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Venture Summit offers insights, elicits gasps

July 15, 2013

 

Gwynne Shotwell just might work for the coolest company on the planet - or as she puts it "In 10 years or so, it might be the coolest company on another planet." Shotwell is talking about SpaceX, the company where she serves as president and COO. Even the most sophisticated in the audience at San Diego Venture Group’s July 12 Venture Summit gasped at the video of SpaceX rockets being tested that blast off and then return to the launch pad. “Grasshopper” is a 10-story Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing (VTVL) vehicle that SpaceX designed to enable a rocket to return to earth. The ultimate destination? Mars – which Shotwell described as a “fixer-upper planet.” Her humorous and very informative talk left everyone thinking about the power of dreaming big.

Dave Titus, San Diego Venture Group’s president gave a “Venture Status Update” that included both good news and sobering news. Venture fundraising has dropped over the last five years even though the number of firms has stayed about the same. Active funds are down 20 percent in the last five years and the first half of 2013 looks to be following this trend. The industry is consolidating – the top 20 firms raise 55 percent of all the dollars with an average fund size of $400 million. The remaining firms have an average fund size of $41 million.

One surprising statistic shows that since 2008, venture investing has surpassed venture raised, resulting in deficit spending. Titus cited some reasons that could account for the discrepancy – imprecise data, investment coming from non-traditional funds (family offices, foreign investors, hedge funds) and the rise of corporate venture capital. Corporate venture has increased 50 percent in the last three years but seems to be leveling off. On the local front, Qualcomm Ventures is the second largest technology corporate venture fund in the world, exceeded only by Intel.

According to Titus, financings will be harder – he told the entrepreneurs in the audience to plan for that reality and practice, practice, practice your pitch! As for the good news: exits are up with 21 venture-backed IPOs in the second quarter of 2013 and 11 biotech IPOs.

Citing sectors like enterprise software and hardware, Titus told the 600-plus attendees “Hard things are popular again and San Diego is good at hard things.”

 

 


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