Every once in a while you feel like the universe is telling you something, even if you're not quite sure of the message. I've had one of those experiences in the last 24 hours, and hopefully it bodes well for MCED and Maine entrepreneurship.
In today's Wall Street Journal, my old venture capital firm Accel Partners received its latest citation as one of the very top investors in Silicon Valley. A page C1 story listed them along with Sequoia Capital and Redpoint Ventures as having 9 IPO exits so far this year. I'm really happy for my former partners; the two founders, Jim Swartz and Arthur Patterson, were big reasons I joined in 1986 – seemingly a terrible time to enter VC, as the IPO market had peaked in '83 and the sector was in a cyclical decline. Along with other firms we had a bit of "Kleiner envy," as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers on Sand Hill Road were the unrivaled VC leaders. A young associate hired after me, Jim Breyer, wanted to become the next John Doerr (and who didn't?), Kleiner's celebrity VC.
Now, decades later, Jim Breyer is on top of the world from his Facebook board seat, Accel Partners gets top billing in the Journal, and Kleiner Perkins didn't even make today's article. And I'm in Maine – where I moved in 1996 to do my a cappella entrepreneurial thing. I'd started an a cappella catalog in 1992 as something I could operate in Maine, at a time when unaccompanied singing was a really obscure niche. The first catalog had all of 150 CDs listed.
Fast forward to last night, when the hugely popular Fox TV show Glee culminated in a show choir competition, and one of the three featured groups was a high school all male a cappella group. They performed a popular tune, dancing across the stage, to thunderous applause. Mainstream media recognition for a cappella was a wild-eyed dream back in 1992, yet there it was last night – three years since I sold off the last piece of my business. And one of my former business partners, Deke Sharon, is music director of The Sing-Off, an a cappella competition reality TV show on NBC that will run weekly this fall. Weekly a cappella on network television!
So I've been fortunate to be early in associating with organizations and trends that went on to national recognition after I left. I'm hoping that the third time is a charm, and that MCED and Maine entrepreneurship will reach similar heights while I'm still involved. I see huge potential here in Maine, with no more daunting obstacles than VC faced in 1986, or a cappella in 1992. We'll get things accelerating here soon.
Starting with Top Gun Maine this fall. The application deadline is a week from today: July 15. Let's get going with the next Big Thing: scalable innovation based Maine entrepreneurship!