AltAssets has just featured this article from HEC Alumnus Cyril Demaria concerning the current state of Venture Capital. Cyril makes some excellent points including the fact that the duration that a VC firm holds onto a portfolio company before an exit now stands at 8.6 years despite a typical fund lifespan of 10-12 years. With an increasing number of firms focusing on Cleantech that 8.6 year figure looks to rise giving a further impression that the VC business is becoming too institutionalized for it’s own good.
KKR has just announced that HEC alumnus Makram Azar (H.1990) will be joining the firm as Managing Director and Head of Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Makram will develop the distribution of KKR products in the MENA region and source opportunities for private equity and infrastructure transactions in selected situations. Additionally, he will explore co-investment opportunities with MENA institutions. Congratulations!
Sitting here on a soggy evening in the Bassin d’Arcachon (one of my favorite places in the world) with not much more to pass the time then by playing card games with family and friends while listening to vintage REM and drinking wine, I got to thinking that it’s been almost one month since I launched this blog. My intent was for this little site to be directed towards the club, it’s student members, and the alumni of HEC Paris, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the response I’ve had from people from all over the world.
As this is my first go at blogging I’m still trying to figure out how to go about it. As time goes by I’ll get more accustomed to widgets and the various methods with which to increase readership, but that will come in September when I return to class after the holidays. Hopefully the information I’ve posted is useful. Part of the reason for the blog is that I’ve been told by too many people that they need more information about the private equity industry and I honestly think there’s no excuse for that considering the wealth of info available. So as I figure this blogging thing out I’ll try to keep improving the site. Be patient and keep reading!
Ok, so this isn’t related to either private equity or venture capital, but it’s news for all of my fellow HEC MBA students. David Chipperfield Architects of the UK have won the design competition held by the Paris Chamber of Commerce for the new HEC MBA building. The building is part of the school’s planned campus expansion and will have 9,000 sq meters of space and is set to open in September of 2010 (unfortunately it’s long after I and my fellow classmates are gone this December).
It’s great to see the school not resting on it’s laurels of being the FT’s number one school in Europe and trying to make a better campus for the students with improved facilities. I only wished they had asked for greater student input in the planning (I’m a fan of architecture and design so I would have loved to have been involved!). Here’s hoping the school stays aggressive in trying to maintain and build upon it’s excellent reputation.
Over the course of this past academic year I’ve encountered several people (my fellow HEC students included) that have indicated that they feel that they are qualified to be VC’s based on the fact that they’ve been entrepreneurs. To this I respond with a resounding “HUH?!?”
Now, some of the finest VC’s I’ve ever met have come from the entrepreneur-turned-venture capitalist track of career planning. However, the former does not necessarily guarantee success in the later. A great VC must be a good investor above all else. Many successful entrepreneurs simply do not have the ability to distinguish a great new idea, technology, what have you, with one that can obtain serious exit results.
I’d also like to add this little service announcement to everyone reading: There are entrepreneurs, and there are entrepreneurs. This is particularly aimed at those of my classmates who seem to have some misguided notions of what types of entrepreneurial experiences really attract recruiters in the PE/VC space. Let me use a couple of examples (names and certain elements have been changed to protect the innocent and their egos):
John: I really want to work in private equity. I’m only looking at PE groups within bulge brackets ibanks. I’ve had my own business so I think they’ll really like me.
Me: Oh, you were an entrepreneur? What type of business did you start? How was the exit? Were you VC backed?
John: *looking confused* Exit? What’s an exit? I ran a three person travel agency franchise for my dad.
Me: Oh..um…ok. Good luck with the ibanks then!
Hans: I’m doing great in my MBA classes and I started my own business so being a VC will be easy!
Me: What was your business?
Hans: I used to perform repairs on people’s bikes.
Me: It was just you?
Hans: Yeah. I was doing that for the past year.
Me: So how about the Euro Cup?
The point being (I know, I said this before but I’ll repeat it because business school students often need things to be repeated to them) that there are entrepreneurs, and there are entrepreneurs. Having an entrepreneurial spirit is a fantastic attribute and is something that Europe needs more of, but there is a considerable difference between the attractiveness of a tech entrepreneur who’s dealt with venture capitalists and gone through a successful exit as compared to someone who ran a local McDonalds franchise when it comes to getting a job as a VC.
I think the effect of being in a business school can often cause delusions of grandeur in certain people, causing them to overestimate their expected place in the world immediately post-graduation. Everyone coming out of b-school tends to have this sense of entitlement to the type and level of job they’re expecting. If the guy who ran the travel agency is serious about working in buyouts then he needs to formulate a five-year plan to achieve that goal. Maybe his best foot in the door is via advisory services? Maybe it’s through something else? Either way he’s going to have to work long and hard at it. So to all the MBA’s and M.Sc’s: You got (or are getting) your degree. Great. Have a celebratory drink, pat yourself on the back and get on with building your career!