November 2015

small washpo

I have been saying for a number of years that our national security establishment needs access to entrepreneurs and garage inventors because we as a nation need their agility and new sources of innovation. This is a viewpoint that a growing number of people within the national security establishment have taken up.

Recent acts of terror in Paris and other parts of the world have only accentuated this view. We are constantly reminded that we face national security challenges from small, distributed and agile teams who are using technology against us in unanticipated ways.

We as a country need to respond with technological approaches that are similarly agile and creative. In significant ways, our national security agencies’ existing mechanisms for obtaining innovation inhibit the attraction of new and agile sources of innovation.

However, there are…

Read entire column at WashingtonPost.com.

 

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I have often tried to explain the dynamic of fundraising by analogizing it to a human behavior most entrepreneurs are familiar with – dating and relationships.  In saying this I often get nervous laughs from an audience.  My guess is that it reflects an internal thought process in the listener that goes like this.  “Hmmm, that makes no sense…. Wait, I think I get it it…. Oh man, when I think of the goofy things I have done to get ____…. Ugh (nervous laugh).”

Anyway, to extend on the analogy please consider this.  What are you most interested in doing when you are dating:  Getting someone to like you, of course.  Think about how you accomplish this goal.  Are you…

Read entire blog from February 28, 2013.

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Mark Andreessen and Meg Whitman, two people who ought to know, were recently asked whether “technology creates inequality.” Their answer was a resounding “no.” They were asked the wrong question.

Andreessen is the entrepreneur who co-founded Netscape and has made millions selling his companies to business giants. Whitman heads Hewlett Packard Enterprise. They not only embrace change, but bring it into our everyday lives.

The question should be: Is technology leaving some people behind?

Technology manifests in satisfying human wants — even some wants we didn’t know we had. Many take for granted that…

Read entire column on WashingtonPost.com.

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It seems some days that getting an education is portrayed as the pursuit of mugs and fools.  I have lost count of the articles and blogs I read, and the talking heads I hear, spouting nonsense about the folly of pursuing a college education or an advanced degree like an MBA.  It is a large and recurring theme in startup land – the argument that real entrepreneurs don’t need an education, or that an education (or an MBA) is just an impediment to the inherent greatness and creativity of the entrepreneur.  It’s a theme presented through the images of the down trodden BAs who can’t get jobs, and stories of overpriced liberal arts colleges pumping out graduates with “no skills.”  And, you know what?  It is SO MUCH NONSENSE.

Entrepreneurship is a human behavior, without question.  People who are entrepreneurial often seem to be born into it.  However, growing a successful business is not instinctive. It is a journey, and one that is more likely to be successful if the people involved have knowledge and context to guide their instincts.  Moreover, a successful business…

Read the entire post from May 7, 2013.

 

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Washington officials are like moths drawn to the flame of Silicon Valley. They see it as a source of talent, ideas and technology. And it is. But it’s not the only place they find those things. Virginia venture capitalist Jonathan Aberman tells Federal Drive with Tom Temin a more careful approach to acquisition can tease out the best from industry no matter what the location.

Listen to entire interview from Federal News Radio.

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I am tired of comparing our transportation system to other nations’ and being embarrassed.

I want to travel on a train that goes 300 mph between Washington, D.C. and New York City. I’d also like to drive on smooth highways. And, while I am at it, I’d like to know that the Federal Aviation Administration’s air traffic control system isn’t relying on antiquated computers.

Somewhere along the way, expecting our national transportation infrastructure to be cutting edge has become more and more like a child wanting a pony under the Christmas tree than a serious policy discussion.

Read entire column on WashingtonPost.com

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SMITH BRAIN TRUST — A new creature has joined the entrepreneurial menagerie of gazelles (fast-growing firms), elephants (like Wal-Mart) and mice (corner barbershops). These are the unicorns — privately held startups such as Uber, Airbnb and Snapchat worth more than $1 billion each. With only 141 in existence, unicorns are the rarest creature of all. And Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman is worried about their health. She recently told CNN Money that many young companies have been able to garner “extraordinary valuations” without actually proving themselves.

“People inside the industry and in the know have been talking about this for at least a year or longer,” says Jonathan Aberman, a 25-year veteran of the venture capital industry and adjunct professor at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

He says a market correction is inevitable, but don’t expect a repeat of the dot-com collapse of the 1990s or the subprime mortgage crisis of the past decade. Instead, he describes a process that will unfold in three stages without causing widespread panic. “This will be a slow-motion adjustment,” Aberman says. “This will not be a crash.”

The first two stages already have occurred. What happens next…Read entire article on the Robert H. Smith School of Business site.

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Originally posted in November 2013:

The JOBS Act reminds me of the old joke about the elephant and the blind men.  An elephant looks very different depending upon which part you’re touching.  There’s lots of hype around the concept of crowd equity for sure – almost breathless at times. This week’s announcement that the SEC is moving forward with rules to effect the intent of the Act – to allow unaccredited investors (i.e.., not wealthy people) to invest in startups through on line exchanges – was no exception.  Make no mistake, allowing people who are not well off to invest up to $5,000 in the stock of a small privately held company is a big change – it undermines 80+ years of securities laws based upon a simple principle: in the absence of a test for financial sophistication, having sufficient assets to absorb an investment loss is the best protection for investors.

But, is it a big deal for startups and investors?  Sadly, as a practical matter, there are aspects of this new regime that will … Read the original post from November 2013.

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The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) announced today the newly appointed members of the CIT Board of Directors and the Board of Directors of its parent authority, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority (IEIA).

Appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe are: Jonathan AbermanBernard MustafaMichael Rao.

Full details in CIT November 9 press release.

Since 1985, CIT, a nonprofit corporation, has been Virginia’s primary driver of innovation and entrepreneurship. CIT accelerates the next generation of technology and technology companies through commercialization, capital formation, market development and revenue generation services. To facilitate national innovation leadership and accelerate the rate of technology adoption, CIT creates partnerships between innovative technology start-up companies and advanced technology consumers.

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