On June 9, I’ll be stopping by the annual Launch: Silicon Valley event at the Microsoft campus in Mountain View . The gathering is co-sponsored by Microsoft, Garage Technology Ventures, and the Silicon Valley Association of Startup Entrepreneurs (or SVASE).
The gathering is usually a good opportunity to take the pulse of the entrepreneurial community. In advance, I spoke with SVASE President and CEO Chris Gill to get his thoughts about the state of Silicon Valley during the downturn.
On the plus side, Gill noted that while venture capital investments have cratered, the number of submissions from companies wanting to present at Launch were up 40 percent. “It’s an indication that worldwide, Silicon Valley is still seen as a place you have to be,” Gill said.
Gill also said the SVASE just created a new job board on its site, and it already has 2,300 job listings from the start-up community. And SVASE membership has also increased over the past year, as the economy has slowed.
So what’s going on? Are these bullish signs that the valley is back?
Gill said in part, during slow economic times, people are ramping up their networking efforts. Also, the venture capital industry is changing as the financial piece of the region’s innovation engine adapts to the world with little or no IPOs for tech.
Some venture firms are shifting more energy to funding later rounds, while at the same time, more angel investors seem to be emerging, Gill said. But as the landscape changes, entrepreneurs seem to be attending more events to try to learn and educate themselves about these changing trends.
Gill’s view is that angel investors are becoming a growing force in the innovation economy. Big VC firms are looking for big hits and big returns, which are fewer and farther between these days. Angels, on the other hand, can fund much smaller efforts and make returns that seem huge to them, but might seem puny to a larger venture partnership.
Going forward, smaller might really be better, Gill said.