The Churchill Club was founded in Silicon Valley to provide a forum for business and political topics. The recent panel moderated by brothers Michael and Tony Perkins certainly made everyone perk up in their seats. It was the Perkins' who brought us the Red Herring (Tony is the Editor-in-Chief), as well as the provocative best seller the Internet Bubble along with the just released Internet Bubble Revised Edition. (We have always carried the Bubble books at Buck's as well novels written by Michael)
The panel included Gary Morgenthaler, the man in the middle at the venture firm of the same name; Brad Koenig, the major domo at Goldman Sachs here in the Valley; and Jim Breyer managing partner at Accel Partners. It looked like Breakfast at Buck's for 700, but it was no picnic. Not being a member of the Club, I had to muscle my way in. The nice people at the Churchill Club thought I'd make less noise inside, as opposed to on the roof, so I sat with the rubber chicken (not on the plate, I actually brought a rubber chicken) and became all ears (hard for a natural loud mouth like me). Tony started off with a question to the group, and asked, in essence, "Where did the money go?" No one was quite sure, but Brad said right out that finger pointing would not be productive. Michael rolled his eyes just a tiny bit as he has been a driving force in uncovering in his Bubble books what might be considered shenanigans with regard to stock pinching (My term; this means that the supply is overly reduced to increase its volatility) and other things which can be laid at the doors of certain financiers.
I got my tail handed to me, as did so many, by the market and I'm no expert in the various forces so I have decided to leave the technical analysis as well as the slings and arrows to my betters and just do what I do best which is the purveyance of pancakes and keeping peace between the journalists and the venture capitalists. Financially speaking, I am a nonsectarian. I do think that Brad, Gary and Jim demonstrated tremendous grace under what could be considered a bit of a rugged (although in no way hostile, as these guys all are friends and gentlemen) interrogation.
Jim explained that our unbridled exuberance had dire results in the stock marketplace as well as for us as individuals. I think we can all agree on that. Personally I really liked all the free money, but I'm perfectly happy to continue working at a real job and I am certainly grateful for it. I liked the aphorism from Gary's father, "Don't confuse brains with a bull market." Brad pointed out that the debit levels some firms maintained were bad business and that we should make sure to evaluate that element in particular when valuing a company. The panelists agreed that good times will be back, in spite of the debacle in New York and Washington, but certainly not immediately.
We all tried to invent the future at breakneck speed and I am very comfortable with people like these five men leading us toward the next great thing. We tried a lot of stuff. Some worked, some didn't, but there is no going back. Remember that Columbus's crew mutinied near the end of the first voyage to the New World and the crew gave Chris three days, of which he just one left, when late one night flies were seen buzzing around a lantern indicating that land was near. Keep watching these guys for bugs and keep a look out for the bright world of flourishing American enterprise in the near distance.