Explaining Southern California's economy

VC in SC: A panel discussion at KPCC

CFF VC Panel

Venture Capital in Southern California panel. From right, KPCC's Matthew DeBord, Rustic Canyon Partners' Nate Redmond, Idealab's Alex Maleki, and Ben Kuo from socalTECH.

Last night, I sat down with Nate Redmond of Rustic Canyon Partners, Ben Kuo of socalTech, and Alex Maleki of Idealab's newly formed New Ventures Group to talk VC in SoCal.

We enjoyed a lively and informative 90 minutes of discussion at the Crawford Family Forum with plenty of good questions from the full-house audience (Thank you, KPCC community!)

I'm going to post some outtakes from the event, but one of things that struck me, for whatever reason, was a recent grad who asked the panel about how to break into venture capital as a career. This got my attention because VC is a relatively new option in professional finance (dating back to the late 1960s and early 1970s) and because, well...most young people seem to want to start companies, not fund them.

That said, in my experience VCs, at every level, are interesting people, glad to share their knowledge and committed to the idea of entrepreneurship, innovation, and a positive future. I wasn't surprised that Nate Redmond's advice was simple but insightly. 

Read More...

California housing prices: Case-Shiller say what?

Mercer 13824

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

A bank foreclosure sale sign is posted in front of townhomes on August 12, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.

From the LA Times:

Home prices in the California cities are comparatively healthy despite the state's high unemployment rate, because the markets tracked by the index are close to key job centers such as Hollywood and Silicon Valley and are also near the ocean -- where overbuilding was relatively constrained. The index does not track prices in California's Central Valley or the Inland Empire, where housing is still weak.

For background, the unemployment rate in Cali is just south of 12 percent. The latest Case-Shiller index, which tracks housing prices in major cities, showed modest month-over-month declines from August to September 2011, in Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco.

Modest, but still headed down. So price deflation in the California housing market continues. And nobody seems to know where the floor is, at least in the Case-Shiller cities. 

Read More...

Visual Aid: Southern California lagging in metro GDP growth

This chart is disturbing. It's from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and it summarizes percentage change in real GDP growth for U.S. metropolitan areas from 2009 to 2010. Have a gander at the lower left hand corner of our fair mainland (not Alaska and Hawaii). That large area of middling and lower-than-middling improvement is SoCal. In fact, the entire state managed a feeble performance — with the obvious exception of that little bit of overachieving dark blue: Silicon Valley.

For contrast — and tale of two years — here's the 2009 chart:

Source: BEA

Read More...