Our Annual Shindig

One of my favorite times of the year is our annual worldwide shindig out at Half Moon Bay. Many of the partners and portfolio CEO’s from all of our offices around the world descend on the Ritz for three days of meetings, outings and discussion.

As you may or may not know, we have a very different venture model from others. We have partners running somewhat autonomous operations in cities across the world, linked together by common infrastructure, incentives and philosophy. One of the closest models would be BCG or McKinsey where each region draws from the resources of other offices, shares a common legacy but have somewhat independent regional operations.

During our golf outing today, I was paired with the managing partners from our Moscow/Ukraine and China operations. Given how horrendously we were doing on the course, we had significant time to talk about global developments in their regions. It really drove home how international our technology market has truly become and what its implications for the US are.

After the outing, I had drinks with my partners and several of their Chinese CEO’s. One of them was born and educated in China, spent time in the Valley and moved back to China where he has launched 16 (I kid you not) companies. He is one of the most prolific “incubators” in the country including having launched the largest mobile search firm (10 million searches per day) and the largest affiliated loyalty firms (13 million members). Another was educated in the US (also born I believe), but had recently moved back to China to launch a new media distribution company. At lunch, I sat with the CEO of SeventyMM which is a hoping to become the Netflix of India. Talent and ideas are moving rapidly across the globe.

We have firms using Russian & Estonian programmers, selling product to Asia and competing with European competitors. New technology models in mobile are popping up in Asia & Europe years before the US and next generation silicon is emerging from China before our Valley brethren can get out of the starting blocks. Interestingly enough, both of the CEO’s above had heard of FeedBurner, located in Chicago, and had several RSS efforts they wanted to potentially work with them on.

Seeing all of these firms interacting and talking is a big rush for me. It reminds me that our world is much more than simply building the best Midwest technology firms but rather about building the best global technology firms. The spoils accrue to the #1 or #2 firms and the rest get table scraps. Without this global perspective, it becomes very difficult to understand this global market.

Our keynote speaker tonight at dinner had a number of very interesting comments about the brewing global competition which I will discuss in an upcoming post.