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Ann's full bioAnita Borg

1 What inspired you to start Hummer-Winblad Venture Partners?

2 What do you like best about your job at Hummer-Winblad?

3 Who were the people who inspired you/heroes when you were growing up?

4 What career events and professional experiences readied you for the venture capital world? With that, what advice could you give aspiring VC's?

5 What can an entrepreneur do to hold your attention?

6 What is inspiring you in the software industry today?

7 Has the Internet's velocity , "Internet time", and Internet economics changed HW's approach to investment in certain segments or markets?

8 What do you feel has been the most important factor in your success?

9 Have you ever been intimidated by technology and if so, what do you do to change it?

10 How will companies be run differently in the new century?

11 What is your opinion on eHow.com's progress and development?

12 What advice do you have for young women just starting out?

13 Do you see any barriers as a woman in the VC world?

14 Were there any specific career events that readied you to be a VC?

15 Can you share any mistakes that you have made in your career?

16 What do you think you will be doing in ten years?

17 Any parting words of advice?

Ann Winblad, Founding Partner,
Hummer – Winblad Venture Partners


Our special guest today is Ann Winblad, Partner, Hummer - Winblad Venture Partners, a $200 million fund focused exclusively on software investments. Ann Winblad is a well known and respected software industry entrepreneur and technology leader; she has been distinguished as one of the most influential people in the digital age by Business Week, Fortune, Upside and Time magazines. Prior to co-founding Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Ms. Winblad co-founded an accounting software company, Open Systems, Inc. in 1976 with a $500 investment that she operated profitably for six years and then sold the company for over $15 million.

We are honored to have Ann with us today. Welcome Ann!

Ann: Thanks.

guest-Tanya asks: What inspired you to start Hummer-Winblad Venture Partners?

Ann: I had recently sold my own company and met John Hummer in California and I had made commitments to do consulting and write a technical book. But John kept hounding me to become his partner and start this firm. So I finally gave in after all the hounding about working with him.

guest-Kim asks: What do you like best about your job at Hummer-Winblad?

Ann: First of all, it's very challenging. Every company has its unique strategy and business model. The challenges are very exciting. The market today also attaches a high value to software Internet companies. It's exciting to start companies from scratch in this marketplace.

guest-Stephanie says: Who were the people who inspired you/heroes when you were growing up?

Ann: I grew up in a very small town, and I didn't think of myself as having heroes, but people who inspired me. I enjoyed going to school. So I would say all of my teachers.

guest-jmp asks: Ann, what career events and professional experiences readied you for the venture capital world? With that, what advice could you give aspiring VC's?

Ann: It's a very challenging job being a VC these days, much more than it was before. It's a competitive market for companies and investors. You're going to put yourself in a coaching role. So to coach the team well you should know how to play the sport. So I would advise those who want to be venture capitalists to be entrepreneurs as well.

guest-Debbie asks: What can an entrepreneur do to hold your attention?

Ann: We get thousands and thousands of business cards each year. It's useful for entrepreneurs to join these entrepreneurs' organizations. One of the companies I funded I met at the Software Development Forum in LA. I try to make myself accessible. It's a good idea also to find a good lawyer and accountant. They are two good contacts to help you get introductions so that you fall to the top of the noise pile.

guest-Roberta says: What is inspiring you in the software industry today?

Ann: It's great to see the new names in the marketplace.

guest-rosannee says: Has the Internet's velocity, "Internet time", and Internet economics changed HW's approach to investment in certain segments or markets?
Ann: It's changed. Everyone has had to change our investment strategy. We have to make decisions faster. Yes and no decisions. We've had to do everything faster. It has changed our investing style.

guest-Diane says: What do you feel has been the most important factor in your success?

Ann: The reason I love this industry — it's been my entire career — all these years of experience has really helped me. I get a kick out of working with all these young entrepreneurs. It's exciting to watch people mature before your eyes. It's exciting to see people who grew up with nothing get wealthy. Taking the role as an integral part of growing in this industry has been extremely exciting.

Moderator: That's great Ann! Very inspiring!

guest-Kim asks: Have you ever been intimidated by technology and if so, what do you do to change it?

Ann: I've never quite been intimidated by technology. I started my career as a computer programmer. I've been more intrigued than intimidated.

guest-Shannon says: How will companies be run differently in the new century?

Ann: I think we have moved to a style that pushes a very flat organization that is run by teams rather than individuals. You don't have time for decision-making to go up and down the organization. That style of leadership is starting to infiltrate corporations throughout America.

guest-chet asks: What is your opinion on eHow.com's progress and development?

Ann: I'm very excited about e-How. We funded it in December of 1999. We set high goals for the company, and the company has exceeded their goals. They are setting the standards for a new company called contextual commerce.

Moderator: What advice do you have for young women just starting out?

Ann: Set your goals very high. If you're not ready to be a leader, find a place where you can learn great leadership skills. Everyone is learning in real time. So my best advice is: Get in the game, find a great company to work with, and when you're ready, go start your own.

Moderator: Do you see any barriers as a woman in the VC world?

Ann: Not really. It's a very competitive world. Like the regular entrepreneurial world. If you are a woman in the VC world, that's part of the playing field.

Moderator: Were there any specific career events that readied you to be a VC?

Ann: There were a couple. When I sold my company — it was acquired by Greg Lemont. Greg was terrific. There were a lot of things I learned from him that I wouldn't learn on my own. Then working with John, I learned a lot about moving from being a player to being a coach.

Moderator: Can you share any mistakes that you have made in your career?

Ann: I think everyday all of us make mistakes — it's the only way to learn. Many VC's make more sins of omission than sins of selection. Those are the companies that we look over rather than the ones we invest in. We probably have past over some companies that will be quite successful. But we try to focus on what we've learned rather than what mistakes we've made.

Moderator: What do you think you will be doing in ten years?

Ann: Who knows! I could not have ever imagined the past ten years and how they've unveiled themselves. Our fund is just 10 years old. The past four years have been exhilarating. We haven't had time to stop and look what we'll be doing in the next 10 years. I hope to be part of the technology industry as long as I can add value.

Moderator: Unfortunately, Ann has to take an important call, so we will end our chat early today. Any parting words?

Ann: Thank you for having me. And good luck to all you young entrepreneurs out there.

 
 
 
 


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