Tuesday, February 24, 2009

TechCrunch Reply: VCs Shouldn't Only Fly To Emerging Markets...

(Context: TechCrunch saying the US is played out in VC funding.)

First off, allow me to correct one thing, about the confusion between high growth and high tech. Yes, VC funding is about high growth. But more than that, it's about exponential growth triggered by a capital infusion, which is what technology investment is all about: pay money down to write software, and you can sell infinite numbers of copies for only the cost of sale, which is lower (hopefully) than the cost of writing it in the first place. Otherwise, you're in Private Equity land, which is completely different.

But let's take the analogy farther. Why do you think that investment is going into China, India, and Israel? China and India are growing middle classes and have indigenous growth markets, as well as a hinterland (SE Asia for China, Pakistan/Bangladesh for India). What about Israel? That's the one that teaches you something illustrative, because I don't think anybody would really assume that Israel is very well able to effectively do business with its local hinterlands (for a variety of reasons I don't think I need to spell out here).

Israel tells the whole story of why the others are there: lots of skilled engineers who can't/won't migrate to Silicon Valley, and a culture of entrepreneurship.

Hmmmmm.....that sounds familiar..... Oh, wait, now I remember why!

So taking the TechCrunch approach, here's why London is somewhere else you should consider:
  • Growth Industries. Remember, London is able to service as a financial and technology centre all of the expanded EU. You think Romania isn't a potential target for growing in transport, consumer goods, all that?
  • Immigration Issues. Again, London draws from all over the EU already, and we also can't make it to the US.
  • Stable Regulatory/Legal Framework. Okay, so this is a little different than it used to be given regulatory chaos everywhere, but we have an excellent legal framework and strong property rights and laws that understand and can defend against violations of intellectual property.
  • Bonus: You like London. Okay, let's face it. You're a rich VC. London's very very suited to taking money from super-rich people. Why do you think we have so many Arabs and Russians and other assorted billionaires here? Because we're good at providing avenues for you and your significant others to spend money on a regular basis. Bangalore? Not so much from what I hear. [1]
If you're looking at Israel, you should be looking at London.

[1] Yes, I know I'm incredibly oversimplifying. My point here is that London caters to literally hundreds of dollar billionaires on a daily basis; Bangalore, Tel Aviv and Guangzhou don't. They're getting better, but London's been a billionaire plaything (to a point that makes it impossible for those of us not in that level to live well) for at least a hundred years, and it shows. Trust me, you don't want to have those problems.
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