Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Venture Capital: Fin

This week marks the end of Fall 1, our first quarter. I had five classes, four of which are a semester long. The one that was only a quarter long was Venture Capital, which met at 8:30 a.m. Monday and Wednesday. I just left our final lecture; next quarter, I'll have just four classes, and none of them start before 10 a.m. This is exciting.

VC -- as it's often abbreviated -- was a good class, taught by Olav Sorenson, who was new to Yale SOM last year. VC firms comprise individuals who raise money and look for high-potential start-ups to invest in. Because they are start-ups, they are risky investments, but that also means they can yield a high return. The class took us through the process, including identifying good investments, structuring agreements, adding value to the project, valuing the deal and exiting.

I doubt I will spent much (or any) time in this world in my career, but now I know more about it. And isn't that was school is all about? The class isn't 100% over yet; I'm in a group of five that is writing a paper on a start-up that's looking for funding. Half our energy has been spent trying to understand what the technology actually is and does. The other half is, I suppose, dedicated to what to say about it. We're also supposed to present our findings in a special three-hour class session this Friday, but I'll be in Los Angeles.

My other four classes are going well. I don't have any midterms (and, come to think of it, don't recall hearing of anyone having any). Then again, the distinctions in the labeling of assignments is sort of arbitrary. We had, for example, our first problem set due in Corporate Finance on Monday. She could have easily called that a "take-home midterm exam," which it basically was. Something about the word "exam," though, causes fear to grow in the hearts of MBA students.

In my only non-business class, Theory of Media (in the Film Studies department), there are both undergrads and grad students in the class. The undergrads are required to meet for regular sections with the TAs and do both a midterm paper and a final. The grad students meet with the professor regularly and only do a final paper, but it's supposed to be a more in-depth project than what's expected of the undergrads. That said, even the standard for "in-depth" is in the eyes of the professor, who is a pretty laid back guy and just wants us to bring our sensibilities to bear on some subject of the class that interests us. I think I'm going to investigate location technology and look at it both as a business and as a "prosthesis," a concept we discussed in class whereby types of media replace our senses (and supposedly weaken those senses the more they're used). I thought of this when I reflected on how much I rely on my Google Maps app to get around, as well as the GPS in my car. Who needs to memorize street names or understand cardinal directions when you can have a little machine tell you what to do?

The four classes I have that are a semester long are the first semester-long classes I've had at Yale SOM; all my classes last year were a quarter, or less. So Fall Break next week poses an unprecedented chance to catch up on some readings and theoretically get ahead in my classes. I've never had this kind of regrouping opportunity. I think that, relative to my classmates, I'm about average for keeping up with classes, but I do sometimes fall behind. But I forgive myself of this because I am pretty involved in extracurricular stuff. Anyway, I hope next week I do something nice for my future self and take some time to, say, go back over some Corporate Finance readings, for no reason other than to try to understand them. Imagine.

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