It’s often said that 9/11 changed everything. No doubt, the horrible events of that awful day altered life in America and the world forever. Ten years later, it’s a question worth asking, even if there is no simple answer: What’s changed since then?
VCJ contributor Tom Stein asked that question of several VCs, including Dixon Doll of DCM, Matt Howard of Norwest Venture Partners and David Hornick of August Capital, among several others on both coasts.
For Washington, D.C.-based John Backus of New Atlantic Partners, what changed after 9/11 was his understanding of how government works and how new legislation can impact venture investing. Before 9/11, he paid little attention to what went on in political circles. After 9/11 he became a policy junkie.
“I saw this drumbeat of the Patriot Act and legislation around things like energy independence and immigration,” he tells VCJ. “These policies had the potential to affect big industry. And any time there are big changes coming, it creates opportunity.”
For Michael Greeley, a general partner at Flybridge Capital Partners, 9/11 was a life-changing experiencing, as it was for many others. Greeley says that he lost his best friend from business school in one of the Towers.
“It was a profoundly introspective time for me,” recalls Greeley. “You realize that life is so fragile, but you also realize that every day you are here is a gift.”
He was determined to follow his dreams and not waste another minute of his life. A week later, on Sept. 19, he quit his job as a VC with Polaris Venture Partners and set about creating his own venture firm from the ground up.
“I was scratching my head over starting my own fund for several months and I really think it was 9/11 that put me over the top,” Greeley tells VCJ. “I had just had this devastatingly personal experience. I was happy at Polaris, but life is so short. I had to go for it.”
For more stories from Greeley and other VCs, including Chris Ehrlich of InterWest Partners, Gerry Langeler of OVP Venture Partners and Mark Siegel of Menlo Ventures, VCJ subscribers can click here for the full story, which came out today in the September 2011 issue.
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And if you want to talk more about the venture industry in the 10 years since 9/11, send an email to Alastair Goldfisher at [email protected].