With 2017 in the rearview, we can now take a deep breath and try to make sense of what was a very turbulent year. President Trump’s first year in office turned out to be even more unconventional than his campaign for president. Protests the day after his inauguration, making news with the stroke of a tweet, and major legislative failures followed by major legislative victories, President Trump’s (almost) first year in office has been filled with fireworks on a weekly—and often daily—basis. As someone who has lived and worked in Washington for nearly three decades, this has been both exciting and exhausting to witness.
Books could be—and in fact already have been—filled with the events of Trump’s young presidency in 2017, so I won’t attempt to recount them all here. But from the persistent cloud of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election to successfully overturning piece after piece of former President Obama’s legacy, President Trump’s first 11 months on the job was a Richter scale of peaks and valleys.
The GOP majority in Congress also experienced a rollercoaster ride in 2017, with a massive legislative failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but then following that with the frenzied rush to pass the first tax reform bill in 30 years in the waning days of 2017. Through it all, team NVCA was hard at work making sure that the voices and interests of startups, entrepreneurs and venture capital investors were heard in Washington. And our hard work bore a great deal of fruit in 2017.
On the policy side, we fought on a number of different fronts to protect the entrepreneurial ecosystem from damaging tax increases. The issues we worked on include: protection of carried interest capital gains through a 3-year hold period, preservation of Qualified Small Business Stock rules (QSBS) and the R&D credit payroll tax offset, and fighting against proposals to tax stock options at vesting and the grad tax. We also fought for a provision that will allow employees at startups to be able to defer paying taxes on exercised stock options for up to five years. In addition, a federal judge ruled in NVCA’s favor in the lawsuit we filed on behalf of the entrepreneurial ecosystem against the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) delay of the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER). The rule is now in effect for foreign-born entrepreneurs and the government is accepting applications under the rule.
NVCA made several important steps to address diversity & inclusion in the VC industry through our new VentureForward initiative, including the release in March of model HR policies for VC firms, publicly condemning sexual harassment in VC, and creating a plan of action to address harassment in the industry. In addition, our sold out 2017 Leadership Gala was a major success, with highlights including the perfect new location at the Rosewood in Menlo Park, introduction of three new awards and Bill Draper receiving the Lifetime Achievement in Venture Capital award. We also had a very successful Annual Meeting, which we held in Washington D.C. for the first time in many years. And our quarterly PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor report continued to be the preeminent report on venture capital data.
While there were a great many highlights in 2017, we have a lot more work to do in 2018 to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Immigration policy, addressing harassment and diversity & inclusion in the VC industry, how tax reform is implemented, net neutrality, and capital markets and regulatory reform will be some of the key areas of focus for NVCA in 2018.
Read on to learn more about our work in 2017 and what’s ahead in 2018. Thank you for your continued support.
President & CEO
NVCA helped secure numerous wins in the tax reform bill, including: fighting to remove a provision that would have taxed stock options at vesting; helping secure a 5-year deferral for taxes owed on exercised stock options; protecting long-term investment into startups through a 3-year hold period on carried interest capital gains; ensuring that the R&D credit for payroll offset and Qualified Small Business Stock (QSBS) rules were preserved; and fighting to remove a provision that would have taxed U.S. graduate student’s tuition wavers as income.
The key tax priorities for NVCA are ensuring the new tax reform bill is implemented in a way that supports startups and entrepreneurship, and fighting for pro-entrepreneurship tax policy, such as creating a safe harbor for startups from Net Operating Loss rules, reforming the R&D tax credit to work better for startups, and improving QSBS.
Throughout the first half of 2017, NVCA strongly supported the International Entrepreneur Rule, which was put in place during the last days of the Obama Administration. Under the rule, DHS could allow a foreign-born entrepreneur to remain in the U.S. to grow their startup for up to five years if certain conditions were met. NVCA strongly pushed for the Trump Administration to maintain the rule, but unfortunately the administration made the decision to delay the rule, with the intention of rescinding it entirely. In September NVCA joined entrepreneurs and startups in filing a lawsuit against DHS’s delay of the IER on the grounds that the DHS violated the Administrative Procedures Act. A federal judge ruled in NVCA’s favor in our lawsuit against DHS’s delay of the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER). The rule is now in effect for foreign-born entrepreneurs and the government is accepting applications under the rule.
Immigration policy is going to continue to be a major focus for NVCA in 2018. We will continue to defend the IER from further administrative and legal attempts to undue the rule. In addition, NVCA will continue our fight to have a Startup Visa passed into law, as well as supporting other immigration policy issues that impact startups, entrepreneurs and VC investors.
