The 2003 Annual Venture Capital and Private Equity conference held on February 1st, 2003 was a big success. The conference featured about 100 thought leaders from the venture capital and private equity industry, distinguished practitioners, and faculty from Harvard Business School and MIT. Nearly 400 students and outside registrants were in attendance.
The conference featured three tracks of panel discussions. The Private Equity track covered such topics as financial sponsors, real estate, specialist v. generalist funds, mega- v. middle-market, and European investing. The Venture Capital and Sector Focused Investing track featured the communications sector, software, biotechnology and medical devices, and the varying models for technology investing – hedge funds, early stage, late stage, buyouts, etc. Finally, the Industry and Career track included two special sessions on finding a job in private equity and a day in the life of a private equity associate.
The day was highlighted by three premier keynote speakers. Jeff Walker, the Managing Partner of JPMorgan Partners began the day with an overview of venture capital and private equity industries. Mr. Walker noted the excess amount of capital in these asset classes and anticipated a continued shake-out over the next several years. With that as the context, Mr. Walker continues to believe that both venture capital and private equity are great long term businesses which will always have a place in the portfolios of limited partners. Please read our exclusive interview with Mr. Walker in this issue of The Harbus.
Stephen Schwarzman, CEO and Co-Founder of the Blackstone Group, gave his address during lunch at the Meredith Room in Spangler. Mr. Schwarzman echoed the main theme of last year’s keynote speaker, Warren Buffett, as he re-iterated to the packed house that the best way to make money is not to lose it. He went on to describe Blackstone’s business model and how it has remained prudent since its inception in 1985, even through the boom of the Internet years. Mr. Schwarzman also encouraged the group of future investors to stay on top of national and international political issues as they greatly impact the financial world on a day-to-day-basis.
Finally, Tim Draper, Founder and Managing Director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, closed out the day with an address in Burden Auditorium. Mr. Draper gave the attendees his thoughts on what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and hence what he looks for in his investments.
Mr. Draper continues to be bullish on the venture capital industry despite the bust of the past few years. According to Mr. Draper, technology developments of the past decade have allowed entrepreneurial endeavors to succeed anywhere, not just in Boston and Silicon Valley.
To capitalize on that shift, his firm has established a network of affiliate funds across the US and internationally to help identify and support DFJ’s increasingly global investment perspective.
All in all, the day was extremely interesting and informative. While the mood was not as upbeat as that of prior conferences, the conference provided a great perspective on the industry and offered insight on how to crack into the business after graduation. Special thanks go to the conference directors, Chris Bardon, Des Lovell, Kate Hartwell, and Dan O’Keefe, as well as all of the other conference volunteers that made the 2003 Venture Capital and Private Equity Conference a tremendous success.