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VC&PE Conference Brings Industry Leaders to HBS

The 14th Annual Venture Capital and Private Equity Conference held at Harvard Business School on Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

HBS students had the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the great names in venture capital and private equity on Saturday, February 2nd at the 14th Annual VC&PE Conference. More than 400 students walked the halls of Spangler and Aldrich with industry leaders, like keynote speakers Paul Finnegan (Co-CEO of Madison Dearborn Partners, MBA ’82), Sir Ronald Cohen (founder of Apax Partners, MBA), and William Draper (founder of Draper Richards, MBA ’54) to name a few.

Summing up the speakers’ comments, Mr. Finnegan maintained the industry will continue to move forward despite the challenges facing the US economy, noting that alternative investments provide superior returns and were still a small part of the overall capital markets.

Sir Cohen noted that the growth of private equity funds could result in more institutional VC and PE funds, with formalized management and human resource practices. Mr. Draper noted that, despite certain stereotypes of venture capitalists, venture capital still offered tremendous opportunities to match money with inspiration to create new industries in both US and emerging markets.

In addition, more than 60 panelists volunteered their time to discuss over 20 topics, sharing insights on the future of the US economy; growing economies like Brazil, Russia, India, and China; and the future of private equity in a global market. Sometimes offering common sense, others times going against conventional wisdom, all panelists gave attendees their personal insights on these subjects based on their years of experience.

Beyond these insights, several students were also able to connect with many of the invited entrepreneurs. Tiffany Burns (NG) had a chance meeting with Mr. Draper and was impressed by his genuine interest in passing down his 40 plus years of experience. “Very seldom are we able to really get to know a person like Mr. Draper and he genuinely wanted to get to know me. By the end of the evening we knew a lot about each other; I even knew about his eight grandkids and what his wife liked to do.”

Similarly, another attendee engaged in lengthy conversation with George Sigular (founder of Sigular&Guff, MBA). The attendee discovered that Mr. Sigular’s interests include not only managing a $5 billion hedge fund, but also the issues of healthcare and poverty in the United States. Mr. Sigular also espoused his belief that the alternatives industry will remain strong as it takes advantage of market inefficiencies in the US and continued growth in China.

For those students attending, the VC&PE conference offered an opportunity to put faces with some of the biggest names in the industry, build on their HBS network, and discover common interests with titans of the industry.

February 11, 2008
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