More venture capital, less venture politics
WSJ.com REVIEW & OUTLOOK 3/12/11: With little growth in the labor force, slow growth in GDP and the government running a $223 billion February deficit, it may be hard to get optimistic about the economy. But we're happy to note that one important indicator is rising.
|Venture Capitalist Al Gore|
This year's top start-ups include companies pursuing treatments for cancer, glaucoma and bacterial infections, one firm developing incisionless surgery techniques, plus a range of companies creating online publishing tools, software and hardware for mobile communications and new data-storage technologies. No "green-tech" companies joined the list this year, though solar-cell maker Suniva and Recycle Rewards, which partners with cities to increase recycling, remain from last year's top 50.
Gone from this year's list are companies like Solyndra, a favorite of President Obama that received a $535 million federal loan guarantee but had a harder time attracting customers for its pricey solar panels. The money-losing company scrapped plans for an initial public offering last year.
Fewer politically favored companies means that venture capital is affirming its traditional role of funding companies based on breakthrough technology or quality management, rather than betting on politicians to pass cap and trade or taxpayer subsidies. The venture industry's future can be as exciting as its past if investments go to businesses designed to serve consumers, not political agendas.