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May 26, 2010

Silicon Valley Venture Capitalists Visit Russia for Investment Search, Networking

A delegation of 20 leaders from prominent Silicon Valley venture capital funds visited Moscow this week to learn about Russia's growing investment potential.

During the three-day trip, delegates met the movers and shakers of the Russian technology markets, including members of the Russian business elite, famous entrepreneurs, major law firms and investment banks, technology executives and local investors, as well as key government officials.

The delegation includes leaders from: Accel Partners (News - Alert), August Capital, Atlas Venture, Bessemer Venture Partners, Canaan Partners, Sofinnova Ventures, JK&B Capital, Emergence Capital, Mohr Davidow Ventures, Domain Associates, the Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati law firm, Asset Management Company, Alloy Ventures, EDventure, Siguler Guff & Company, Index Ventures, Almaz Capital Partners, Draper, Fisher & Jurvetson, Trident Capital and Wellington Partners.

The estimated total value of assets managed by these funds is over $60 billion. The aggregate investment portfolio of these companies includes more than six thousand brands.

'What Russia needs is not so much money as good customers - clients and users who demand useful innovations and who want projects implemented on time,' says Esther Dyson, a director of Russian search company Yandex and member of the Russian Government's Advisory Commission on its Silicon Valley Project.  'The members of the delegation are coming not just as investors but also as role models.'

'Venture capital is a business that is based on trusted relationships.  Meeting Russian entrepreneurs, business leaders, and potential co-investors will start to give U.S. venture investors the comfort and familiarity that should lead to more investment in Russian startups. Innovation and great entrepreneurs are not stopped by national borders; venture capitalists shouldn't be either,' said Don Wood, managing director at Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

Although such technology giants as Microsoft, Alcatel, Boeing (News - Alert), Google, Intel, Motorola, Oracle, Samsung, and Sun Microsystems have long had branches in Russia, global venture capitalists began to look closely at Russia only quite recently.

The visit was organized by the American Business Association of Russian-speaking Professionals together with the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies. The delegation also included representatives from the U.S. State Department.

'The main goal for Rusnano in cooperation with Western venture funds is not capital, but their expertise, knowledge on how to grow a high-tech company, and management experience. We look forward to finding a common ground and bringing US start-ups and their technology to Russia,' said Anatoly Chubais, CEO of Rusnano.

 AmBAR is a non-profit business association of Russian-speaking entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, engineers, lawyers and other professionals working in the high-tech industry with headquarters in the Silicon Valley. The Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies is a $5B state corporation that co-invests in nanotechnology industry projects that have high commercial potential or social benefit.

In a related matter, Philip Verveer, U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, recently led a delegation to Russia and had bilateral talks with the Russian Ministry of Communications. Topics included: broadband, Internet governance, cyber security, spectrum management, the analog to digital TV transition and coordination of positions for upcoming meetings at the International Telecommunication Union.


Ed Silverstein is a contributing editor for TMCnet's InfoTech Spotlight. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Alice Straight
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