With funds raising larger and larger rounds, the economics of cutting smaller checks for seed stage companies get more and more lopsided. And that leaves a gap for the youngest and most vulnerable of companies. That’s why it’s always nice to see folks raising funds specifically targeted at early stage companies. Like Seven Peaks just did.
The thing I love most about ecosystems is that as things change—and gaps are introduced—the community works to fill those gaps and take advantage of those opportunities. So when former Angels and Seed Funds begin to mature and move downstream with their check sizes and portfolio companies, it opens up opportunities for new funds. Like Coast to Crest Fund. And now, the Willamette Angels W2 Fund.
This year has been a great year for funding for Portland startups. What’s more, it’s been a year where local investors have felt comfortable beginning to participate in some of that funding.
[HTML1]There comes a time—not often mind you—but there comes a time when even I—admittedly often naively optimistic in my cheerleading of the Portland startup scene—have to admit that something just isn’t right. This is one of those times.
Over the weekend, Mike Rogoway at The Oregonian published an overview piece on the new Portland Seed Fund, a project designed to help provide funding for bootstrapping startups to get their legs under them. It’s not Mike’s piece with which I have trouble. I was happy to see it. That with which I have trouble is the Portland Seed Fund comparing its program to Y Combinator, an incubator and mentoring program for tech startups. Read More
Talk to practically any Oregon entrepreneur about angel investors and venture capital and you’ll get a luke warm reception—at best. But is that response simply perception and assumption or is it reality? I ask because the Oregon Angel Fund just gave us three million little reasons for taking another look at the Oregon angel scene.
With all the talk about the Oregon Investment Fund (OIF) and the new $100 million entrepreneurial fund that Nedspace and Harvey Mathews are trying to start, I have found myself with a unique—and completely unexpected—opportunity: I get the chance to chat with the folks at CreditSuisse who are in charge of managing the OIF, Friday morning.
For those of you not familiar with the OIF, it was a fund established by the state of Oregon in 2004 to reinvest a portion of the Oregon Public Employee Retirement Fund (OPERF) in Oregon and Pacific Northwest businesses—to the tune of $158 million in potential investment.
Or, according to the OIF:
In 2004, the Oregon Legislature passed HB 3613 that allowed the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund (“OPERF”) to develop a fund-of-funds strategy specifically to take advantage of the private equity opportunities in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest (“PNW”). Managed by CFIG, the Oregon Investment Fund (“OIF”) commits capital to private equity and venture capital funds (“Underlying Funds”) that will, in turn, invest in companies located in the State of Oregon as well as the PNW.
Comprised of combined commitments of $150mm from OPERF ($100mm in Fund 1 and $50mm in Fund 1A) and approximately $8mm by CreditSuisse ($5mm in Fund 1 and $3mm in Fund 1A), the $158mm, return oriented program seeks to build successful, innovative enterprises for the benefit of its investors by:
- Fostering the creation and growth of young and maturing companies in Oregon and the PNW
- Encouraging the development and growth of a vibrant Oregon and PNW private equity community
- Facilitating public and private partnerships within the State of Oregon
And one of the areas in which CreditSuisse has authority to invest? That’s right, you guessed it: high tech.
The high tech industry represents more than 50 percent of Oregon’s economic output and includes leading semiconductor manufacturers as well as makers of computer components. Semiconductor companies with operations in Oregon include, Intel, ESI and TriQuint, among others. These companies make up 10 percent of the annual semiconductor production in the U.S. Oregon’s computer component companies include digital projector manufacturers, electronic design automation leaders and liquid crystal display (“LCD”) makers. InFocus, Mentor Graphics, Planar Systems and Hewlett-Packard are among the corporations who represent the State’s computer components sector. Each of these companies presents a breeding ground for creative innovation to spur the development of new businesses and a growth economy.
Yeah, I hear you. I don’t see much about open source, Web applications, or Mobile development, either. And “InFocus, Mentor Graphics, Planar Systems and Hewlett-Packard… [presenting] a breeding ground for creative innovation to spur the development of new businesses and a growth economy”? Seriously?
Now, as anyone who has read Silicon Florist can attest, I’m not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer. So this is where you come in. (See? Dangling preposition. I repeat: not sharp.)
I realize it’s terribly short notice. But I was wondering if I could get some of your input?
What would you like to ask CreditSuisse about the OIF?
Please feel free to comment or ping me on Twitter. I’ll do my best to ask your questions along with my own.
And rest assured, that once I’m done with the interview, I’ll no doubt blather on about it here, as per usual.
Thanks in advance for your assistance.