Ann Winblad

Speaking of Gates, my wife and I attended a dinner hosted by the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Northwest. The speaker was Ann Winblad. She is most famous as one of Gates' old girlfriends. She's actually an accomplished Venture Capitalist working out of the San Jose area.

Her feeling is that we are finally digging out of the VC "free money" extravaganza that caused the big meltdown in 1999 - 2001.

She also said a big sea change is underway, where all kinds of investments that the VC community would have avoided in the past are okay now - consumer products, vertically integrated businesses, and the big win right now is service oriented businesses. Her view is that the infrastructure technology for gluing services together is sufficiently advanced that it now makes sense to build a company focused on a particular market segment - for instance, accounting for hog farmers - rather than a big monolithic product like Oracle or SAP - and to rent the software to the hog farmer rather than selling it.

The funnist moment, which most people didn't notice, was when she said, "Venture Capitalists have opinions. Everyone has an opinion. Opinions are .... are .... opinions .... everyone has an opinion, right?" You could tell she really was about to say, "Opinions are like assholes - everyone has one," but decided midstream to reconsider her use of the word "asshole" with the MIT crowd.

I enjoyed the evening and it was fun having my wife along. The guy sitting next to me was responsible for Xbox hardware quality, so we chatted some about the game business. That was fun too. My wife is in charge of our investments and she chatted with the lady next to her about investing.

And the food was okay too.