Just a reminder, these posts are not legal advice. This site is the personal blog of Mark Radcliffe and the opinions expressed are those of Mark Radcliffe and not those of his clients, DLA Piper or the clients of DLA Piper.

About Me:

Mark Radcliffe

I have been practicing law in Silicon Valley for over thirty years assisting startups and global companies develop and market innovative products and services. I have participated in multiple business cyles in Silicon Valley from hardware to software to internet to cloud. My projects have included developing the dual licensing business model for open source startup, developing the original domain dispute resolution policy for NSI and assisting Sun in open sourcing the Solaris operating system. Recently, I served on the US Japan Innovation and Entrepreneurship Council (one of ten members) to develop a plan to encourage the innovation in Japan and the United States. I have been working with the same attorneys since 1986 although we have merged with other law firms several times. I am now a partner at DLA Piper, a (relatively) new global law firm formed in 2005 from the merger of three law firms. The firm now has 4200 lawyers in 31 countries and 77 cities. My experience in corporate securities (particularly venture capital) and intellectual property enables me to assist companies structure the financing and intellectual property strategy for developing ane exploiting a new product or service. I and my team work with fifty startups at one time as well as Global Fortune 100. I have been fortunate enough to work with companies in software, cloud computing, semiconductor, health care IT and Web 2.0.

The results are in for the first quarter in venture investing and they are positive. After a tough 2009, the first quarter resulted in a significant increase in venture capital investing. The Dow Jones report for global venture capital investments increased by 13% over last year US continues to take the lead with 65% of deals by numbers (and 67% by value). This growth is confirmed by my discussions with Silicon Valley Bank who have told me that they have seen a significant increase in the number of new bank accounts opened for startups. In fact, SVB told me that the number of new accounts in March was more than all of the accounts opened in both January and February.  This increase reflects the general optimism expressed in DLA Piper’s 2010  Technology Leaders Survey.

The growth in the US was roughly the same as the global average at 12%.  Venture capitalists invested $4.7 billion in 578 deals. And the shift in the relative amounts of investment among industries continues to shift. For a long time, IT represented more than 50% of deals, yet in the first quarter, IT was only 32% of the deals. The IT investments in the first quarter represented a 15% increase over the same period last year.  However,  the cleantech category increased by more than 69% in the same period. 

But I think that these comparisons in the IT sector may mask the new reality of starting software and web companies where the cost of developing a product has plunged due to the use of open source software and cloud services.  In the past, a software startup would need to buy its own servers and proprietary software development tools, representing significant capital expenditures.  Now, most of my software companies use open source and other pre-existing software to “assemble” their products and host them on the cloud. They require much less money to start; and they wait to seek traditional venture capital until they are much further along in product development and distribution.