In this week’s Social Scene, Diva of Distressed Lynn Tilton goes to war with Forbes, Ethernet inventor/VC Bob Metcalfe settles into his fifth career, new NVCA Chairman Paul Maeder explains “bubblet,” Founders Fund’s Sean Parker takes himself off the market, Garage Technology Ventures’ Bill Reichert is three days away from his birthday, and lots more.
OUT & ABOUT
Venture capitalists turned out in full force for this year’s annual meeting of the National Venture Capital Association in Boston. My colleague Joanna Glasner was there and shared some of her observations — including the significance of the line for the women’s bathroom — yesterday. Here are more of Joanna’s musings:
Happy Birthday to Venture (and Bob Metcalfe)… Bob Metcalfe turned 65 yesterday -– and he wasn’t afraid afraid to tell everyone. The Ethernet inventor, 3Com founder, Polaris Venture Partners partner and, most recently professor of innovation at the University of Texas at Austin, announced the milestone to a mostly VC audience of several hundred.
He noted that he shared the same birthday as the venture capital industry, which — according to some historians — was born as a professional activity in 1946 with the formation of American Research and Development in Boston by Harvard Business School professor General Georges Doriot. In honor of the industry turning 65, Metcalfe led the crowd in an only vaguely on-key rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
Green Is Out, Blue Is In… One would think Kate Mitchell would have had enough to do last year, juggling a job as managing director at Scale Venture Partners with a post as chair of the National Venture Capital Association. But Mitchell still found time for a pet project beyond her official duties at the NVCA — changing the association’s logo.
The old logo (four green squares with the letters N-V-C-A carved out) had served for decades. But Mitchell says she couldn’t stand that shade of green, and wanted something a little modern and more descriptive of what the association does. The logo is blue and white and has a tagline.
Not sure what to think of it at first, but it kind of grows on you, especially that giant N. Looks kind of hockey stick graph, interrupted for a bad business cycle in the middle. Or some sort of modern art.
It’s Not a Pyramid Scheme, It’s a Bubblet… Paul Maeder managed to inject something new into the ongoing debate over whether we’re facing another Internet bubble. The Highland Capital GP and incoming NVCA chair coined a new term for the current cycle: A “bubblet.”
What’s the definition? Apparently, it’s an irrational spike in valuations driven by a small portion of investors. This is distinct from a bubble, in which irrationality is more widespread.
“In a bubble, everyone takes leave of their senses,” he said. In the current cycle, “there will be some adjustments.” Overall, he said, “it’s more of bubblet.”
LOOK WHO’S TWEETING
Potty humor… Gregory T. Huang (@gthuang ), editor of Xconomy Boston: “Only at a VC conference: huge line for men’s room, none for women’s. #vc65 #sad”
Déjà vu all over again … Peter Wagner (@peter_wagner), venture development partner at Accel Partners: “Back at #SGI in early 90’s we battled #Sun from twin campuses in Mtn View and Menlo Prk. Now it’s #Facebook vs #Google in those same HQ’s”
Mr. T experience … Mark Peter Davis (@markpeterdavis), entrepreneur and former VC with DFJ Gotham Ventures: “Just watched a guy with a Mr. T neck full of gold chains look perplexed that metal detector was going off at airport #mankindisdoomed”
Spring is in the air … Chris Redlitz (@ChrisRedlitz), partner at Transmedia Capital: “Finished the first phase of planting: squash, tomatoes, peppers, beans and greens #organicgarden”
Just saying … Phineas Barnes (@phineasb), principal at First Round Capital: “You cannot call it a ‘pivot’ if you never established a clear direction in the first place #justsaying”
Easy to please … James D. Robinson (@jdrive), managing partner at RRE Ventures: “any party with pigs n blankets is a party for me…”
Just getting warmed up … Bob Metcalfe (@bobmetcalfe), partner at Polaris Venture Partners: “Yesterday I turned 65, traditional age of retirement. Instead, I’m into 4th month of 5th 10-year career. Thanks for good wishes. Onward!”
THE ULTRARICH CLUB
Here’s your weekly report on the super rich, brought to you by my colleague Connie Loizos. Got a tip? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s almost official … Sorry, interested parties, but billionaire entrepreneur-turned-VC Sean Parker is off the market, having proposed to his singer-songwriter girlfriend Alexandra Lenas, his representative confirmed earlier this week.
According to People magazine, Parker, who was portrayed by Justin Timberlake in “The Social Network,” has been dating Lenas for for six months. We knew it was going to last when last fall they showed up at Heidi Klum’s Halloween party dressed up as Timberlake and Britney Spears.
More spring romance… Internet media mogul Jay Penske, the CEO of the digital media company MMC, which owns Nikki Finke’s Deadline.com and movieline.com among other popular sites, is also feeling love in the air. According to the New York Post, he’s now dating former supermodel Elaine Irwin, the soon-to-be-ex-wife of aging rocker John Mellencamp. Is it the real deal? A “source” tells the Post, “[I]t is still early days.”
Driving in L.A. is bad, but… Relativity Media chief Ryan Kavanaugh, the movie financier who at age 22 opened his own venture capital fund (and shuttered it four years later), will not be landing his helicopter atop an L.A. Sofitel hotel any longer.
Neighborhood residents, fed up with his noisy commute in from his Malibu home, discovered the hotel’s landing pad was for emergency use only and filed a complaint with city officials, who’ve put a stop to all the baby waking and window rattling. Said one neighbor to the L.A. Times, “We didn’t move next to an airport; we moved next to a hotel.”
Rolling in the deep … Underscoring for the umpteenth time that he’s really not like the rest of us, billionaire Richard Branson announced earlier this week that in addition to space exploration, he’s now planning to pioneer a new frontier: the bottom of the ocean. Unveiling an 18-foot, white-and-blue, deep-sea submarine, Branson said that he and pal, Orange County businessman Chris Welsh, will take turns piloting the thing.
Welsh will go first (naturally); he’s heading to the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench, more than 36,000 feet under the sea, in the next few months. After that, “either” Welsh or Branson will pilot the sub to four trenches in the world’s other oceans, according to the L.A. Times. “We’ll discover a whole new world,” Branson said. Hopefully, he won’t lose his pal in the process.
Diva alert! The “diva of distressed,” ostensible billionaire and fame addict Lynn Tilton, was royally skewered by Forbes this week over the course of a half dozen posts that describe her as “terrifying,” “evil” and [a] “tyrannical” boss prone to rage, who once seized a male executive by the collar, dragged him to a mirror to ask what he saw in his reflection and then unleashed a string of expletives.” We can’t vouch for the accuracy of the reporting, but it’s a great read.
Here’s part of Tilton’s response: “I don’t deny that I have a unique and, at times, aggressive personality that sometimes rubs people the wrong way. Nor do I deny that sometimes I am very direct and demanding with employees and occasionally use colorful language. There are a number of other CEOs who are respected and revered for those same traits. What I do categorically deny and take great issue with are allegations and insinuations that I or my company ever conducts business without absolute integrity.”
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO …
Lucy P. Marcus, founder and CEO of Marcus Venture Consulting Ltd. and chair of Mobius Life Sciences Fund. (Today, April 8.)
Bill Reichert, managing director at Garage Technology Ventures. (Monday, April 11.)
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