Monday, June 30, 2008

Musicians & Dancers of South Asia

Oscar Pistorius: Let the man run !

Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius is known as the "Blade Runner" and holds the world record for paralympic sports in 100, 200 and 400 m races. The ban on the use of "devices" for running was overturned, and he was allowed to compete. Should Oscar quality for South Africa, it will be one of the most important moments in the Beijing Olympics, raising a whole host of questions.

Medical devices are already making us part bionic part human. Although we are a long way away from the Hollywood's potrayal of bionic human beings, Oscar's struggle to race against able-bodied men is the beginning of a turning point in medical history.

It is important to note that an MIT Professor conducted significant testing to prove that these feet don't give him any technical superiority. This topic will be the subject of many debates, but eventually it will be replaced with the inevitability and presence of bionics in the world around us.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Norway and 1% of the European Capital Markets!

Norway's sovereign fund (The Government Pension Fund of Norway) reportely has holdings in 7000 companies representing more than $350 billion in investments.

This extraordinary country of 5 million people now holds 1% by value of European Capital Markets. Norway is fortunate to be the world's third largest exporter of oil and gas, with large reserves in the North Sea.

There's much more that remains untapped. Norway is estimated to have 7.7 billion in oil reserves. At $200 a barrel, that's $1.5 trillion in value - equal to the entire global hedge fund industry. This may not be a large amount yet since global capital markets are valued at $150 trillion. However, as sovereign funds balloon to $20 trillion thanks mostly to oil, it would be interesting to see how sovereign funds impact global capital markets.

Lets hope large sums of oil money are spent on technologies we need to protect our own futures - life sciences, nanotechnology, energy, and hopefully donated towards programs that support the world's poorest. After all, oil-rich nations and world's poorest are both largely accidents mostly of geography.

Biopharmaceuticals: Are the Japanese coming ?

Back in the 1980s, the media reacted hysterically as Japanese companies bought up real estate and invested in assets in the USA. After a long hiatus, they're starting to make some big moves that have certainly piqued my interest.

It started with MGI's $3.9 billion acquisition by Eisai in December 2007. Then Millenium Pharmaceuticals ($8 billion sale) and Alnylam ($1 billion agreement) both inked deals in early 2008 with Takeda. This month, Ranbaxy's family sold their entire stake to Daiichi for $4.6 billion.

I'm going to try to find out what's going on.

Where are VC exits headed

There were no venture-backed IPOs in the 2nd Quarter of 2008, the first time in a very long time that this has happened. Since IPOs typically provide the highest valuations, and our industry raises $25 billion a year, this is definitely a disturbing data point. CardioNet was the last company to go out on March 19. The last time we had a quarter-long IPO drought was from December 2002 to March 2003. We've had twelve companies back off going public. Of the six that got out, four were in healthcare.

The good news is that biotech is enjoying a robust M&A market. Several companies have been acquired at excellent valuations.

The Leadership Program Workshop: School's Out!

Saturday was a day of learning. It was the last day that the Class of 2008 of The Leadership Program, a program I started two years ago. Click here to learn more about this program. The day started early (8AM) but it was a rich day providing hard skills to the young and very talented Senior Associates in the program.

Here's what the day looked like:

How do I start a company: An hour with NSR, co-founder of M-Cube and a new mobile mCommerce company

Financial Modeling: An hour learning about intricacies of the valuation, cap table, liquidation preferences, revenue build-ups, P&L, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow statements.

Entrepreneurial Leadership - Lessons from the trenches on building and leading an entrepreneurial team. Pravin Chaturvedi, serial biotech investor and phenomenal mentor talked about his experiences.

1 minute Elevator Pitch: 12 senior associates pitched a range of ideas. The winning pitch was Rajit Kamal about inexpensive overseas insurance.

Fundable Business Plans: Roger Walton of Castile Ventures gave good practical advice on what to do and not to do at the VC pitch.

Term Sheet Basics and Negotiating a deal: Three top lawyers took the senior associates through term sheet negotiations and preparing one's company to receive venture capital

Investor Pitches: 4 senior associates completed 10 minute pitches. Hooman Hodjat of iRelai won the first prize for the best pitch.

Vinit Nijhawan (Former Chairman of TiE Boston and Serial Entrepreneur), Al Kapoor (President of TiE Boston and Managing Partner of Millenium Ventures) and Pravin Chaturvedi (Serial Entrepreneur and President of Napo Pharmaceuticals) provided two hours of detailed individal feedback on all 1-minute pitches and presentations.

An extraordinary day !

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bob Langer wins the Millenium Technology Prize 2008

Bob Langer of MIT wins the Millenium Technology Prize of 2008. This short video captures some of his work. An extraordinary inventor, Bob Langer has created the field of drug delivery systems using biomaterials. The Millenium Technology Prize instituted in 2006, is given by several institutions in Finland, and is considered equivalent to the Nobel for Technology.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Future of American Power: The Rise of the Rest

Read a great article by Fareed Zakaria in Foreign Affairs. Zakharia talks about Britain's rise, peak on June 22, 1897 and the eventual decline of the country's influence as an economic power. The article explains why the US will not emulate Britain's decline. Instead, R&D spending, nanotechnology, life sciences, college education, creativity, entrepreneurship and an incredible ability to attract, accept and assimilate the rest of the world will allow us to muddle through. An outstanding read I recommend to everyone. Click here to read the article.