For French Cleantechies: CleanTuesday

May 15, 2009

For all those involved or interested in Cleantech in France, be sure to check out the networking group CleanTuesday. They held their first event back in December and seem to be doing well. I have much respect for anyone who tries to improve the ecosystem of innovation in Europe. Bravo!


Kevin Delbridge of HarbourVest on Venture Capital Fund-of-Funds

May 13, 2009

Here’s an audio interview from Red Herring with Kevin Delbridge, Senior Managing Partner at HarbourVest on Venture Capital and the problems facing VC Fund-of-Funds.

Upside to interview: Good insight on the changing face of Venture, how problems with endowments is helping FoF’s, the current buyers market, and how big he thinks the industry should be.

Downside to interview: Good luck trying to pay attention to the annoying computer voice! It doesn’t have the same charm as WOPR from WarGames.

What Types of Innovation and Invention Might Attract Funding Dollars in the Downturn?

May 12, 2009

So it’s a pretty weighted question, but it’s exactly what BusinessWeek asked the much hyped YouNoodle (quick note: the site’s startup predictor, which uses an algorithm to predict how much your startup could be worth in three years, is a bit of a gimmick to draw people in, but the site has some interesting content like it’s YouNoodle Scores, which is a metric set up with Sean Gourley to quantify a startup’s “buzz”, as well as nice community features) to try and find out.  We all know the NVCA numbers that showed VC investment for Q1 of this year at a 12 year low, down 47% in dollar amounts from the previous quarter.  

Survey says: YouNoodle tracked 149 venture capital deals worth $1.55 billion among the 53,000 startups it follows (most of which are serious, some only serious in the entrepreneur’s head). Of this dollar amount, 26% was invested in biotech and medical devices; 16.5% in energy and cleantech; 14.3% in consumer Internet; 11.4% in hardware (including semiconductors, gadgets, and PC-related goods); 11.2% in finance; 6.2% in software; and the remaining 14% spread across four other categories such as mobile phones and education, each with less than 6%. The data also showed that most of the funding was later stage and Series B with 34% and 33% respectively, suggesting that VCs are taking a cautious approach at the moment by investing in more proven concepts.

These sector breakdowns by investment show the continued resiliency of biotech as it continues to hold up a bit better than other areas. The article points out that it’s taken 10 years for increased U.S. government grants to the sciences to start to bear commrecially viable fruit. Expect a dose of the same with world government’s increase in cleantech funding.  

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What to Expect From a Placement Agent

May 9, 2009

With all the noise coming out of New York concerning it’s pension fund scandal and it’s subsequent repurcussions, it may be useful to review what fund managers should expect from placement agents. From the 2nd edition of the Definitive Guide to Private Equity Fundraising, here’s Kelly DePonte of Probitas Partners on the very subject:

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The Federal Reserve’s Bank Stress Test Results

May 7, 2009

Here are the much anticipated (and more than likely useless) results from the Fed’s stress test of U.S. banks. Whew, disaster averted!

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Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity: 1996-2008

May 7, 2009

The Kauffman Foundation has just released it’s Index of Entrepreneurial Activity for 1996-2008. The document was prepared by Robert W. Fairlie of the University of California, Santa Cruz. It’s a fantastic source of information on entrepreneurship in the U.S. (rather unsurprisngly, a byproduct of the recesion is that the number of entrepreneurs is rising).

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Q1 2009 European Venture Capital Investment Drops 35%

May 6, 2009

With the U.S. and the NVCA grabbing a lot of the VC headlines lately, it’s time to pay a little attention to Venture Capital in Europe. Europe saw 170 deals garner $1.18 billion (€906 million) in the first quarter, down 35% from the €1.40 billion that went into 281 deals during the same period in 2008.  This marks the lowest deal count for Europe since VentureSource began reporting on the region in 2000. However, it’s important to note that the 35% decline is comparatively better than how other parts of the world faired in Q1 VC investment (the U.S., China and Israel saw drops of 50%, 58%, and 75% respectively). Europe now accounts for 21% of worldwide venture investment.

Europe’s information technology (IT) industry is being hit the hardest during the current downturn. IT saw €277 million invested in 82 deals in Q1, down 44% from the €492 million put into 129 such deals last year and the industry’s worst quarter on record. Within IT, the information services sector fared better than most as it accounted for 46% of all IT investment in the quarter with €127 million and 28 deals, which is down 16% from the year-ago period but on par with investment levels the sector has seen over the last two years. 

Investment in the European health care industry outpaced that of IT in the first quarter as venture capitalists put €311 million into 42 health care deals. Even so, this marks a 39% decline from the first quarter of 2008 when there were 70 deals worth €513 million. And for the first time since 2005, Europe’s venture investment in the energy and utilities industry outpaced that of the U.S. and was the only area to see investment actually increase, up 82% to €221 million in 10 deals from €122 million in 18 deals a year ago. This growth was due to a large round raised by NorSun of Oslo, Norway, which landed €147 million in first-round financing.

In France, investors put €117 million in 43 deals, down 41% from €198 million in 53 deals a year ago. In the UK, venture investment fell 58% from €562 million invested in 98 deals last year to €234 million in 50 deals during the most recent quarter.  This marks the country’s lowest deal count on record.

Also, while average deal size fell in every other part of the world it actually went up in Europe (much of this is influenced by the NorSun deal and the bigger piece of the pie that energy investments took) with the median size of a venture capital deal ticking up over 8% to €3 million from €2.8 million.