Thursday, January 29, 2004

Keiretsu Forum...

So if you were an ex-CEO of Levi's... or an heir to the Schwab fortune... or have found your way into a few million dollars in the dot com boom... where would you go to find some interesting private investments? Today I spent my morning at the Keiretsu Forum -- self described as being about Great Association with Quality Deal Flow and watched the moneyed of Silicon Valley give the thumbs up or thumbs down on 5 early stage companies.

By their own admission, the section most members visit on their website is the "event calendar" -- including ski trips, golf outings, and trips to Hawaii... but the presentations today were all business with both self-made millionares and inheritors weighing in on the pros and cons of businesses that ran the gamut -- life sciences, software, financial services, even a new packaging concept.

It was a refreshing reminder of the dynamic form of capitalism alive in our country. A "swarm" of investors that self-organize and fund companies. The "K-Forum," as everyone calls it there, just creates a venue for the investors to see qualified deals. Investors make their own individual decisions to jump in.

Joining is easy -- have $1 million in liquid assets (that makes you an accredited investor) and give Randy Williams, K-Forum Founder, $1,000 a year. Oh, and there is a 2-3 month waiting list...

Lest you think that the $1 million rule is a way of keeping the club exclusive -- this is actually an SEC rule intended to protect less sophisticated investors from bad investments.

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