Archive for the ‘business’ Category

by Erick Schonfeld

Last week, something turned. We found out that not only are we in a recession, but it started a year ago. Tech layoffs went into overdrive (12,000 at AT&T, 600 at Adobe, 130 at Real Networks), bringing the total unemployed tech workforce to at least 90,000, by our count.

Even Facebook decided to indefinitely postpone an earlier plan to allow employees to sell some stockprivately. One likely consideration in Facebook’s about-face is that outside investors may no longer be willing to buy Facebook stock at the already-lowered $4 billion internal valuation the plan called for, never mind the over-inflated $15 billion that Microsoft got in at last year.

Capital is drying up, and things may still get worse before they get better. So far in this downturn, we’ve seen startups batten down the hatches (as they should) and hope to survive long enough to make it out the other end.

But what about venture capital firms? When will we start to see the VC layoffs and fund closures?

It is already happening to some extent. The number of partners listed on some VC Websites is already quietly shrinking. Some new VC funds are having difficulty raising money and even existing funds are running into problems collecting commitments from strapped limited partners.

The carnage on Wall Street is having a trickle-down effect on venture capital firms. The limited partners who typically invest in VC funds—university endowments, pension funds, investment banks, other institutions, and wealthy individuals—are short of cash right now. Harvard’s endowment lost $8 billion in the past four months alone. Many limited partners simply cannot honor capital calls from VCs. (When a VC firm creates a new fund, it does not collect all the money at once. Instead, it receives promises from limited partners that they will invest when the capital is needed).

Rather than face the penalty of default, limited partners increasingly are trying to sell their commitments at deep discounts on secondary markets. Conversely—knowing that they may not be able to call in their chits—VC’s are motivated to slow down their investment activity.

All of this is to be expected during a recession. Entrepreneurs wait for a rebound, and then their startups get funded once again.

But what if this recession (and bear market) lasts longer than a year or two? And what if startup founders don’t feel like waiting around for VCs and their limited partners to get back on their feet?

Startups can be run so cheaply now (with open-source software, cloud computing, and virtual teams spread across the Web) that many more can achieve profitability without any VC cash. Up until recently, they still happily took that cash when it was handed to them. But certain classes of startups, especially Web startups, may now find they don’t even need that money. Y Combinator’s Paul Graham argues:

VCs and founders are like two components that used to be bolted together. Around 2000 the bolt was removed. Because the components have so far been subjected to the same forces, they still seem to be joined together, but really one is just resting on the other. A sharp impact would make them fly apart. And the present recession could be that impact.

. . . The current generation of founders want to raise money from VCs, and Sequoia specifically, because Larry and Sergey took money from VCs, and Sequoia specifically. Imagine what it would do to the VC business if the next hot company didn’t take VC at all.

The less venture capital there is for new startups, the faster the decoupling will begin.