Sexual Harassment and Diversity Initiatives
NVCA made several important steps to address diversity & inclusion (D&I) in the VC industry in 2017. In March, we released model HR policies to assist VC firms and startups in fostering diverse and inclusive cultures. During the summer, as reports of sexual harassment in the VC industry became public, NVCA took action to publicly condemn sexual harassment, solicit input from the industry on recommendation to address harassment, and convene the industry to review recommendations. And in September, NVCA announced our path forward to address sexual harassment in VC through our new VentureForward initiative, which will develop HR policies and best practices and facilitate education and training for the VC industry.
In 2018, NVCA’s VentureForward initiative will release new HR policies and other standards for VC firms and startups to adopt to help them combat sexual harassment, implement reporting mechanisms, and improve D&I within their organizations. VentureForward will also provide education and training through events and materials related to D&I, HR, and harassment to VC firms and startups. In addition, NVCA’s VentureForward initiative will provide thought-leadership on harassment and D&I through the VentureForward blog series, events and other activities.
NVCA advocated throughout 2017 for robust net neutrality rules to allow startups to compete on a level playing field and to provide venture investors the confidence they need to make bold investments in technology and Internet startups. We submitted a comment letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in July advocating for strong net neutrality protections so that startups will be treated fairly in the marketplace as they bring new products and services to the world.
NVCA will be pushing hard for a bi-partisan legislative solution to net neutrality in 2018 that will create a dependable, long-term solution to the issue, which will give confidence to both startups and venture investors.
Industry Education & Best Practices
NVCA provided a number of education opportunities for the VC industry in 2017 through several emerging manager webinars for young VC leaders, two oversubscribed Seed Manager Workshops, and the annual Strategic Operations and Policy Summit (SOPS) for CFOs and strategic operations professionals.
NVCA will continue to focus on education and best practices for the VC industry through webinars, workshops and events, including the annual SOPS event in the fall and our new Stanford/NVCA Symposium Venture Capital Symposium on March 13-14.
Stanford/NVCA VC Symposium: March 13-14, 2018
The Stanford/NVCA Venture Capital Symposium is a new event designed to teach and provide practical guidance for young/emerging VC’s in a rapidly changing marketplace. Learn to respond effectively to new governance challenges at venture capital firms and at portfolio companies. Explore best practices in fund management and limited partner relationships. Examine cutting-edge issues affecting the entire venture industry. Speakers include leading venture capitalists, limited partners, CEOs, regulators, attorneys and scholars. The event is March 13-14 at Stanford Law School. NVCA members get a 10% discount.
2018 Leadership Gala: March 15, 2018
Registration is now open for the NVCA Leadership Gala on March 15, 2018 at the Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park, CA. Now in its second year as a standalone occasion, the Leadership Gala has grown to be NVCA’s premier annual gathering. This must-attend event celebrates the venture industry and honors those who have made significant contributions to foster innovation, advance technology and drive new company formation. Last year’s event sold out quickly and we expect it to sell out again this year. Registration options include tables, half-tables and individual tickets.
4Q 2017 PitchBook/NVCA Venture Monitor Webinar: Analysis & Insights: January 24, 2018
How have record-setting fund sizes impacted the industry? What drove 2017 VC investment to $84B, the highest level since the dot-come era? Find out! Join NVCA, Pitchbook and our partners – Silicon Valley Bank, Perkins Coie and Solium – for a webinar on January 24 at 9:00 a.m. PT/12:00 p.m. ET as we dive into the trends highlighted in our upcoming Venture Monitor report.
Token Sales: Securities Regulations and Risks Webinar: January 19, 2018
Initial coin offerings (ICOs), or token sales, exploded on the investment scene in 2017. In fact, the amount of capital raised by ICOs in 2017 became comparable to the size of traditional venture capital investment in angel and seed rounds. Seasoned and new investors alike must understand the risks associated with this increasingly popular business model. Join NVCA and Perkins Coie as we dive into this topic.
Member Benefit Spotlight: Policy
NVCA members make their voices heard in Washington by advancing public policy that supports the entrepreneurial ecosystem through their dues and involvement in NVCA. All of NVCA’s policy wins in 2017 were supported by our members. NVCA will continue to fight on your behalf in 2018 on issues affecting startups and VC, but as a non-profit, we can only accomplish wins for VCs and entrepreneurs in 2018 with the support of our membership. If you’re a VC that is not an NVCA member, join us to impact policy in 2018. We need YOUR SUPPORT to accomplish more wins for the startup ecosystem in 2018.
Welcome New Members
We want to recognize 10 new venture capital firms that have joined NVCA in Q4. We encourage all of you to invite your peers in VC to join NVCA, or to join if you’re not already a member.
New Members in Q4 2017:
- Astellas Venture Management
- Baker Bros. Advisors
- Breakthrough Energy Ventures
- Forerunner Ventures
- Fosun International
- Huntington Ingalls Industries
- IndusAge Global Capital Managers
- Lumina Impact Fund
- Obvious Ventures