Startups 1996 vs 2006:
Panel Discussion Hosted by OPEN-SV in San Francisco
By Abdulrahman Rafiq
Thursday March 16, 2006 over a hundred Pakistani-American
professionals and entrepreneurs gathered at the World Trade
Club in the heart of San Francisco’s financial district.
They came from all corners of the San Francisco Bay Area
to attend the first-ever networking event in the city hosted
by the Organization of Pakistan Professionals and Entrepreneurs
(OPEN Silcon Valley, www.opensiliconvalley.com).
The theme, though fairly open-ended, centered around comparing
and contrasting the entrepreneurial environment in IT today
vs. ten years ago.
It was ten years ago that Netscape first went public, the
Telecom Act of 1996 was being formulated and Y2K was around
the corner. Today, Google is a dominant force, a billion
people are on the Internet, and IT is a global phenomenon.
What are some of the similarities and parallels between
the two eras? How are they different? Corporate executives
who were there then and are here now, discussed these and
The panel of four was moderated by OPENs current executive
committee vice president Ammar Hanafi, who is a General
Partner at Alloy Ventures, based in Palo Alto.
A section of the audience
the panel there was Jonathan Stern Manager at Bain &
Company. He has over 15 years of strategy consulting experience.
Then there was Ian MacLeod, who is the Managing Director
at Goldman Sachs, where he leads the firm's software investment
banking practice in the Technology, Media and Telecom Group
(TMT), and Matt Holleran who is the Vice President of AppExchange
ISV Alliances at Salesforce.com, and last but not least
Ahmed Khaishgi, Chief Operating Officer and a co-founder
The first speaker, Jonathan Stern discussed how in 1996
the Internet was misperceived, and the evolution that occurred
since then. Infoworld in December 1995 predicted that 1996
will witness the collapse of the Internet revolution which
barely had begun.
The second speaker, Ian MacLeod, discussed the M&A activities
in 1996 vs 2006. He went into greater details about the
specific areas of the M&A activity and the sectors where
the growth had been the largest. His gist was that IPO activity
has significantly declined; however, the M&A activity
is on the rise, and seems to be the trend nowadays.
Other than the panel discussions, there was plenty of opportunity
for attendees and panelists to networking amongst each other,
thus contributing to their ever-expanding business and professional
The author is a Signal Integrity Engineer working in the
Silicon Valley. He is an OPEN fellow (www.opensiliconvalley.com),
and the founder/President of PakSEF Foundation (www.paksef.org.
He can be reached at arafiq@paksef