A panel of accomplished Yale SOM alumni from the technology and venture capital fields discuss their experiences and reflect on the current state of venture capital; disruptive new models for raising financing, such as social media; and the outlook for the industry. The panel was moderated by Yale SOM Professor Olav Sorenson. Over three hundred people joined the online discussion, including about sixty from outside of the US, including people in China, India, Europe, Africa and Latin America. Listen to the discussion here. The panelists were Vispi Daver '01, a partner at Sierra Ventures responsible for cross-border investments in India and software investments in the United States; Max Ventilla '06, the cofounder of Aardvark, a social search company acquired by Google, and the head of Google's cross-product personalization efforts; and Katie Rae '97, managing director of the startup accelerator TechStars and founder of the venture fund Project 11. Bios Vispi Daver '01, Partner, Sierra Ventures Vispi Daver is a Partner at Sierra Ventures and is responsible for software investments in the US and for driving the Firm's cross-border investments in India. Vispi serves on the boards of Payvment, Parature, Revionics, Razorsight and CarWale-India (Acquired by Axel Springer) and is a board observer at Approva (Acquired by Infor), MakeMyTrip.com (Nasdaq. MMYT), Greenplum (Acquired by EMC) and Code Green Networks. Vispi is also on the advisory board of Seedfund, a seed stage venture fund based in India. While at Sierra he has also served as VP of Business Development at one of the Firm's portfolio companies, Sourcefire (NASD: FIRE). Prior to Sierra Ventures, Vispi's tenure includes a broad range of operational roles in the United States and India. He was in the Corporate Development group at Network Associates (McAfee, Inc.), a large-cap public company in infrastructure software, where his responsibilities covered acquisitions, divestitures and strategic investments. Prior to McAfee, Vispi ran product management for myCIO.com, a company that pioneered the delivery of desktop software online through the Internet. myCIO.com was among the first software companies to deliver product in a Software as a Services (SaaS) format. Vispi has an MBA with Distinction from Yale University and a BS in Combined Sciences from Santa Clara University. Olav Sorenson, Professor of Organizational Behavior, Yale School of Management (Moderator) Professor Sorenson's research interests include economic geography, economic sociology, entrepreneurship, organizational ecology, the sociology and management of science and technology, and business and corporate strategy. His most extensive line of research examines how social networks affect transactions, thereby shaping the geography and evolution of industries. Although Professor Sorenson has investigated these issues in a wide variety of settings, including banking, biotechnology, and footwear manufacturing, he has most extensively studied the entertainment industries and venture capital. Prior to joining the Yale School of Management, Professor Sorenson held the Jeffrey S. Skoll Chair in Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. He has also taught at the University of Chicago, UCLA, and London Business School. Katie Rae '97, Managing Director, TechStars Katie Rae is the Managing Director of TechStars in Boston and is also a founder of Project 11, a firm that invests in and assists early-stage startups. Katie specializes in rapid product development and customer growth strategies for Internet businesses that scale. She has spent her career building significant Internet businesses in the community, self-publishing and search spaces. Most recently she was the Head of Product for Microsoft Startup Labs, an early stage product development lab focused on collaboration, location-based services and social applications, where concepts were tested for consumer enthusiasm. Before that she was SVP of Product at Eons, a business focused on new products for 50+ community. Katie pioneered early freemium business models at Lycos for the Tripod and Angelfire communities. She learned the ropes of product and business development at AltaVista, RagingBull, Zip2 and Mirror Worlds. She holds an MBA from Yale University and a BA in Biology from Oberlin College. Max Ventilla '06, Senior Product Manager, Google Inc. Max Ventilla was the cofounder and CEO of Aardvark, a social search company acquired by Google in early 2010. At Google, he heads the company's cross-product personalization efforts. Previously, he was one of the product managers working on Google+ since the inception of that project and managed the team responsible for Google's unified header (served to over a billion daily users in more than 100 countries). Outside work, he is the happy father of a newborn daughter and is an avid angel investor and chef.
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