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Doom-and-gloom scenarios

By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch
ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. (MarketWatch) — What is next? If the “Great Depression 2” scenario plays out, what’s after 2011? Recovery? A new bull? How can you protect your money? Or are we all helpless victims of the raging winds of fate and Wall Street’s self-serving brand of capitalism.
Let’s review several scenarios in the bright lens of Akira Kurosawa’s classic 1950 film, “Rashomon,” at once an ancient Kabuki morality play, a tense modern courtroom drama, and a revealing documentary on human psychology. In “Rashomon” we witness the murder of a Samurai warrior and a rape through the eyes of several witnesses, each swearing they saw what “really happened.”
We “see” these tragedies in a forest through the eyes of a Woodcutter, Priest, Samurai’s Wife, the accused Bandit, and the Samurai, speaking through a Medium. But as “the facts” unfold, the lies and contractions of biased minds are exposed and the truth becomes increasingly blurred. In the end, we are still wondering: What really happened?
Similarly, today we’re asking; “What really happened to America, so fast?” With Bush, Paulson, Bernanke and their Reaganomics ideology? To my 401(k), my CDs, my kid’s college fund, my retirement nest egg. To the great American dream? What happened?
Nightmare scenario No. 1: No exit, a never-ending disaster
Remember former Goldman Chairman John Whitehead? He “sees” a tragic ending: This Reagan Deputy Secretary of State and former New York Fed chairman “sees” America burning through trillions, over many years: “Nothing but large increases in the deficit … worse than the Depression.”
He worries that “tomorrow is the day Moody’s and S&P will announce a downgrade of U.S. government bonds.” Politicians and public are delusional, promising huge new programs plus tax cutting: “This is a road to disaster.’ Like Sartre’s existential tragedy, “No Exit,” he says: “I don’t see a solution.”
If this dialogue emerged in “Rashomon,” deep in the forest, I could “see” Whitehead pointing a finger at Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, accusing him of terrible deeds.
Nightmare scenario No. 2: Washington’s unsustainable deficits
True to the “Rashomon” narrative Warren Buffett “sees” America sinking in a swamp of unsustainable debt to justify our excessive spending — government, consumer, corporate.
Remember Buffett’s famous farmer’s story: “We were taught in Economics 101 that countries could not for long sustain large, ever-growing trade deficits.” America “has been behaving like an extraordinarily rich family that possesses an immense farm. In order to consume 4% more than they produce, that’s the trade deficit, we have, day by day, been both selling pieces of the farm and increasing the mortgage on what we still own.”
Like his farmers, we borrowed $700 billion a year to live high on the hog, selling off American assets. Now foreign sovereign funds own trillions of our assets. Today Uncle Warren’s story is less a children’s fairy tale and more a “Rashomon” tragedy.
Nightmare scenario No. 3: The endless 100-year bear market
Robert Prechter’s a brilliant market forecaster and editor of the Elliott Wave Theorist newsletter. As early as 1978 he predicted the “raging bull market of the 1980s.” Many laughed. Then tech roared and he became “Guru of the Decade.”
In the “Rashomon” cast he’s credible. And ahead again: He “saw” the future in his “At the Crest of the Wave: A Forecast of the Great Bear Market.” Today’s darkening markets ride his “wave” theories: Rapidly unfolding, accelerating and intensifying economic cycles. First the dot-com crash, then the subprime housing bull, the credit meltdown, now the coming “Great Depression 2.”
In the ’90s, Prechter had another vision from deep in the forest. Again we ignored him. No more. The same wisdom that let him “see” the 1980’s bull years before it took off, may accurately predict the coming 100-year bear market well ahead of time.
Nightmare scenario No. 4: Pentagon ‘warfare defines human life’
In “Rashomon” they see all, we nothing. In courtrooms, lawyers deceive, suppress the truth. Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke are masters of deception in the courtroom of public opinion, as descendents of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
One intentional leak (obviously designed as a tactic to stoke public fear and create budget support for the DOD’s war machine) surfaced in the early days of the Iraq War. Fortune analyzed a classified military report, the Pentagon’s “Weather Nightmare:” “Climate could change radically and fast. That would be the mother of all national security issues … massive droughts, turning farmland into dust bowls and forests to ashes … by 2020 there is little doubt that something drastic is happening … an old pattern could emerge; warfare defining human life.”
Today, as a “Great Depression” and a “100-year Bear Market” become more real than a “Rashomon” sequel, ask yourself: Are there too many people? Too few resources? Too many competing special interests? In America? Worldwide? Are we all too greedy to compromise? Are we then left vulnerable to Paulson’s multiple Reaganomics “weapons of financial mass destruction,” land mines surviving his exit in bailout “sleeper cells,” left to sabotage government budgets, taxpayers and the future of America?
Nightmare scenario No. 5: Too many people, too few resources
The Earth supports 6.5 billion people. The United Nations predicts there will be 9.1 billion by 2050, all competing against 400 million Americans for ever-scarcer resources. The L.A. Times says that a U.N. report “paints a near-apocalyptic vision of Earth’s future: hundreds of millions of people short of water, extreme food shortages in Africa, a landscape ravaged by floods and millions of species sentenced to extinction.”
Today’s news suggests we may already be there, for the population explosion is the mother of all bubbles, a “nuclear” bomb that will explode all other bubbles, ushering onto the “Rashomon” stage a reality far beyond a 100-year bear, on a desolate, post-apocalyptic WALL-E planet Earth.
Nightmare scenario No. 6: Star Trek’s bold new ‘end of days’
One “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episode haunts me, much like “Rashomon.” In it past and future collide. Set in the 23rd century, “Inner Light” gives us a brief end-of-days look at the star-crossed future of two civilizations, one boldly exploring new worlds, the other leaving behind but a small sad trace of its mysterious disappearance. Two planets, which is our metaphor?
The Enterprise encounters a probe floating in space. Suddenly an energy beam zaps Captain Picard. He wakes up on an alien planet. Recovering from a fever he is “Kamin,” can’t recognize his “wife.” Friends think he’s delusional, mumbling about being a starship captain. Trapped in this parallel universe, time passes. Memories of his prior life fade. He falls in love with his wife, raises a family, kids, grandkids, lives the peaceful life he only imagined in space.
But his new planet’s resources gradually disappear. Temperatures rise. Water scarcer. Desert lands spread. The Pentagon scenario? Near the end, he watches a missile soar into space, an intergalactic time capsule, a final record of a once-great civilization.
Suddenly the probe turns off. Picard awakes on floor of the Enterprise bridge. Twenty minutes passed. Engine power returns. They continue boldly going where no one has gone before, left with memories of a simple life on a dying planet that vanished eons ago. Ask yourself: Are we boldly going anywhere? Will someone, someday be reading our probe?
Nightmare scenario No. 7: No-Growth Economics vs. Neo-Capitalism
While Goldman former Chairman Whitehead gave up, there is still a solution, one way to dodge the “Great Depression 2,” the “100-Year Bear.” I reviewed this scenario in a recent issue of Adbusters magazine, where legendary economist Herman Daly was recently named “Man of the Year.”
The Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy” says this new greener economic theory calls for “stabilized population and consumption. Such stability means that the amount of resource throughput and waste disposal remains roughly constant.” In this theory, all systems are in balance.
“The key features of a steady state economy are: sustainable scale, in which economic activities fit within the capacity provided by ecosystems; fair distribution of wealth; and efficient allocation of resources.”
This new economics may be what sustains the Star Trek culture in the 23rd century, but unfortunately, it is unlikely to get broad support in today’s free market Reaganomics capitalism, let alone support from America’s political parties or any sovereign nations in today’s highly competitive international arena … at least not until we’ve gone past the point of no return, like that mysterious planet recorded on the probe discovered in the 23rd century by Star Trek’s Captain Picard.
As in “Rashomon,” we “see” many competing scenarios, “seen” through many competing “eyes.’ Yet, for the victims, the end game is always tragically irreversible. We may, however, find some comfort in the “wave theory,” for all waves emerge, ripple, oscillate, accelerate until they inevitably self-destruct and fade.
Earth appears destined to accelerate to 9 billion … exhausting Earth’s resources … in a self-destructive Pentagon global warfare scenario … driven by another Great Depression … and 100-year bear market. In the end Whitehead said it all: “This is a road to disaster … I don’t see a solution.”
Probe dims, fade to black. Or will we finally wake up … and take command of our starship?

