Why I Joined the NVCA Board of DirectorsShare
By Jason Green
This past week I was inducted to serve on the board of directors for the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), the largest and most influential professional organization for the venture capital community whose membership comprises over 90% of professional VC firms in the US. It’s an honor and privilege to have been selected by my peers but also a tremendous responsibility, and one that I thought long and hard about before taking on. It’s a four-year commitment, requiring the same level of attention and caring as any private company board. I wanted to share my thinking on the decision, some initial impressions and also ask for your feedback on what you believe are the most important issues facing the entrepreneurial community that I can address during my tenure.
The NVCA operates out of the limelight, mostly behind the scenes in Washington as a sort of archangel for the venture community and the entrepreneurs we serve. Having just attended my first board meeting, I was blown away with the level of professionalism and insight of the organization in understanding the dynamics in Washington and how to direct efforts in the service of entrepreneurial innovation and job growth—the two tenants of the NVCA and our industry. The organization has built an incredible and trusted brand in Washington by practicing a conscientious, informed and pragmatic approach over many decades, rather than just throwing money at high-paid lobbyists. As a result, the NVCA actually can make a difference.
I liken our entrepreneurial ecosystem to a fragile, diverse and beautiful coral reef. The NVCA acts to protect the reef and its inhabitants from the inevitable unintended consequences of broader legislation and over-regulation. As a small industry, we are rarely given center stage, but we certainly feel the effects of collateral damage. For example, legislation such as Sarbanes-Oxley has had devastating impacts on the ability of young companies to go public over the last decade. An overburdened FDA has drastically reduced the rate of innovation in our health care system. Immigration restrictions have sapped our access to talented human capital required to scale our companies. Together, these and many other issues can create significant deleterious impacts on our entrepreneurial ecosystem and thus stifle the rate of innovation and job growth in our economy. The NVCA tackles these challenges, among many others, and has made significant progress on a number of fronts.
Recently, the organization played center stage in legislation to reduce the negative impact of Sarbanes-Oxley on young, growing companies with the successful passage of the JOBS Act of 2012. This effort was spearheaded by NVCA Board members (notably Kate Mitchell from Scale) and the amazing staff of the NVCA (notably Jennifer Dowling), and it will save young growing companies from spending hundreds of millions of dollars in resources to comply with overly burdensome accounting and regulatory compliance measures designed for much larger companies. I must admit that I was pretty skeptical of getting anything done in Washington, but the passage of this bill gave me great hope. I’m now very optimistic that, with guidance from the staff at NVCA and a determined effort, we really can make a difference.
As an investment firm, making great investments is, of course, paramount to our success. However, supporting a healthy ecosystem that protects and supports entrepreneurship is the most critical component in the longer term. I am excited to have an opportunity to make a difference for the broader entrepreneurial ecosystem and to reduce the friction for great entrepreneurs blazing the trail of innovation. I would love your feedback and thoughts on how to maximize the impact during my tenure.