IPO Fever is Spreading; New Small Biz Plastic
BY Kasey Wehrum
The flood gates open for new IPO's. With five venture-backed companies set to go public this week, the most the market has seen in about two years, IPO's are beginning to seem like a viable option again for a slew of promising young companies. The Boston Globe talks with a number of venture capitalists and young companies who can't seem to contain their excitement about the return of the IPO market. As one banker explains, "We are very actively talking to a bunch of companies on both coasts about the IPO market." Included in the renewed interest in IPO's is Scott Griffith, CEO of Zipcar. He said his company is back on track and preparing for a "marquee IPO" in 2010.
Small business credit cards make a comeback. Finally some good news for small business owners who have been struggling with the increased difficulty in obtaining credit. As the Wall Street Journal reports, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. have announced plans to launch four new credit cards aimed at small business owners. The cards, dubbed "Ink" (we're flattered), offer various rewards and perks to small businesses, including the ability to track and report business expenses online and set spending limits for employees at no extra cost.
The Silicon Ceiling: Where were the women at TechCrunch50? MTV Networks product manager Maya Baratz had a different perspective on TechCrunch50 than most of the other attendees, probably because she was part of the mere 5 percent who were female. In the Huffington Post, Baratz talks about how little has changed since she noticed the same phenomenon at the Webby Awards in 2001. At TechCrunch50, only one member of the 20-person judging panel was a woman (Google's Marissa Mayer) and only 2 of the 50 startups had female founders. Baratz concedes that there might be some truth to the idea that women are less present in the industry overall, but she disputes the notion that there are no influential women in the Valley, citing Ning's Gina Bianchini, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, and Flickr's Caterina Fake, not to mention female tech journalists like Sarah Lacy, Caroline McCarthy, Kara Swisher, and Jenna Wortham. So why the lack of women at TechCrunch50? "One could blame the industry's flirtation with misogyny," says Baratz who links to McCarthy's CNET post about the boys-club culture (even during TechCrunch50 pitches). Baratz also calls out the Mad Men-era ethos that "If you're a woman, you might get noticed for your work as long as you're attractive, not particularly eccentric and generally easy for a company to wear." Whatever the reason, the barrier to entry for women, she says, "may get in the way between the businesses they'd like to build and the venture capital and marketing vehicles required to get these businesses off the ground."
Is six minutes worth $18,000? That's the question those businesses invited to pitch their companies at DEMOfall, an annual invitation-only tech showcase, need to decide. Venture capitalists, industry execs, and the media all attend the San Diego conference, which has served as a launching pad for companies such as Palm Pilot and TiVo. The Austin American-Statesman spotlights MicroAssist, a local e-learning company that was one of the 56 companies selected out of the 1,000 that applied that will get six minutes to make their case. The downside is that with the honor of being selected to participate, companies must pay fees of about$18,000.
We're off to the Inc. 500 Conference. The Fresh Inc. team is heading down to Washington D.C. for our Annual Inc. 500|5000 Conference where we'll serve as your roving conference reporters. In addition to the day's news, we'll also be providing daily updates on the conference's speakers, gossip, and general goings-on. This is a great opportunity for us to get out and meet the people behind the Inc. 500|5000 List, so we're all excited. In addition to the parties and schmoozing, this year's lineup of speakers should be really interesting. Among the highlights, are Tony Hsieh talking about company culture, Jim Collins on how to thrive in these crazy times, and advertising tips from the guys of Wexley School for Girls. Stay tuned.
Staff editor KASEY WEHRUM has written for Inc. magazine on subjects ranging from the businesses behind professional bull riding to gadget inventor and father of the infomercial, Ron Popeil. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Worth, Budget Travel, and on MSNBC.com. He lives in Brooklyn.