When I boarded my flight for San Francisco to attend VentureScape 2014, I was brimming with excitement, anticipation and, yes, I’ll admit, a little nervousness. Despite having had the privilege of speaking with and meeting hundreds folks in the venture community during my first nine months with NVCA, this was going to be my first opportunity as President & CEO to gather with everyone at the industry’s premier annual gathering.
Alongside outgoing NVCA Chairman Josh Green, current NVCA Chairman Scott Sandell, VentureScape 2014 Chairman Venky Ganesan and many other active board members, we worked to create a dynamic, productive and high-impact event that would live up to expectations. This was a tall order knowing how successful last year’s event was with the re-brand and re-launch of the NVCA annual meeting to bring us what we now know as VentureScape.
Two weeks removed from the event, I am proud to say that we were able to build on the strong precedent set for VentureScape last year by bringing together over 700 VCs, LPs, entrepreneurs and innovators, and even debuted a couple of “firsts” for the event this year. Together, we had the opportunity to address some of the most urgent challenges facing the venture capital industry.
VentureScape kicked off with a full day of Deep Dive sessions focused on a diverse array of topics, including the first-ever session focused on limited partners. The Women in Venture Capital session served as another first for VentureScape and provided an opportunity for the entire venture community to discuss the urgent need to recruit more women into the industry.
After the Deep Dives wrapped up, we again hosted entrepreneurs and VCs at Office Hours 2.0 for an afternoon of mentorship and exchange of ideas in a collaborative environment. This year, over 60 investors and 150 entrepreneurs from 20 states and Canada came together for the event, which was generously sponsored by Proskauer, Qualcomm, Citrix, GE Ventures, Citi Ventures, IBM Venture Capital Group and American Airlines.
After Hours at The Exploratorium in the heart of San Francisco’s Embarcadero District capped off the first day of VentureScape and was an incredible opportunity to connect venture capitalists and entrepreneurs while enjoying unparalleled food, great entertainment by those in our industry and breathtaking views of San Francisco Bay.
During the second day we assembled an all-star lineup of innovators, industry leaders and disrupters who challenged, informed and inspired us. We brought together a world class panel to examine the core issues we face concerning cybersecurity; we convened two marquee names, Peter Thiel and Jeff Immelt, for a wide-ranging discussion of innovation; NVCA Chairman and NEA’s Scott Sandell hosted a conversation with Aneel Bhusri, Chairman, co-Founder and co-CEO at Workday; Dr. Condoleezza Rice delivered a thought-provoking keynote address; Vivek Wadhwa and Kara Swisher shed light on how we can improve the diversity of people in the venture industry; Amanda Boxtel showed how she is bridging the gap between high tech and the human spirit; and Bruce Mehlman and David Castagnetti provided top-tier political intelligence.
Looking back, we set out to create VentureScape 2014 with the intent of opening the doors to all of the key players in the innovation economy. On that mark, I believe we were successful. If you were able to join us this year, I thank you for coming. If you weren’t able to make it this year, I really encourage you to attend next year.