I attended the PE Hub Shindig last night which was organized and led by the well known Dan Primack and sponsored by .406 Ventures, Second Market, Atlas Ventures, Capital Dynamics and Velocity Financial. I had to take a rather circuitous route into Boston because half of the east / west roads around Boston have been flooded out so I showed up a little late.
Given the weather (ie: the 100 year flood) and the general state of the venture market (ie: shrinking funds, shrinking number of VCs, etc.) I wasn’t sure what to expect and I was prepared for a somber mood. What I experienced was quite the opposite. The Bell in Hand, where the event was held, was packed (I was told 3 times I couldn’t go up stairs because the room was at capacity) and I talked with more than a dozen good friends and colleagues across the spectrum of the venture community including entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, venture lenders, investment bankers, journalists and CPAs. Now you could argue that anytime there is free beer being served in the greater Faneuil Hall area there are bound to be numerous attendees, but what really struck me as exciting with regard to the Boston community is that everyone I spoke to was optimistic, excited about what they were working on and planning for growth!
I recognize that a survey of 12 people at a bar gathering is likely not statistically significant, but here are a few anecdotes that I think are cause for excitement
- Todd Link, the CFO of MPM told me he is spending a meaningful amount of time interfacing with Steve Michael at Credit Suisse regarding their numerous public company holdings;
- Jan Hass, President of Velocity Financial told me they are very actively making new lending commitments and he just got a big new capital commitment for his next fund;
- Vinit Nijhawan at Boston University, is leading the BU Tech Transfer and Entrepreneurship effort and has big plans for growth (I didn’t know this but he said BU’s research budget is nearly the same size as MIT’s).
I had another dozen conversations with folks about numerous exits, active strategic acquirers, venture capitalists with multiple termsheets being negotiated and even the burgeoning IPO market. So, I am glad I went, Dan put on a great event and thanks to all the sponsors. What was most refreshing is that I got the distinct feeling that the Boston entrepreneurial and venture community is indeed on the upswing (and that is no joke, this first day of April!)