Archive - HBR

Feb
11
2013

Impact: The Next Venture Capital?

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review has the impact investing airwaves humming. In it, the author presents his case for the notion that impact investing will be for the early 21st century what venture capital was for the later 20th century. Interestingly, much of the commentary has been negative, with pointed remarks about the difference between investing for maximum financial return (venture) and investing with the intention of generating returns other than, and in addition to, financial. Most of these comments seem focused on the notion that venture capital is soulless, whereas impact is by definition "soulful". Although my friends in venture capital would go to great lengths to disagree, I find myself sympathetic to this stance. There IS something essentially soulless in viewing the process of seeding, nurturing and harvesting a company exclusively through the very narrow - if very powerful - microscope of financial return. But despite this, I disagree with the conclusion: the analog has nothing to do with soul. Instead, it has everyting to do with history. To wit, a Brief History Of Venture Capital:...



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