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Merrill Lynch: Surf’s Up!

I had a great time at the 16th Annual Merrill Lynch Private Equity CFO Conference this year, as always. I've spent a lot of time (15 years!) in my career on the Entrepreneur<-->VC connection, but only since 2003 have I started learning about the VC<-->LP connection (or, perhaps, more correctly stated as the GP<-->LP connection). Turns out, there are a ton of similarities, and I learn more about the nuances of fund accounting, life-cycle, and the Business Model (and "product") of Venture Capital firms each day.

The event attracted about 140 firms, from VC to PE to Service Providers.

It's always fun to hang out with the CFOs and Controllers of some of the best firms in Venture Capital. And, they can be found at this event. These are the folks who diligently take care of all the details of running the VC business. They deal with a different set of issues than a usual CFO of a VC-funded startup. While the title of the event says "Private Equity", it is clear that this event draws more from the Venture Capital specialty, which allows the material to be better targeted.

A key part of the event is a selection of fun networking activities set up by the Merrill Lynch Venture Services Group (who do a very nice job with the conference -- at a very reasonable price). I was fortunate enough to go surfing (for the first time!) with 19 other conference attendees from firms such as: Focus Ventures, Elevation Partners, Willowridge Inc., Merrill Lynch, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Pinnacle Ventures, US Venture Partners, JP Morgan, RR Donnelley, Tam Ventures, HRJ Capital, and Caltius Capital Management. Surfing is pretty darn hard. Especially for a "dude" over 40, like me. Here's a picture celebrating the fact that there were no deaths or serious injury:

Of particular note on Day 1:

  • The Endowment & Foundation Perspectives -- A Panel Discussion on the State of the Private Equity/VC Asset Class, with John Dado of Cooley Godward Moderating, John Powers of Stanford Management Company, Jennifer Urdan of Cambridge Associates, and John Jenks of The James Irvine Foundation speaking.

  • PE Market UPDATE: What Your LP Is Thinking, But Not Saying, co-hosted by Dan Frank of Cooley Godward and David Larsen of KPMG.

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