After a decade bereft of IPOs, venture-backed tech companies have come roaring back into the public markets over the last couple of years. But in case you think this means we’re in a bubble, some of these companies — including Zynga, Groupon and Facebook — have struggled in their market debuts.
So how are top investors handling the opportunities and pitfalls of taking top companies public in the current era? How are they changing their strategies to prepare the next generation of startups for big exits? You’ll be hearing all the details at Disrupt SF during our panel with leading VCs on Wednesday, September 12. Here are some of the things we’ll touch on… (and get your tickets here!)
First, Wall Street does indeed love some tech companies. ServiceNow is up nearly 200% from its opening price early last month. Palo Alto Networks has risen nearly 20% since its late July IPO. Both, however, are “unsexy” businesses — IT cloud management services and network security.
Luckily enough, Sequoia was in both deals. So is its success in enterprise causing it to move away from other areas? Sequoia Partner Alfred Lin comes from the e-commerce world, having just finished a big stint at Zappos, and he’s investing in more e-commerce startups like Humble Bundle these days. Lin will be on stage to explain what he’s most excited about now.
LinkedIn is perhaps the most consumer-facing tech company of this generation that’s above its opening price in IPO. Having gone public more than a year ago, its shares have since gained over 12% on the strength of revenue growth in areas like recruiting services. Greylock, which is chock-full of former LinkedIn execs, is certainly not getting out of consumer, though.
Along with Kleiner and other top VCs, it has put money into private mobile social app Path. James Slavet, the Greylock partner joining us on the panel, has been focused on consumer tech for years — with exits ranging from DoubleClick to Farecast, Kongregate and more.
Meanwhile, as top VCs are finally getting the big exits they’ve been aiming for all these years, they’re also transforming themselves to adapt to the broader startup world. They’re hiring more public relations people, they’re becoming more transparent, and they’re going further out of their way to invest in early-stage companies. They’re becoming full-service operations, in other words, for startups of any size.
Longtime Kleiner partner Aileen Lee, for example, has just started a new fund that will be focused on seed-stage investments. David Lee of SV Angel is now leading Silicon Valley’s formative angel firm, expanding in a big way to other markets like New York City in order to find the next generation of top talent.
And, Bill Maris, the managing partner at Google Ventures, will talk about his firm’s view of the world as an ambitious independent entity that still has strong connections to its corporate parent.
Founder, Cowboy Ventures
Aileen Lee is founder of a seed-stage focused fund currently called Cowboy Ventures, announced in July 2012. She is also a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which she joined in 1999. She focuses on working with consumer-oriented digital companies. Aileen has worked closely with the teams at companies such as ShopKick, Zazzle, Bloom Energy, Miasole, Blue Nile (NASDAQ: Nile), Friendster (acquired by MOL Global), Good Technology (acquired by MOT), Tellme (acquired by MSFT). She currently works with companies including Callaway Digital Arts, Dollar Shave Club, One Kings Lane, Plum District, Rent the Runway, True & Company, and RMG Networks (formerly Danoo), where she was founding CEO for two years.
Prior to joining KPCB, Aileen worked at Gap Inc. in various operating roles. She has also worked for Odwalla and for The North Face in brand and product marketing. Aileen began her career at Morgan Stanley in technology mergers & acquisitions.
She has a Bachelor of Science from MIT and an MBA from the Harvard Business School, and is a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute.
Managing Member, SV Angel
David Lee is the Managing Member at SV Angel, where Ron Conway is a Special Partner. SV Angel focuses its investments on early-stage consumer media companies.
He focuses on investments within the consumer Internet, mobile, video and other IT industries. Prior to SV Angel, he was at Google, where he led new business development efforts in video, media and content/data partnerships. After Google, he led all business development-related efforts for StumbleUpon.
Recently he was a partner at Baseline Ventures and also an attorney at Morrison and Foerster representing high-tech companies in commercial transactions. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins, NYU (JD) and Stanford (MSEE), where he was a National Science Foundation Graduate fellow. He is an individual investor in Square, WePay, Chomp and EQAL; an adviser at ScanScout, SocialDeck (acq. by Google) and Rupture (acq. by EA); and was on the board of directors of BookFresh (acq. by Sugar Inc.).
Venture Capitalist, Sequoia Capital
Alfred is a venture capitalist at Sequoia Capital. He currently sits on the board of Humble Bundle and Stella & Dot and works with consumer Internet, enterprise and mobile companies.
Previously, Alfred was Chairman and COO/CFO at Zappos. He joined Zappos in 2005 and was responsible for all financial, administrative, and warehouse operations. Alfred focused on bringing focus, strategy and financial discipline in order to grow the business efficiently and profitably. Prior to joining Zappos, Alfred served as VP of Finance and Business Development at Tellme Networks, helping grow that business from no revenue to over $120M in recurring revenue per year, 30% cash margins and a $0.5B estimated contracted revenue backlog.
Prior to joining Tellme Networks, Alfred co-founded Venture Frogs with Tony Hsieh. Venture Frogs is an incubator and investment firm that backed Internet startups, including Ask Jeeves, Tellme Networks, and of course, Zappos.com. Prior to Venture Frogs, Alfred served as VP of Finance and Administration at LinkExchange, where he managed the sale of the Company to Microsoft for $265M. Alfred met Tony Hsieh (Zappos CEO) in college, when Tony was running a pizza business and Alfred was his #1 customer.
Managing Partner, Google Ventures
Bill is the Managing Partner of Google Ventures, and brings with him a combination of technical expertise and hands on start-up experience, including founding Web hosting pioneer Burlee.com (now part of Web.com), where he built much of the key computing, network and technological infrastructure.
Prior to that, Bill was a biotechnology and healthcare portfolio manager for Stockholm, Sweden-based Investor AB. Bill’s background also includes research at the Duke University Medical Center, Department of Neurobiology.
Bill received his degree in Neuroscience with honors from Middlebury College, and is based in Mountain View, CA.
James Slavet is a partner at Greylock. His primary areas of investment focus are e-commerce, online advertising, and Web-enabled consumer services. James’ investments include Auditude, Groupon, High Gear Media, One Kings Lane, Redfin, Revision3 and TellApart.
He previously represented Greylock in its investments in Farecast (acquired by Microsoft) and Kongregate (acquired by Gamestop). His complete profile can be found at LinkedIn here.
[Bubble traffic photo via Alexia.]