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Philip Smith
Experienced business professional ready to provide advice, guidance, counsel and hands-on assistance to early stage technology companies to develop, grow and manage their businesses worldwide
Interests: Food and wine, internet, rugby, cricket, British football (soccer), Alan Furst novels, history of the 20th century, technology, gadgets, startups ....
Recent Activity
Boy, the longer I deal with early-stage tech companies the more I'm amazed by the prevalence of teams that operate without founder stock vesting. As you know, most startups get going with a team of two or three folks coalescing... Continue reading
Posted Feb 24, 2011 at Silicon Valley Frontlines
Last Christmas Eve I did a post titled "A Beacon of Hope This Holiday Season ..." about the San Francisco Homeless PreNatal Program. Still there in their 20th year, still doing great work! If you supported them last year as... Continue reading
Posted Dec 24, 2010 at Silicon Valley Frontlines
The good folks at Mashable just published a list of the Ten Hottest Private Companies in Tech, based on a survey by SecondMarket. SecondMarket is a rapidly growing exchange offering (among other things) the opportunity for sellers and buyers to... Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2010 at Silicon Valley Frontlines
David, spot on! I've been working in the Valley with startups coming here from Spain, Italy, UK - all over Europe really - and the big reason they're here is the (lack of) funding to get an idea off the ground, and then the (lack of) ecosystem to help nurture, grow and develop from there. Even the vague initiatives of easy government loans to get going in places like Spain backfire because the few early stage VC's look at that money as a way to put in LESS themselves and have LESS dilution, instead of leveraging the heck out of it. That has happened to at least one Barcelona company I work with. Another, a SAAS company also from Barcelona, is very proud of their 20% EBITDA on a $3m revenue expectation, almost doubling from the prior year. But if you look deeper the real issue is that by not reinvesting the profits in hiring and sales they are missing the opportunity to seize a market by the scruff of the neck and make it theirs. In fact they need to take VC money to really press the pedal down. As you well know, profits in a rapidly growing SAAS business get deferred as you reinvest in gaining more new accounts, renewals etc. But there is no ecosystem or experience there to guide and mentor the Spanish founders in that thought process. And its hard to provide that guidance from here (the Valley) ... Urgh! So much potential ....
Toggle Commented Dec 14, 2010 on Building Great Startups in Europe at VentureBlog
Buying a new car falls directly into that category of "things you hate to do but love the result". Everyone loves to be driving a new car but nobody likes the process of negotiating with dealers to get one. Price... Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2010 at Silicon Valley Frontlines
When I first moved to the U.S. from England many years ago - more than I care to remember - I needed a visa to work here. The company that hired me brought me in under an H-1, which is... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2010 at Silicon Valley Frontlines
One key indicator of the health of the broader Silicon Valley startup environment (my definition includes startups located pretty much anywhere in the greater Bay Area including San Francisco, Emeryville, San Mateo etc.) is the confidence in hiring plans evidenced... Continue reading
Posted Oct 13, 2010 at Silicon Valley Frontlines
As noted many times before, the availability of funding for startups is heavily influenced by the state of the market for exits - IPO's or acquisitions. If investors don't think they will be able to exit an investment down the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2010 at Silicon Valley Frontlines
Ok, here's my belated follow up and conclusion from Part 1 of Top Ten Start-Up Mistakes from the Orrick event last month! Mistake #5: Not Recognizing When to Supplement or Shrink the Team Founders who fear bringing in the right... Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2010 at Silicon Valley Frontlines
I spent some time at Orrick's "Top 10 Start-Up Mistakes" event this morning, part of their Total Access series. Despite their size Orrick is a great law firm for early-stage companies (they have a dedicated practice for that group under... Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2010 at Silicon Valley Frontlines
If you want to get a first-hand, very intimate view of growing a successful business in Silicon Valley in the age of the internet then listen to this 30-minute segment from BBC Radio 4's In Business programme (listen online or... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2010 at Silicon Valley Frontlines
One of my LinkedIn groups, "European Entrepreneurship & Innovation @ Silicon Valley" has an active discussion thread going on about where the next Silicon Valley might be. I thought it would be interesting to share with you my own contribution... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2010 at Silicon Valley Frontlines
I was planning a post about why it doesn't make any sense for a Silicon Valley startup to bank with a main street retail outfit because, in general, these banks have no idea how to work with or support a... Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2010 at Silicon Valley Frontlines
Even for startups it makes sense to carry insurance coverage against potential losses to the business, or claims that may be made against it. Unfortunately we live in litigious times and being small - and being right - doesn't mean... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2010 at Silicon Valley Frontlines
I'm startled to see how long it's been since I last wrote in this blog - almost 2 months! There's no shortage of interesting things to talk about, just a severe shortage of time to do so. I suppose it's... Continue reading
Posted May 30, 2010 at Silicon Valley Frontlines
As I've noted before, there are many companies now in the backlog of IPO's filed but not yet completed. One of them, the cleantech company Solyndra, is worth taking a closer look at because of its rather unique characteristics. This... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2010 at Silicon Valley Frontlines
With prompting from Fred Wilson's recent blog post regarding accounting for startups, my own recent experience makes me revisit the topic of finding a good bookkeeper or accountant early in your startup's life. (At this point many entrepreneurs will switch... Continue reading
Posted Mar 28, 2010 at Silicon Valley Frontlines
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Mar 15, 2010
Back in October I wrote about U.S. immigration policy and how frustrating this is for entrepreneurs trying to come here and start new businesses. I mentioned two European startups having challenges on this front and since then I have a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2010 at Silicon Valley Frontlines
In one of my posts back in December I suggested the Valley might be in for an IPO boom. This is based largely on comments from a partner friend of mine at PriceWaterhouse Coopers who told me that perhaps 40... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2010 at Silicon Valley Frontlines
In my recent blog I noted that the volume of venture financing completed in the fourth quarter of last year improved somewhat - at least compared to the experience of the previous 9 - 12 months. [I also said that... Continue reading
Posted Feb 21, 2010 at Silicon Valley Frontlines
I went to a session the other day to get the update on PriceWaterhouse Coopers quarterly "MoneyTree" VC funding trend report and thought you'd be interested in some of the observations. If you're in the Valley and likely to be... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2010 at Silicon Valley Frontlines
The Canopy Financial fiasco (see my posts from late last year) highlights a very basic question (in that case, among many basic questions): "Why do so many fast growing startups not have a CFO?"Here's an interesting table (I think it's... Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2010 at Silicon Valley Frontlines
Working for equity only is, realistically, the way most startups have to get going. True founders - the gritty, enthusiastic, determined, change-the-world, passionate types - will do this for a long time, including well after they start paying others on... Continue reading
Posted Jan 23, 2010 at Silicon Valley Frontlines
Or, how to be insanely great in front of any audience! I found this on SlideShare and it reminds me of one of the big things I learned this year (I'll do a post soon on some of the other... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2009 at Silicon Valley Frontlines