Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Big Fish, Small Pond Pittsburgh

The Post-Gazette is the bearer of good news. Venture capital from outside the region is seeking investment opportunities in Pittsburgh. While venture capital doesn't stray too far from home, that money must find new markets:

Tired of battling with other investors in the ultra-competitive hot tech arenas such as Boston, Silicon Valley and Austin, Texas, venture capitalists increasingly are looking to untapped places such as Pittsburgh to find the "next big thing," said Darren Wallis, a partner with the Philadelphia-area venture firm Osage Ventures. Since 2005, it has pumped more than $1 million into Robinson-based software firm, Landslide Technologies.

Pittsburgh has plenty of innovation capacity, but new ideas are underfunded. Fresh sources of local capital do not seem to be in the offing, providing fertile ground for the less risk averse to swoop in and reap the benefits. Venture capital can and does travel long distances, if the conditions are right.

Talent is a lot like venture capital, in that there is a proximity advantage. Someone tired of the "ultra-competitive" cool cities can make a big splash in "untapped places such as Pittsburgh." There is plenty of creative capacity that can't find expression in the usual urban hot spots. But Pittsburgh has done little to develop its frontier assets.

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