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Creative Destruction

Not so long ago, corporate giants with names like PanAm, ITT and Montgomery Ward roamed the earth. They faded and were replaced by new companies with names like Microsoft, Southwest Airlines and Target. The U.S. became famous for this pattern of decay and new growth. Over time, American government built a bigger safety net so workers could survive the vicissitudes of this creative destruction — with unemployment insurance and soon, one hopes, health-care security. But the government has generally not interfered in the dynamic process itself, which is the source of the country’s prosperity.

But this, apparently, is about to change. Democrats from Barack Obama to Nancy Pelosi want to grant immortality to General Motors, Chrysler and Ford. They have decided to follow an earlier $25 billion loan with a $50 billion bailout, which would inevitably be followed by more billions later, because if these companies are not permitted to go bankrupt now, they never will be.

This is a different sort of endeavor than the $750 billion bailout of Wall Street. That money was used to save the financial system itself. It was used to save the capital markets on which the process of creative destruction depends.

Granting immortality to Detroit’s Big Three does not enhance creative destruction. It retards it. It crosses a line, a bright line. It is not about saving a system; there will still be cars made and sold in America. It is about saving politically powerful corporations.

A Detroit bailout would set a precedent for every single politically connected corporation in America. There already is a long line of lobbyists bidding for federal money. If Detroit gets money, then everyone would have a case. After all, are the employees of Circuit City or the newspaper industry inferior to the employees of Chrysler?

