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How the players in the innovation economy rationalize away stock market dives

Posted by Scott Kirsner  August 4, 2011 09:20 PM

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Everyone who works in the start-up realm — whether tech, biotech, cleantech, or other — tends to live in the future. All day long, they're working on products that will be launched and sold in a month or a year or a decade.

So when the stock market soars or swoons, they tend to ignore it. "That's today's news. We're tomorrow's," the thinking goes, no matter how many points the Dow has lost.

Of course, vertiginous plunges in the public markets do tend to impact young companies which must continually raise venture capital money, and which hope to one day go public themselves or be acquired by a bigger entity. They're bad news, as we saw in 2000 and 2008.

But here's how the various players in the innovation economy rationalize away stock market drops and other macro-economic bad mojo...

Venture capitalists: "We are counter-cyclical investors." "Economic slumps are the best times to start a company." "We can invest less and own a bigger chunk." "We're a top-decile firm. We won't be hurt by a shake-out in the VC industry."

Angel investors: "At least the VCs won't be falling all over themselves to invest in my companies and cram me down."

Entrepreneurs: "We'll do better without so many me-too companies getting funded." "My entire net worth is wrapped up in this company. What do I care about the stock market?" "We're developing a product that will disrupt the established players. There are always customers for that." "I don't regret turning down that $100 million acquisition offer last week. The IPO window will open again."

Employees: "It'll be nice not to be distracted by all of those calls from recruiters offering me jobs at other companies." "I never wanted to sell any of my shares on SecondMarket anyway."

Investment bankers: "Without so many IPOs to manage, I'll get to spend more time at my place on Nantucket."

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About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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