Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Both You And Your Job Have Been Moved to India

A few weeks ago, I noted in a quick blog post that IBM has a new method of outsourcing -- not only are they moving the job overseas, they are also moving the people.

That is, IBM is apparently accepting volunteers to move to India and other emerging growth countries. But (as always) there are catches: 1) if you do not volunteer there is a decent chance your job will be outsourced anyway (but without you); and 2) you will be paid the prevailing local wages (although IBM is apparently offering "financial assistance to offset moving costs, ... immigration support, such as visa assistance, and other support to help ease the transition of an international move.")

When I initially heard about the program, I have to admit I was skeptical as to whether it would appeal to IBM employees. However, the other day I had coffee with an ex-IBM guy that still has many friends at big blue. His (admittedly anecdotally based) opinion is that many of the eligible IBM employees look at this offer as a great opportunity. Typically, the employees interested in accepting this offer are natives of the countries that they would return to -- and they still have extensive family and business networks in place. Further, I am told that the "prevailing local wage" is actually quite comfortable and often provides for a superior standard of living to that affordable in the States (assuming standard of living is measured in things like having a gated building, a driver and a housekeeper. Having been to India multiple times, I might have different personal benchmarks.) So I guess my skepticism is unwarranted -- and honestly, the more I think about it, the more I can see the appeal.

The only remaining question is what to call this program -- outsourcing squared? Reverse outsourcing? I'm open to suggestions.

सौभाग्य Click Here to Read More..

Monday, April 20, 2009

Homeless Guy Says, "I'm a PC"

Unless you have been living in a box, you have probably come across Microsoft's new "Laptop Hunters" ads -- where Microsoft gives folks cash and tells them to go find a computer they like. And, coincidentally, they always pick a PC. These ads, along with Apple's "I'm a Mac" ads have been especially prevalent during this weekend's NBA playoff games.

Anyway, I got a kick out of this send up of the Laptop Hunter ads which features a homeless guy. My favorite line is when he says about the PC: "I'm poor, but I'm not retarded. These computers suck." Enjoy!

(More original blog postings coming soon).

Click Here to Read More..

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

4 Bits of Advice for a Biotech Start-Up

The biotech industry is not for the faint of heart -- especially in an early stage or start-up company. Time frames are long, costs are extraordinarily high and there is no guaranty of success. All of these risks are magnified in today's rarefied air of non-existent IPO markets and schizophrenic M&A exit opportunities.

Dow Jones recently hosted a webinar advising small biotech companies on how to navigate these treacherous waters. In his recent blog post on the WSJ Venture Dispatch, Jonathan Matsey mentions four nuggets of advice from this webinar and gives some good additional gloss. Below are summaries of the 4 points and some of my own thoughts -- please see Jonathan's original blog for his full color.

1. Think globally. It is often possible to generate revenues internationally long before the United States FDA has approved your drug/device. I have seen clients find additional revenues in the more traditional European markets as well as the emerging Asian markets.

2. Partner up -- but make sure you don't give away the keys to the car. Depending on the strength of your vision and the potential of your product, carefully consider the terms of your out licenses and any associated rights of first offer or first refusal you give to your partners. This is a tightrope that can be tricky to walk -- the immediate fix of revenues versus the long term potential of your product -- and negotiating a partnership with the big boys will require some thorough introspection.

3. Nurture your champions. Once you have a partnership with big pharma/big device/VCs make sure you develop and nurture internal champions that understand your research/product and are willing to go to bat for you. Keep them in the loop. If it makes sense, get them involved in your advisory board or even your actual board. Let them carry the ball for you by making them feel like part of your team -- that means they need to know the play call!

4. Get your name out there. The only way you will find partners and capital is for them to know who you are. In complex fields such as biotech, where sometimes even your own employees don't entirely understand what you do (other than the lead scientists and/or founders, of course), you have to self promote. Go to the important trade fairs. Present where possible. Have a presence at forums/symposiums. Get involved in your local bio group. No one can invest in you or partner with you if they don't know who you are.

Come to think of it -- these bits of advice are equally valid to any start-up company, no matter the sector. Click Here to Read More..

Thursday, April 2, 2009

How to Fail: 25 Secrets Learned Through Failure

I recently came across this fantastic post by Taylor Davidson on his blog, Unstructured Ventures. In it he lists 25 different mistakes he has made, the lesson that can be learned from each and an illumination of each lesson based on context and examples. It is a great read full of intelligent advice.

Note: if the text in the slide presentation below is too small -- try either clicking on the link at the top of the presentation or click here to view it in pdf format.

Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Angel Investing in 2008: Numbers Even/Dollars Down

Everyone knows that 2008 was a bad year for public equities and for most sectors of venture capital investment (see my earlier blog post here). But how was 2008 for angel financing?

According to this report from the Center for Venture Research, while the dollar value of angel investments contracted 26.2% in 2008, the total number of investments remained relatively stable with only a 2.9% decrease from 2007.

The net effect of these two trends is that the average deal size for angel investments fell by 24%. Angels were still doing deals in 2008, but they were committing smaller amounts of capital.

The report breaks out angel investments by sector and notes that healthcare/medical devices represented 16% of angel investments in 2008, followed by software at 13%, retail at 12% (including web retail), biotech at 11%, industrial/energy at 8% (including cleantech) and media at 7% (including social media).

The report has lots of other interesting statistics, but one final one that jumped out at me is the following -- angel investors invested in only 10% of all investment opportunities brought to their attention in 2008. This is down from 23% in 2005. Clearly, not only are angels investing less, but they are being more picky. A possible positive spin on this statistic is that, since the number of investments has remained constant, this must mean that many more people are looking for angel capital -- a sure sign that we are experiencing an innovation renaissance. Click Here to Read More..
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Dividends and Preferences by Hank Heyming is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.