We spent Tuesday at 500 Startups' PreMoney conference in San Francisco and discovered, among other things, that the person who planned the event has very good taste in chocolate chip cookies. Below is a rundown of insights and quotes from nearly every panel at the investor-focused conference.
Check out our notebook, leading with two Midas List investors with very different thoughts on the future of VC investment in healthcare, by clicking here.
5:35 p.m. -- A hot take to conclude the day: "Operating experience is way overrated." - Chris Douvos of Venture Investment Associates on founders that become VCs.
5:20 p.m. -- At the LP panel, Elizabeth "Beezer" Clarkson of Sapphire Ventures gives a shout-out to PitchBook while discussing the consistency of small VC funds. "I quickly pulled some numbers, thank you PitchBook, looking at sub-$100 million funds. ... I was shocked to see this, and I think it's pretty consistent; about 100 sub-$100 million funds are formed each year. ... The market seems to have a stable appetite for this fund creation."
4:40 p.m. -- "Anything you can make autonomous will become autonomous in the future." - Vijay Reddy of Intel Capital sums up one of the main reasons for investing in self-driving car technology.
4:15 p.m. -- Investors discuss one of the hot topics in venture capital: China.
Is it more difficult for China-based firms to get access to deals in the US? Phil Chen of @HorizonsHK says no, it's actually easier to get in on a deal, but much more difficult to lead a round.
4:00 p.m. -- Floodgate partner Iris Choi, Initialized Partners partner Jen Wolf and Greylock Partners growth advisor Casey Winters are on stage talking about the portfolio services they provide as VCs. "Regardless of whether the services are making a major impact on the companies, we see them as a benefit because we work side by side with the founders. ... When it comes time to decide whether we're going to put money in them or suggest them to other VCs, we have a lot more insight into them," Wolf says.
3:00 p.m. -- Ankit Jain, founding partner of Gradient Ventures, Google's AI-focused investment arm, discusses what's next for the industry:
"So far, #AI has been about understanding the world around us, but one of the next waves of AI technology is going to be about adding to the world around us," -@jain_ankit, founding partner of Gradient Ventures. #PreMoneySF
2:30 p.m. -- On stage, two investors and a founder discuss the impact of data on choosing portfolio companies and building them. Somewhat surprisingly, personality type is one of the data pieces investors consider. "Empathy alone isn't statistically significant, but when paired with other traits it's a predictor of success," says Amr Shady, co-founder and CEO of AiNgel Corp. "Empathy plus high emotion, for example, is a predictor of success."
2:00 p.m. -- The cryptocurrency panel is talking about the prevalence of bitcoin:
1:35 p.m. -- Back from lunch, where we had incredible chocolate chip cookies (solid dessert choice, 500 Startups). To kick off a panel on bitcoin and blockchain, the moderator asks everyone in the audience to raise a hand if they own anything crypto-related. More than half the hands in the room go up.
11:50 a.m. -- Risa Stack of GE Ventures, Stephanie Palmeri of Uncork Capital and Maryam Haque of the NVCA discuss diversity in the tech and VC industry. Palmeri and Stack agree that it's informal support networks made up of other women that have helped them most in their careers.
11:35 a.m. -- While introducing a panel called "Inclusive Investing," the moderator tells the audience that about half of today's speakers are female, which elicited a cheer.
11:15 a.m. -- To IPO or not to IPO? Noah Goodhart, the founder of Moat, and Cheryl Cheng, a partner at Blue Run Ventures, discuss the question. Goodhart: "You have to go back to, what's the point of the IPO? Is it the liquidity of investors? Is it raising money for the company?"
10:50 a.m. -- Cyan Banister of Founders Fund is on stage. One of the many topics she touches on is her desire to end ageism in venture capital investing. "I think we need to expand our thinking. ... We have 30 under 30, 20 under 20, but where's the 60 over 60? .... Entrepreneurs come in all forms. They come young and old," she says.
10:20 a.m. -- Aydin Senkut on failure:
.@asenkut says he passed on @Airbnb in 2008. He still has the email from @bchesky and plans to frame it. "Failure is going to happen. You're going to get things wrong."
9:45 a.m. -- Christine Tsai sits down with Rebecca Lynn of Canvas Ventures and Aydin Senkut of Felicis Ventures to talk about what's coming in 2018. A major point of discussion is international investing. Senkut says that global companies have been incredibly important for his firm: Its first IPO was from a company out of Ottawa, its most valuable company is Dutch and its fastest-growing company is Australian.
9:30 a.m. -- Mark Suster of Upfront Ventures is the first speaker of the day. He touches on many of the big VC trends of the year, from AI to blockchain to SoftBank's $100 billion Vision Fund. One takeaway: "I predict that over-funding and the new capital moving into the market will likely depress returns."
9:15 a.m. -- 500 Startups founding partner Christine Tsai welcomes the crowd with a quick speech about how venture capitalists have the opportunity to shape diversity in the tech industry with their investment decisions: "We should really realize that this talent isn't limited to one gender, one race, one pedigree..."
8:45 a.m. -- We're here at the conference! 500 Startups has provided hearty breakfast sandwiches and a well-stocked coffee and tea bar to sustain everyone through what's sure to be an intense & interesting day.