It’s a bit late notice, but I just found out myself – I’ll be on Forum with Michael Krasny this morning at 9am PT. I’ll be on with Carl Guardino, president and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and my old friend Sarah Lacy, columnist for Business Week, co-host of Yahoo! Finance’s “TechTicker” and author of “Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0”. We’re going to be discussing the effects of the Financial Crisis on Silicon Valley.
I’m a fan of Michael Krasny – I often listen to the 2-hour long “Forum” show, and I’ve always found him to be articulate, intelligent, and very well educated on the subjects he covers, making great conversation with his guests – so I’m really looking forward to meeting him in person down at the KQED studios. I’ll try to get some photos.
It should be an interesting discussion – especially with the market gyrations in the last 2 weeks, the all-but-closure of the IPO market, and now the tech M&A market, it sure looks like we’re in for a cold winter.
But I think there’s still room for optimism – busts are the perfect time for large companies with cash on their balance sheets to ride things out and gain market share, and also for small agile companies to develop and disrupt industries. I call this the “barbell theory” – where companies at the large and very small end of the scale will do quite well – but the ones in the middle get slaughtered. It’s a time when great talent gets easier to find, rents drop, and it’s easier to be heard above the din. But I’ve got a lot of concern for speculative businesses out there that haven’t found a way to get big and build brand and revenue yet (or even a business model!) and are large enough that they’re burning through cash. I fear that many Valley and “Web 2.0” businesses in the middle of the barbell are going to have a very difficult time in the coming downturn, especially those that are solely advertising based. There’s still an enormous opportunity to create value and build very successful businesses, even in a crisis and downturn like the one we’re going through – I think it is incumbent on forward-thinking entrepreneurs and investors to think creatively about how they:
a) Help businesses save money,
b) Increase efficiency or disintermediation reducing friction,
c) Reduce their own costs, and
d) Diversify their revenue streams
I plan on talking more about that during the show – and I’ll blog about it afterwards. I’m looking forward to the discussion! I sure hope I’m wrong – Here’s hoping for a market upswing!