Thursday, March 21, 2002

Innovators Evening (a.k.a "a high-tech roast")

It was the moment they'd all been waiting for. The companies had just pitched their ideas to the three VCs on the panel and they were dying to know who won the little competition.

With a microphone in her hand, Starvest Ventures' Jeanne Sullivan announced clearly and distinctly, "the winner is Pet Assure. But there are some things you need to learn. You are the worst CEO we've ever seen. Step aside, get some strategic partners and make it happen."

My, my, my the Goddess of Candor had graced us this evening! Of course, Jeanne added that they "commend your thinking, but you should serve from the side." She should know, after being in the technology revolution for the last 20 years and having seen plenty of plans and hearing plenty of pitches, she knows what's going to sell and who should be selling it.

The runner up for iBreakfast's iNNOVATOR evening competition on Thursday, March 21st was ServeZone. Jeanne continued, "if you're a services company this month-you're 'in' and we think you'll be perfect as a M&A down the road." All finished with their constructive "roasting," moderator Alan Brody took the mic and announced the "winner gets a t-shirt!"

Afterwards, those who didn't get enough networking in yet mingled. I chatted with the other VC-judges idealab! vice chairman Howard Morgan who told me he'd be heading out to Esther Dyson's PC Forum next week and i-Hatch co-founder Chip Austin who had positive business to report. Other presenters I caught up with were ActiveMap's Michael Abramson and David Anthony and Aston Pearl's Natasha Pearl. There were also quite a few Alley old-timers who were onto new ventures. Jack Speilberg (formerly of iSyndicate) is hoping to be one of the channels that brings NttDoCoMO to AOL with NYCJapan. Sanford Cohen is now onto and NYNMA's Ben Goodman is now onto his new venture-Fast Forwards. VantagePoint Venture Partners managing partner Jim Marver was in town and had a chance to catch up with the other VCs in the room. Chip introduced me to IT, Media and Telecom news editor Jonathan Moules and we discovered that the FT had done a big story on investing in Silicon Valley in which Jim was extensively quoted!

Back by the chips and guacamole, in the kitchen, a few folks stood around still chatting and angling for another taste of the Estonian vodka Ston, which was being featured earlier. So after the obligatory sip (!) I made my way from eEmerge's offices on 9th Avenue out onto the cold blustery evening.