Swiss Parliament Backs UBS Pact [WSJ]
After telling U.S. and IRS to drop dead last week, the lower House of Swiss Parliament has approved the deal to turn over 4,450 names as part of UBS’ settlement involving their assistance to taxpayers in the U.S. evade their obligations through offshore accounts.
There’s one small problem remaining – the lower house wants to put the agreement to a popular referendum while the upper house in parliament is opposed to the idea. The two have until Friday to reconcile their differences, otherwise another vote will be necessary to settle the referendum issue.
The problem with the referendum is that it could take months for happen and it could cause the Swiss to miss the August deadline that it agreed to. This could lead to fresh charges against UBS and further extending a story that pretty much everyone has grown tired of.
Stanford’s Co-Defendants Try to Flee the ‘Circus’ [DealBook]
Stanford’s Chief Investment Officer, Chief Accounting Officer and Controller are all attempting to sever themselves from Al’s proceedings because he’s an absolute drama whore.
Former CIO Laura Pendergest-Holt’s motion to have her trial severed describes RAS’ conduct as ‘egregious and circus-like conduct,’ using the term “circus” at least eight times.
So while a circus is infinitely fun for the rest of us, it doesn’t really do co-conspirators any good when they are trying to get a fair trial.
Dealing With a Toxic Resumé [FINS]
How can you move past a job with a tax company like Stanford, Countrywide, Bear Stearns et al.? You might just want to GIVE UP (and that could be advisable if you were a perp) but there are some things you can do to wash away that taint on your resumé.
For starters don’t bad mouth the old company, even though they probably deserve it. Secondly, you might attach an addendum to your resumé in order to explain the whole sitch and you can always turn the situation into a positive by explaining how you’ve learned from working at such a lousy company.
Keep your chin up, you’ll be back to being a white collar working stiff in no time.
Duke boy dodges tax hazard [Tax Watchdog]
John Schneider, aka Bo Duke, and his wife owe California about $28,000 in back taxes. Turns out his old accountant left him ‘high and dry’ so he’s working it out with Arnie.
Zynga Receives $147 Million Investment From Japan’s Softbank [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]
Memo to Farmville Haters: it’s here to stay and there will be more to come.
Silicon Valley is still central headquarters for venture capital activity in the US. But it looks like the New York City area is trying to play catch up.
A new report shows an increase in the region both in the amount of startup funding and the number of deals for two consecutive quarters, while activity in Silicon Valley dropped.
The report, from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, found that financing for companies in and around the Big Apple increased to $566 million in the first quarter. That was an 18.9 percent rise from the previous quarter, also a 34 percent year-over-year increase. A total of 75 firms received money in the first quarter, up 13.6 percent.
In Silicon Valley the story was very different. Investment dollars and numbers still won out over New York, of course. But the trend was down. Total funding of $1.5 billion in the first quarter represented a 21.4 percent drop from the fourth quarter 2009, while the number of deals fell 24.6 percent over the same period.
Overall share of VC money also rose in New York and fell in Silicon Valley. In New York, it reached 12 percent, up from 9.2 percent in the fourth quarter 2009, compared to 32.3 percent for Silicon Valley, down from 37.5 percent.
This New York- area investment growth reflects recent efforts by venture capitalists and the New York City government to rev up funding.
A few examples:
Last spring, New York law firm Lowenstein Sandler started First Growth Venture Network, which provides mentoring for newbie CEOs from venture capital firms, angels and more-seasoned executives.
Last fall, they announced the first 15 CEO mentees. Late last year, seven successful entrepreneurs launched the Founder Collective to make $50,000 to $1 million investments in very early-stage ventures in New York, as well as the Boston area.
In early 2009, NYC Seed, a partnership of venture capital, non-profits and universities, made its first investments in several seed-stage ventures.
Last week, I wrote about trends in angel investing and noted that such financing provides more money for startups than venture capital. Still, although VCs invest in a small percentage of all new companies, they do support enterprises with potential to become real powerhouses. So, the New York area economy clearly benefits both in the short and long-term from this financing activity.
Although it’s doubtful these firms will ever match the contribution in tax dollars and jobs provided by Wall Street.
Many startups, especially ones with high-growth potential, depend on receiving at least some of their funding from angel investors. Now, a new report sheds light on what type of entrepreneurial ventures got angel money last year.
Specifically, the report from the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire found that financing for really early-stage companies declined and a larger percentage went to more-established ventures. That is, 35 percent of investments in 2009 were in seed stage companies, a decrease of 10 percent from 2008. And new, or so-called first sequence investments, were 47 percent of all angel activity, a significant decline over the last two years.
What this means, of course, is that angels are favoring proven quantities that are less risky than newer ventures. That’s been a trend for several years now and it’s worrisome. You might not know it from press coverage, but angel funding is considerably more prevalent than venture capital financing: Many more startups receive angel money than VC dollars. So, if angels shy away from early ventures, that means the loss of a significant historical source of funding for these companies.
Then, there’s the matter of what these companies mean to the economy, which I’ve written about before. The startups that receive angel money tend to be ones with high-growth potential, the kind with at least a fighting chance of becoming a lot bigger and employing a lot of people. Thus, it’s not a positive development over the long haul if angels choose to play it safe and avoid very early-stage ventures.
On the modestly good side, the report showed a decrease in investment dollars but little change in the number of investments. Total investments in 2009 were $17.6 billion, down 8.3 percent from 2008. But a total of 57,225 ventures received funding, a 3.1 percent increase from 2008. In other words, more startups got money, although deal size was smaller.
It would be more reassuring if a larger share of the $17.6 billion had gone to a different type of venture.
With all the talk lately about how small businesses are vital to job creation, turns out it’s a relatively small number of high-growth entrepreneurial firms creating much of that employment. And, now, there’s pending legislation, pushed heavily by venture capitalists, that could encourage the growth of such companies.
First, about those high-flying startups. According to recent research from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, fast-growing relatively young firms generate about 10 percent of all new jobs in any given year. That includes what the study calls “gazelle” firms–enterprises three to five years old. And, these ventures create all those jobs even though they’re less than 1 percent of all companies. The average firm in the top 1 percent contributes 88 jobs per year; most end up producing between 20 and 249 employees. The average firm in the economy as a whole adds two or three net new jobs each year.
Of course, these findings have important implications for government policy and what types of small business it should focus on. Among other recommendations, the study urges the passage of legislation just introduced in the Senate, informally known as the “Startup Visa Act.” Sponsored by Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar, the bill would address the problem facing many foreign entrepreneurial wannabes who can’t get a visa to come here and start a company.
To that end, it would create a new visa for such entrepreneurs who are sponsored by a US venture capital firm or angel making an investment of at least $100,000 in an equity financing of no less than $250,000. The legislation would modify the EB-5 visa program; that requires recipients to invest at least $500,000 in a US company and create no fewer than 10 jobs.
The bill is the product of heavy lobbying by such investors as Brad Feld, who is with the venture capital firm the Foundry Group. Of course, they have their own business reasons to push this legislation but there seems to be sound research to back it up.