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Midwest Venture Summit disappoints; Cato grades Midwest governors

Herewith the latest of irregular alarums and excursions relevant to the world of Midwest technology entrepreneurs:

How Do You Spell Success?


Last week, the Midwest Venture Summit was held in Chicago and featured about 30 early stage companies. About 10 were sponsored by the Chicago chapter of the Keiretsu Forum.

Though about 60 individual professional investors were registered to attend, an unofficial count estimated that half were no-shows and some big-name, Midwest-based institutional investors didn't register.

Ultimately, attendance depends on a critical mass of quality presenting firms. If you had an opportunity to hear more than a handful of presenters and would like to offer an informed opinion about the overall quality of the presenters, this column offers you a platform to opine.

Grading the Governors


The libertarian Cato Institute recently issued its latest "fiscal report card on America's governors." The table below shows the generally depressing grades for seven Midwest governors (Indiana's governor is new in office) and the top grade earners nationally as well as each governor's political party:



Cato's rankings are based on 15 criteria.
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The best grades are generally earned by "states that keep taxes low and restrain spending growth" because that promotes "the best economic performance and thus the best long-term fiscal health," according to Cato. Note that there is a good correlation between a governor's political party and the strength of his grade.

Sometimes you feel like a nut


From Red Herring:
The constant barrage of e-mails, text messages and phone calls decreases IQ test scores in office workers more than twice as much as smoking marijuana, British researchers reported. Environments with distracting technologies lower IQ by an average of more than 10 points when compared with quiet conditions.

By comparison, other research has shown that smoking marijuana causes just a four-point drop. A 10-point reduction is similar to the impact of missing an entire night's sleep.

Never again?


While France may be an economic basket case, a "VC Experts" newsletter reported that the country has become the European leader in private equity investments. This edges out Germany whose own economy is in the tank.

Perhaps this is related to John Fund's column in the Wall Street Journal about Germany's largest trade union depicting U.S. investors in Germany as "bloodsuckers" and Chancellor Schroeder calling for more regulation of U.S. investors if they insist on streamlining German companies.

A German blogger noted the union attack bore a striking resemblance to 1930s Nazi propaganda against Jews. Perhaps U.S. investors should start looking homeward.

Let's hear it for the good guys


Business Week recently reported online on the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), which "partners with schools and community groups to teach young people in economically deprived areas how to run a business":
NFTE now works with nearly 20,000 kids each year in 45 states and 16 countries. By teaching young people basic business concepts such as business-plan writing, marketing, negotiation and pricing, the foundation helps them "channel dreams into reality."

Stigmatized a generation ago as the career choice for people who couldn't find a "conventional" job, entrepreneurship now commands respect and even admiration.

Tell me something I don't know!


CNET reports on the emerging legal threat to tech entrepreneurs resulting from new federal rules on overtime pay. It's no surprise that the report says those rules "are pretty close to incomprehensible":

For employers, the uncertainty could lead to new headaches in calculating who gets overtime pay and a higher risk of lawsuits to sort out whether they got it right. In addition, industry leaders claim [that] overtime litigation and rules ... threaten to undermine the entrepreneurial spirit and economic viability of technology companies.

[Though] long hours have long been a part of the computer industry, they?ve been declining in the software world.

In addition, intense stretches of work in the tech world frequently have been rewarded in ways other than overtime pay. Companies in Silicon Valley and other tech Meccas have doled out relatively high salaries, work-site perks, a degree of professional independence and a chance for a big stock payoff.

But that employment compact has come under new scrutiny. Many tech professionals who began their careers as singles now have families. [This makes] them more eager to leave the office in time for dinner at home.

Employees throughout the industry also may feel less loyal after the wave of job cuts that came with the dot-com collapse and as some jobs move offshore. The financial incentive to sleep under one's desk has ebbed in the post-Internet bubble era.


Darrell Dvorak is a partner with Tatum Partners. Formerly, he worked in senior roles at Skokie, Ill.-based Searle (now owned by Pfizer) and Ameritech (now SBC). Dvorak can be reached at ddvorak@tatumcfo.com. This article has been syndicated on the Wisconsin Technology Network courtesy of ePrairie, a user-driven business and technology news community distributed via the Web, the wireless Web and free daily e-mail newsletters.

The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, & do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.

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