
  • The view of the Washington mall from the Newseum balcony during a break for lunch.
  • Annual Meeting attendees enjoying the view from the Newseums balcony during a break in programming.

Our day of advocacy on behalf of the VC industry was a fitting end to the two-day event. Overall, moving the NVCA Annual Meeting back to Washington was the right call. It both returns NVCA to its roots and also strengthens us as an industry in Washington by bringing VCs to D.C. Planning is already underway for next year, so mark your calendars for 2018.