It is all a reminder that the biggest threat to a healthy economy is not the socialists of campaign lore. It’s CEOs. It’s politically powerful crony capitalists who use their influence to create a stagnant corporate welfare state.

If ever the market has rendered a just verdict, it is the one rendered on GM and Chrysler. These companies are not innocent victims of this crisis. To read the expert literature on these companies is to read a long litany of miscalculation. Some experts mention the management blunders, some the union contracts and the legacy costs, some the years of poor car design and some the entrenched corporate cultures.

There seems to be no one who believes the companies are viable without radical change. A federal cash infusion will not infuse wisdom into management. It will not reduce labor costs. It will not attract talented new employees. As Megan McArdle of The Atlantic wittily put it, “Working for the Big Three magically combines vast corporate bureaucracy and job insecurity in one completely unattractive package.”

In short, a bailout will not solve anything — just postpone things. If this goes through, Big Three executives will make decisions knowing that whatever happens, Uncle Sam will bail them out — just like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In the meantime, capital that could have gone to successful companies and programs will be directed toward companies with a history of using it badly.

The second part of Obama’s plan is the creation of an auto czar with vague duties. Other smart people have called for such a czar to reorganize the companies and force the companies to fully embrace green technology and other good things.

That would be great, but if Obama was such a fervent believer in the Chinese model of all-powerful technocrats, he should have mentioned it during the campaign. Are we really to believe there exists a czar omniscient, omnipotent and beneficent enough to know how to fix the Big Three? Who is this deity? Are we to believe that political influence will miraculously disappear, that the czar would have absolute power over unions, management, Congress and the White House? Please.

This is an excruciatingly hard call. A case could be made for keeping the Big Three afloat as a jobs program until the economy gets better and then letting them go bankrupt. But the most persuasive experts argue that bankruptcy is the least horrible option.

Airline, steel and retail companies have gone through bankruptcy proceedings and adjusted. It would be a less politically tainted process. Government could use that $50 billion — and more — to help the workers who are going to be displaced no matter what.

But the larger principle is over the nature of America’s political system. Is this country going to slide into progressive corporatism, a merger of corporate and federal power that will inevitably stifle competition, empower corporate and federal bureaucrats and protect entrenched interests? Or is the U.S. going to stick with its historic model: Helping workers weather the storms of a dynamic economy, but preserving the dynamism that is the core of the country’s success.

David Brooks is a regular columnist for The New York Times.

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From CNN Money

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — There is a ride at the Six Flags Great Adventure theme park in New Jersey called the Great American Scream Machine. Rumor has it that it will soon be renamed to give it a much more frightening moniker: The Dow.

Of course, I jest. But the market’s gut-churning volatility of the past few weeks makes it seem like Wall Street is one big roller coaster. And not surprisingly, many investors are afraid.

There’s even a way of measuring that, an index on the Chicago Board Options Exchange known as the CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX.

The CBOE describes the VIX as a “key measure of market expectations of near-term volatility conveyed by S&P 500 stock index option prices.” But many in the financial press have taken to referring to it as Wall Street’s “fear gauge.”

That may not be technically accurate but it’s close enough. The VIX (VIX) has more than tripled since the end of August and has nearly doubled in just this month. The VIX tends to surge on days when the market is plunging and fall on days when stocks are rallying.

To that end, the VIX plunged 21% on Monday and soared nearly 26% Wednesday. It hit a record high Thursday morning when the Dow was down nearly 400 points and it was starting to look like stocks would suffer their second consecutive bloodbath.

The VIX bounced back a bit later in the day once stocks rallied. But the VIX rose 4% Friday as the stocks fell on yet another topsy-turvy day.

So how important is the VIX really? Can it give investors more than just a daily snapshot about how terrified people are?

It can. In fact, some argue that when the VIX is near record levels, it could mean that the market is nearing its lows.

“Short-term direction of the market is always difficult to predict but the VIX is a valuable tool of showing when there is real panic and fear in the market,” said Alan Skrainka, chief investment strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis..”It is, with all the appropriate caveats, a pretty good indicator of market bottoms.”

Skrainka pointed out that, typically, a VIX level above 30 is considered a sign of fear. To put that in perspective, the VIX closed at around 70 on Friday.

