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The Venture Capital Capital Calamity Thing

Yo, BusinessWeek, the Trouble with VCs is not a new story. And Web 2.0 is not a "legitimately exciting frontier". Nevertheless, it is good fun reading this wildly bearish piece about the venture capital business. It touches on some legit issues, and will get attention. The VC industry is at a crossroads, no question, but things also look way worse than they are if you look at the VC biz solely through an IT lens.

It's not that venture firms are destitute. They've got plenty of base hits. But the home runs are increasingly elusive. And venture capital is a home-run business, where the top 10% firms make up nearly 80% of the returns.

Internally, many investors are worried that only a handful of firms will break even on the current crop of funds, much less post stellar returns. In hushed conversations over breakfasts at Buck's and lunches at the Sundeck, VC veterans are wondering aloud whether they should get out, or, after years of playing boardroom quarterback, whether they've still got the chops to actually build a startup.

However you slice it, unless something changes, venture capital is in for upheaval. Some venture capitalists are going to find themselves out of a job. Overall, the industry may become more the font of outsourced research and development for big firms and less the breeding ground for the next great tech powerhouse. And returns will be lackluster for the majority of firms left out of the best deals.

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Dr. Kedrosky is currently the Executive Director of the William J. von Liebig Center in San Diego, California. Using an innovative seed capital program, the Center catalyzes the commercialization of technologies from the internationally-ranked University of California, San Diego. Dr. Kedrosky is also a venture investor with Ventures West, Canada's largest institutional venture capital firm, where he is most active in consumer technologies and software. He is currently on the board of Marqui Corporation, a marketing automation software company.
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