Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Venture Downtown Back in Midtown

One of NYNMA's big events of the year recently hit the calendars of most connected new media and technology networkers. The big day arrived this week, on Tuesday, May 15th. The one-day conference, held at the New York Hyatt above Grand Central, started off with a power breakfast sponsored by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Covington & Burling. After a hearty cup of "cawfee," attendees heard from such select companies as the eon company, Droplet Inc., Capital Thinking, CommerceHub and MobileMetrics, Inc. Cookies and caffeine at the next break gave guests enough of a jolt to pay attention during presentations by companies like TurboGenomics, Alphion Corp and The Book Report Network. Interactive Futures dropped a pretty penny on an extravagant and lovely lunch with many-a-offerings at the buffet. Between the kebobs, sushi and salads, there was barely room to sample each of the scrumptious desserts (but I tried!). Interactive Futures CEO Steve Shaer spoke eloquently before the panel, "The VC Cavalry is Coming: Are They Headed in Your Direction?" CNN Financial News Financial Editor Myron Kandel moderated the esteemed panelists: Patricof & Co. Ventures Founder Alan Patricof, RRE Ventures General Partner James Robinson and Flatiron Partners Managing Partner Fred Wilson. Patricof was the most verbose, and Wilson was the least. Was it perhaps due to a recent NY Times article that included the public announcement of the closing of Patricof & Co.'s offices? The company is moving in with sugar daddy and main supporter JP Morgan Chase.

In any case, many people stayed for the next set of presentations by Xanboo, Wasabi, ClickRadio and Audium. That led into the next meaty part of the day - the cocktail reception. With another extravagant display of food, chafing dishes and hors d'oeuvres, more than the usual suspects came to network. Of course, if you read this week's social note, my interest in talking to a good many of them was quelled by the shocking lack of manners on the buffet line.

I did, however, chat a bit with AnyInstructions.com EVP Robert O'Connell, VP Michael Miville and recent "import" Ricardo Porto. Geoportals.com Founder and CEO Thomas Gilbert told me they'll be profitable by Fall. 3Path.com CEO Brian Smiga told me he just hired two killer pros - CTO Laird Popkin (former CTO of Sotheby's and NewsCorp) and VP Marketing Yvette DeBow (who was Jupiter's VP of research and client services). He figures that Yvette's job at Jupiter prepared her well to market to researchers, which is 3Path.com's market.

Soliloquy's CTO Mark Lucente said that the day was a showcase of what attendees learned in business school - build a "real business." Clickradio's David Benjamin was pleased with the wonderful opportunity to present - due in part due to their unique market position. Clickradio SVP, Business Development & Strategic Planning Ben Hartman and VP Kathryn Kercher were also pleased with the results of the day. Private investor Ralph McElvenny, Virtual Growth's Ron Kustal and a few others were enjoying table side chats with views of the Chrysler Building. GasPedal Ventures' Andy Sernovitz and Dmitry Zabarko, Pillsbury Winthrop Attorneys Donovan Burke, Emily Campbell and Ronald Fleming, and groups of trios throughout the space indicated that many involved conversations were going on. I also met NYC Economic Development Corp Special Advisor for Strategic Alliances Matthew Cohen, Venture Architect Linda Lewis and Chicago-based Vcapital Laurence Hayward. They all seemed pleased with the day's activities and companies. Between the "real businesses" being presented, the power meals and the networking, NYNMA presented yet another successful round for its 5th Venture Downtown.