Posts Tagged ‘Kauffman Foundation’

Startups: Job Creation Engines (Are You Listening Obama?)

November 16, 2009

In this week’s issue of BusinessWeek, we published the inaugural list of “The World’s Most Intriguing New Companies.” I am thrilled that we launched the package right as Global Entrepreneurship Week kicks off, taking place Nov. 16-22, in 85 nations.

In my lead story for the package, “Fertile Ground for Startups,” I made two big points:
1. Startups are playing an increasingly important role in American business
2. Startups may play a central role in any recovery.

There was one startling new study, based on 2007 Census data, I was unable to work into the story that I want to highlight now, which provides some empirical evidence supporting the second point.

According to a new study by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which was co-written by the respected economist Robert Litan, companies less than five years old generated nearly two-third of the net new jobs created in the U.S. in 2007. Without these startups, “net job creation for the American economy would be negative in all but a handful of years.”

The upshot: It is clear more than ever that new companies and the entrepreneurs that lead them are the engines of job creation and economic recovery.

It is well known within economic circles that new companies produce the majority of new jobs in the U.S. economy. What this reports reveals for the first time is extent of that trend, and the fact that startups play a particularly important role in growing jobs out of a recession. New companies have produced all of the net new jobs in the U.S. from 2001-2007, and also from 1980-1983, the last big American downturn, according to the study.

Read the rest of the BusinesssWeek blog post here and also see an embedded link of the report.

Reinventing Venture Capital

June 10, 2009

Today, Paul Kedrosky released a report, “Right-Sizing the Venture Capital Industry,” as part of his work as Senior Fellow at the Kauffman Foundation.

Now, I couldn’t agree more that the venture capital industry needs to reinvent itself. That was the theme of my recent feature in BusinessWeek, Super Angels Shake up Venture Capital. But I was a little surprised by the way that Kedrosky goes out of his way to diss the venture capital industry’s role in nurturing innovation, even though I know the Kauffman Foundation has a bit of an anti-VC bent.

“The industry has become conflated with entrepreneurship in the popular imagination as well as in policy circles, with the result being a widespread and incorrect belief that venture capital is a necessary and sufficient condition in driving growth entrepreneurship,” writes Kedrosky.

Kedrosky’s big data point? Of the 900 companies on the Inc. 500 list between 1997 and 2007, he reports that only 16% received venture capital backing. It’s an interesting data point. But to then argue that “venture capital and entrepreneurship are separate phenomena,” as Kedrosky does, seems like an overstatement to me.

Obviously, most new companies do not require venture capital but the ones that do need it play a hugely important role in the economy because they tend to be the ones that grow the biggest and create the most value. Think Google, which got a $25 million injection of venture capital at a key moment in its evolution. Without that money Google might have never become Google. There are many examples like this.

The rest of the report tries to figure out why venture capital performance has been poor lately and suggests how the industry will reshape itself. The upshot? The industry must shrink, perhaps in half in the coming years.

I basically agree that the industry needs to shrink. That’s pretty much what I argued in my super angels feature. The industry has an inversion problem: Fund sizes have gotten bigger while the capital needs of companies have shrunk. $500,000 is the new $5 million, as Mike Maples said in my story.

Will it shrink in half? Maybe. Maybe not. All I know is that it will get smaller and that’s a good thing for industry and for the economy. An excess of capital ends up wasting money and the scarce time of entrepreneurs to create great companies.

The more important issue to me is that the industry needs to develop new models to finance and nurture innovation that fit today’s capital-constrained economy. Super angels will be part of the answer but it won’t solve the whole VC problem.

My colleague Mike Mandel blogged about this issue, making the point that science-oriented VC requires more money and a longer time frame to come to fruition. I think he’s right. And I’ve heard many VCs who invest in clean tech make this point.

Another big issue: Without an IPO market, there needs to be a new type of capital market that helps young companies finance their growth once they graduate beyond venture capital.