He noted that in the late summer of 1998, when hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management was imploding, the VIX had a stretch where it routinely was in the low to mid 40s. But stocks went on to have a big rally in the fourth quarter of 1998 and through 1999.

Still, the VIX is hardly foolproof. Investors did party like it’s 1999 in 1999 but the next three years were brutal.

The VIX was above 30 in April 2000 when tech stocks were crumbling and that was not a market bottom. The VIX shot up above 40 again in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. That wasn’t the bottom either.

The market didn’t bottom in the last bear market until October 2002. But in the months preceding that, the VIX was often above 40. That period was the height of the accounting shenanigans that shattered investor confidence — WorldCom filed for bankruptcy in July of that year.

So clearly, just because the VIX is rising sharply doesn’t mean that it can’t keep rising. After all, the VIX was in the 40s just a few weeks ago and stocks have kept falling.

Todd Salamone, senior vice president of research with Schaeffer’s Investment Research in Cincinnati, points out that other measures of volatility, most notably the 20-day historical volatility of the S&P 500, have also been on the rise.

That figure is currently at about 80 and Salamone said that the VIX could trade as much as 35% higher than this number before it’s really a market bottom. That implies that the VIX may need to hit about 108 before the worst is truly priced into the market.

“You can’t view the VIX as just a fear index,” he said. “Yes, the VIX is elevated but so too is historical volatility. The VIX indicates fear but the jury is still out on a bottom. You probably still need to see more panic.”

In other words, people may get even more fearful in the months to come. And the current problems facing the financial sector dwarf the LTCM debacle and Enron-WorldCom-Tyco book cooking.

Yes, there are some tentative signs of hope in what continues to be a dismal period for the markets and economy. Warren Buffett, the legendary investor, wrote in an editorial in The New York Times, Friday that he is personally buying stocks even though he thinks “headlines will continue to be scary.”

That’s yet another indication from Buffett that he thinks there are good values in beaten-up companies — in the past few weeks, his Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA, Fortune 500) firm has announced that it is buying stakes in General Electric (GE, Fortune 500) and Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500).

Buffett is obviously giving people the right advice about investing, that you need to take a long-term view and that at times when everybody assumes the worst, it’s usually the best time to buy.

But Salamone cautions that it may still be too soon to jump back into the market right now unless you are willing to endure even more big drops.

“There are instances when the VIX goes up to a historical level and it’s a buying opportunity but it doesn’t look like we are there yet,” he said.

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By John Cook

One of the oldest venture capital firms in the state will not raise a new fund, a decision that Northwest Venture Associates founder Tom Simpson said was driven in part by the tough economics now facing venture capitalists.”I think the fund model is very broken for a variety of reasons,” said Simpson. “One, there is just too much money out there… As a result, valuations are getting bid up. Number two, you are seeing a huge number of ‘me too’ companies being formed… Thirdly, the exits, quite frankly, just aren’t there. How many IPOs have there been in the Northwest in the last year and half?”

Simpson thinks the venture model is broken

Simpson isn’t the only venture capitalist claiming that it is tough to make money these days. Last fall, Sevin Rosen Funds made headlines when it decided to return up to $300 million to its investors because of the lack of initial public offerings and acquisitions, the primary methods by which venture firms cash out of their investments.

Last year, Simpson — whose active portfolio includes Confirma, Sur La Table and SinglePoint — aborted attempts to raise a specialty fund that would have invested in later-stage companies in the non-tech sector. That’s an area he believes is ripe with opportunity, though Simpson says that it is “just not sexy enough” for the large pension funds, corporate partners and universities that typically support venture capital firms.

“If you are going to invest off the beaten path, you are not going to get institutional support,” he said.

As a result of the failed fundraising efforts, Northwest Venture Associates will not renew the lease on its Seattle office later this month. It will maintain an office in Spokane, where the team of four plans to support 16 existing portfolio companies. But no new investments will be made from the $133 million fund that NWVA raised in 2000, though Simpson said he will continue to invest his own money in startup companies. He also participates in a small angel group in Spokane called Win Partners.

Meanwhile, Kevin Barber, a former investment partner with the firm, left for a new job with Comerica earlier this summer. And venture partner Mark Mecham, who has reduced his role at the firm over the past 10 months, is evaluating opportunities with startups.

