Larry Schwartz, Ed Keating and David Silverman did an excellent job putting together this year's edition of SIIA Previews. Bambi Francisco, formerly of MarketWatch, now CEO of Vator.TV, moderated the opening panel on the Business & Investment Climate. Panelists were Robert Levitan, CEO of Pando; Brian Hirsch an MD at Greenhill SAVP; David Silverman of PwC; and Ed Reitler a partner at Reitler Brown & Rosenblatt. Highlights of this panel:
Bambi mentioned two trends she sees in the market - the prominence of angel networks (taking the place of VCs) and the "mediaization" of CEOs. In other words, CEOs are increasingly using blogs to talk to their stakeholders and customers. Ed Reitler commented that start-up companies and the VC communities are somewhat separated from current economic conditions. Brian Hirsch said that the business climate in irrelevant to innovation. Great companies can be started in terrible economic times; only valuations will be affected. Robert Levitan and David Silverman commented that VCs want "known" business models as well as a revenue stream and, if possible, profits. (I found this difficult to accept; it seems that some of the most interesting businesses, especially with the risk-reward characteristics desired by VCs, do not have established business models when they're funded.)
The most interesting new business presentations were Linkstorm, which is a new advertising technology company and Courtroom Connect which provides digital video coverage of major trials and depositions. The main SIIA event is Wednesday and Thursday.