IESE Meets The Valley day 1: Human limitations and silver bullets

As you might know I am leading a trip of 25 MBA students to Silicon Valley and today we had our first of 5 days here. I must say it was beyond my expectations. We met with Asset management, Cisco, and had a VC dinner with 5 VCs from different firms.

 Human limitations

At Cisco we were welcomed with a really nice lunch at their Executive Briefing center which is located below their CEO’s office. We began the visit with an interactive discussion led by Ian Temple. Ian discussed the development and future of IT in higher education with the group. He shared the possibilities that Cisco’s technology creates. Subsequently we toured their Executive Briefing Center. We closed our visit with demos of amazing technology. I had already heard of Cisco’s Telepresence conferencing technology and was (and still am) somewhat of a skeptic. However talking to my classmates through the technology changed that! The image was so crystal clear and the sound so lifelike that it was like sitting in the same room. Cisco also demo-ed many other products dealing with conferencing, like Webex. I can sum up my learning in the fact that technology in this area is no longer the limiting factor to what can be done. The limiting factor now are human limitations. With the kind of technology I saw today, the challenge will be to change people’s behavior and conventions. The things we will do with them will only be limited by our human imagination.

Our group at Cisco

Our group at Cisco

Silver bullets

In the morning, we met up with Asset management. Then in the evening we met with 5 VCs from different firms. So we had a lot of exposure to the VC world today. I learned several interesting things today.

First, the success rate amongst VC’s is much higher than I thought: 3 out of 10 are great successes, 3-4 are decent or break even but most surprising: only 2-3 fail instead of the 9 I always thought. Perhaps this is specific for the fund we visited.

Second, I learned about small investments. I asked one VC if his firm also invests in wild cards; companies that need a very small investment and have a high risk. Normally the partners of the firm would have to agree on these kinds of investments, so they would usually not agree and not invest. This VC however, had a different plan. He would like to give the partners 1 or 2 “silver bullets” every year. These would be 100K investments that they could make on their own without the agreements of all the partners. If they would meet someone they would just be able to make a commitment on the spot. So perhaps the VC industry is changing, or perhaps it’s just this partner’s firm. All I know is that some VCs like Silver bullets ;-).

The Board room at Asset Management

The Board room at Asset Management

The VC Dinner

The VC Dinner