Nov 28 2007

Silicon Flatirons Roundtables

I sponsor a roundtable series titled The Silicon Flatirons Roundtable on Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Public Policy.  It is hosted four times a year by The Silicon Flatirons Program at CU Boulder and is modeled after the Union Square Ventures Sessions.   We pick a topic and then get 30 or so smart and diverse thinkers in a room to kick the topic around for two hours.  Phil Weiser (Professor of Law and Executive Director of Silicon Flatirons) moderates and someone always takes extensive notes and writes up a summary paper.

The paper from the first roundtable – The Unintended Consequences of Sarbanes-Oxley (2/26/07) – are up.  We did this early in the year when the private equity boom was cranking and there are some juicy gems buried in the summary, including this one that seems prescient (or obvious) in hindsight.

"The roundtable’s discussion on private equity focused on private equity’s ever-increasing growth and whether such growth is, in fact, sustainable. Feld noted the similarity between this increase in growth and that of the VC industry before the bubble burst.  Webroot’s Pace also addressed this point and noted that private equity deals are continuing to grow in both number and value. On this point, Feld noted there is a certain irony in these deals because the companies are traded from one firm to another, but the limited partners often remain the same. The discussion of private equity concluded with the point that, to some extent, the private equity market’s success is contingent on the credit markets. Thus, the concern, as Feld explained, is that if the credit markets tighten, private equity firms’ returns will decrease while cost of capital to these companies will increase, and overleveraged firms may see a sharp reduction in their equity value."

Our second roundtable was held in on 4/20/07 and the paper Rethinking Software Patents is also up on the web.  I thought this was a much more contentious session as there were several clearly different opinions represented in the room.  Pamela Samuelson – a professor at UC Berkeley School of Information and Boalt Hall School of Law – made the trip to Boulder and did an excellent job of kicking things off and getting the hornets buzzing around the "should there be software patents" nest.

The third roundtable – The Entrepreneurial University – was held a few months ago.  I’ll get a link up to the paper when it’s out.