Recent blog posts
The 2008 UK Budget may have been a modest affair, but published with it were two documents with probably greater implications for the long-term performance of the innovation sector in the UK.
Many of you reading through the coverage of Alistair Darling’s first Budget, delivered on 12th March 2008, may have been reminded of Claud Cockburn’s famous (spoof?) entry for the prize of most dull but accurate headline: ‘Small Earthquake in Chile, Not Many Dead’.
The Story so Far
Earlier this week we looked at how the sub-prime fall-out is impacting on growth businesses and we noted how reminiscent today’s market woes are of the dot.com bust. I suggested that the rebirth of Internet commerce as Web 2.0 provides a hopeful parallel for the current market uncertainty. The really interesting aspect of Web 2.0 is ‘the long tail’. And what’s more, not only did the long tail ‘save’ the Internet, it might even be the way out the perennial funding gap experienced by promising young firms.
The Long Tail
I was invited to deliver a talk last week on Financing for Companies in the Current Climate. The subject is timely as many of the things we might have taken for granted over the past decade or so are no longer as certain as they used to be. And so deep-seated is the gloom in financial markets that investors have become like Aunt Ada Doom in the classic 1930s satirical novel Cold Comfort Farm, who became reclusive and miserly after seeing ‘something nasty in the woodshed’ as a girl.
What WAS in the Woodshed?
What are the keys to success in creating a social networking website? The contrasting histories of Google and Facebook may provide some clues.
In a departure from normal practice, today’s blog is a Christmas Special looking at how popular culture – such as Ben Elton’s latest novel Blind Faith - can help us understand the phenomenon of social networking and community websites.
Why Should the Devil Have All the Best Tunes?
Venture investment agreements which once gave institutional investors a wide range of cumulative, preferred, participating rights went out of favour in the dot.com boom. As a result a number of investments made during that period persist as the ‘living dead’ – still solvent but unlikely to grow much beyond the life-style stage. Given how limited venture funds are in the UK, this is a waste. Investors must negotiate investment agreements that give them an activist role.
The Cold War is Back
Over the past 20 years, the image of entrepreneurs in the UK has been transformed from dubious middleman to innovative hero. But geeks still do not receive the respect they deserve: how can they gain the same status in Britain as in America?
Another New Black
Yesterday’s seminar on how to improve entrepreneurship and innovation in the UK did not produce any unexpected policy recommendations. But it did throw up one idea that I found both novel and revealing.
In our break-out group (an entity that rarely inspires, I know) when we were reviewing how the overall climate has improved in recent years, an extremely successful entrepreneur turned business angel suddenly came up with the following insight into how geeks – his word - are perceived.
Why do people go to business school? After all, the more MBAs there are, the weaker the competitive advantage conferred. Numerous management critics have questioned the value of the MBA in the first place. Courses are expensive and arduous, and price is no guarantee of quality. Do business schools help or hinder entrepreneurship?
Nostalgia Isn’t What it Used to Be
The Cambridge Enterprise Conference is 10 years old. Its brief history provides some insight into how entrepreneurship has changed since the mid-1990s. The CEC is all the better for having returned to its roots. But beware events that make ‘networking’ mandatory: all you will get out them is a pocketful of business cards you throw away.
Origins of the Enterprise Conference
I normally resist personal reminiscence as being no more than the chick lit of the blogosphere. But…this was the week of the 8th Cambridge Enterprise Conference and I can’t resist a short trot through the melting snows of yesteryear.
Part 1 of this review of how private equity managers are rewarded covered fee income and carried interests. Today we cover the impact of tax, especially taper relief for capital gains and the impact of leverage.
Taxation 1: Carried Interests
Now for an attempt to explain why the taxation of PE transactions has occasioned wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Some of you may remember the riposte of the fire-and-brimstone preacher to the elderly parishioner who protested that she has lost all of hers: 'Teeth will be provided.')
Britain Forty Years On