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Venture Capital Regulatory Hot Buttons: Innovation or Guild Agenda?

I was asked last week at a seminar what the “regulatory hot buttons” were for venture capital firms.

My response was to tick off at least these:

1)      End or reduce the impact of Sarbanes-Oxley.  This legislation is a tax on public companies without significant protection for the public, and is widely blamed by VCs for the wretched IPO environment of the past almost-decade.

2)      Don’t mess with capital-gains tax treatment for carried interest.  Carried interest is the way that profits from successful startup investments convey to venture capitalists and our backers.  Treating these as ordinary income would be another tax on innovation.

3)      Visa reform.  By restricting talented scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs from study, work, and citizenship opportunities in the U.S. we cut ourselves off from the historic stream of human capital that immigrants have furnished to the U.S.

I found myself thinking after the class, “Is this a true innovation agenda, or is it just a set of guild protections for what we do”?

What do you think?  I came to the conclusion that these are actually in the interests of the innovation agenda as a whole.

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  • DavidBBlack

    Whatever you tax, you get less of it; whatever you reduce taxes on, you get more of it. Similarly, by increasing the regulatory burden on public companies, you get fewer companies wanting to IPO. Each of the 3 items reduces taxes or reduces regulatory burden on VC-based innovation. If we want more innovation, we should want these things. If at the same time they benefit the VC guild, that’s life.