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A few things Mark Wallace

Month: August 2012

Exploring the Next Capitalism at South by Southwest

It’s pimping season for the South-by-Southwest Interactive festival, and of course I’m pimping a panel I’ve proposed:

How the Next Capitalism Can Meet Global Challenges” is the nifty-enough title that you still have a few days to vote for. Voting closes at the end of August. Read more about the panel — and vote! — at the link above, or here: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/3986

I’m planning the panel with an old friend, Eric Nonacs, who’s been working on sustainable economic and social development for many years, both in non-profits and the private sector, notably as an advisor to Bill Clinton at the Clinton Foundation and as an organizer of the annual Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York. The panel (if it gets accepted — that link again: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/3986 ) would be the culmination of a long-running conversation Eric and I have had about new approaches to business, the economy, and capitalism itself, and could be the start of an interesting project.

Essentially, we’re exploring business and economics from a point of view that’s neither Wall Street nor Occupy Wall Street, but which looks at how capitalism could evolve to meet the challenges we’re facing at the moment — challenges that current systems and practices are insufficient to tackling: things like climate change, income inequality, structural unemployment, and a host of others.

We’ve come to the conclusion that a careful examination of the economic and political landscape will reveal new approaches that can help make real progress toward solutions on issues like the above. But it will take an evolution in the systems we have now, rather than a revolution. It’s not that we have the answers, but we are interested in how we can help discover the future of business, define its tools and techniques, and disrupt a landscape that no longer serves the public, the country, or the world.

If you’re interested in a similar dialogue, please help us get our presentation on the South-by-Southwest schedule by voting for it at http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/3986 before the end of August, and forwarding this email to anyone you think may be interested. Of course, the PanelPicker counts for only about 30% of the decisionmaking weight this year, so if you want to help by lobbying SXSW advisors or staff, please feel free!

Hope to see you in Austin.

Y Combinator Over-Inflates Startup Valuations? Don’t Think So

I can’t subscribe to the view — put forth in a recent Business Insider piece on startup valuations — that the Y Combinator program is driving startup valuations higher across the board. And in fact, the article strikes me as a fairly shallow take on the issue. It collects a mess of unattributed quotes (as well as quotes from one or two attributable sources), and does very little of the due diligence you’d hope to get out of a journalist with a calculator and/or a Google spreadsheet to hand. Math aside, it completely fails to take any kind of close look at the startup market itself, and instead slavishly regurgitates the (again: overwhelmingly unattributed) quotes that the reporter has collected.

If you take a little time to assess the market, a different picture emerges. Continue reading

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