Mecham resigned his last board seat at a NWVA portfolio company — Bellevue-based Teracloud — last month. And he said that he no longer has any day-to-day responsibilities with the firm.

He said it made sense to further reduce his role given the firm’s inability to raise about $100 million last year.

“You just don’t need four or five general partners to manage a dozen companies, it kind of comes down to that,” said Mecham, who joined the firm as a general partner in 2000 and handled new investments. “Frankly, the last thing you want to do is be part of group and not have anything to do and that’s kind of where it was going.”

The firm struggled to raise money because it did not have enough positive financial exits in its third fund, said Mecham. “To me, it is as simple as that,” he said. Describing the current environment at NWVA as “harvest mode,” Mecham added that there is still a chance they could raise more money if the current portfolio produces solid returns.

Simpson declined to say how much capital remained in the $133 million fund or disclose the financial performance of that fund or the two others. However, he said there is “more than ample reserves” to invest in the existing portfolio, which he says is in good shape.

The 47-year-old venture capitalist said there are no plans to sell the portfolio to a third party.

Northwest Venture Associates was founded by Simpson, a former investment banker at Dain Bosworth who in 1999 told the P-I that “the opportunity to invest in the region is immense.”

Times have certainly changed. Though Simpson achieved some success at the turn of the decade with early investments in startups such as Tegic, NetPodium and AdRelevance, he now thinks there are too many venture capitalists chasing too few high-quality deals.

When Simpson started raising his first fund in 1995, he said the Pacific Northwest was underserved when it came to venture capital money.

“My premise was dead on. The market was hot and as a result, within a couple of years, you saw like 40 venture funds,” he said. “Right now, my same crystal ball is telling me: ‘you know what? This market environment is way over saturated.’ There is way too much money chasing the exact same things.”

Venture capitalists invested $691 million in the state in the first half of the year, an investment pace only dwarfed by the dot com boom years at the turn of the decade.

One area which Simpson thinks is completely overheated is the Internet space, which he believes is littered with unproven business models that are destined to fail.

In his view, the only way to make money as a venture capitalist these days is to invest in companies and sectors that other investors aren’t tracking. It also takes patience, seven to 15 years, he said. Even though NWVA won’t have a new fund from which to invest, Simpson — who says he has capital resources to tap when new deals arise — believes that he will eventually be proven right with his latest investment thesis.

“Just because you can’t raise a fund, doesn’t mean it is a bad idea,” said Simpson, referring to those non-tech companies that fly under the radar with $15 million to $50 million in revenue. “Does the world really need yet one more early-stage technology fund focusing on Web 2.0? No. But that is the mentality of many institutional investors.”

He said the returns for many venture capital firms are “questionable,” noting that it is time for the industry to change.

“Doing the same thing over and over again, may not be a good idea,” he said. “That is the definition of insanity.”

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By Mike Masnick

For years, plenty of people have pointed out the difference between innovation and invention, with a popular quote being that “invention is turning money into ideas; innovation is turning ideas into money.” Basically, invention is coming up with a new idea — innovation is successfully bringing a product to market in a way that people want. Where some people disagree is how important each of these stages are. Our position has been that innovation is a lot more important than invention. Successfully bringing a product to market is what makes the world a better place — because it satisfies needs in the market and expands the economy. There were music players before the iPod, but Apple innovated the iPod into more of a “must have” device. There were cars before Ford, but he innovated to make it affordable for the average person. This is one of the reasons why we have such trouble with the patent system as it’s currently designed. It rewards invention, but makes innovation more difficult and expensive.

A new study supports this point by showing that in most companies executives are a lot more worried about innovation than invention, saying that they’re overwhelmed with ideas. It’s successfully executing and putting those ideas into practice in a way that makes money that’s so difficult. The study found only 17% of companies where execs were worried about not having the necessary ideas. Instead, most companies were greatly worried with taking those ideas and actually being able to bring them to market successfully. So once again, we’re seeing that it’s innovation that’s the bigger challenge than invention. In fact, it seems that many companies feel that there are too many ideas going around — and the real challenge is in executing and bringing those ideas successfully to market. So, why is it that our public policy is focused on just the invention process (of which there appears to be too much) while making it more expensive and difficult to execute and bring products to market (which is the real challenge companies are facing)?

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