Venture capitalists have launched a full-court press on campuses. With thousands of venture firms jockeying for the best ideas, it’s no surprise that venture capitalists are spending more and more time with young students at the best universities.
Mark Stevens (pictured here), a venture capitalist at valley firm Sequoia Capital, has given $22 million to USC to help that school make money from licensing promising technologies developed on campus. The program will provide grants to faculty and students with promising ideas, according to the WSJ.
This gives Stevens access to some of the ideas, as the story suggests (though the WSJ doesn’t mention the exact arrangement Stevens has with USC). It’s the latest sign that ideas are getting picked off earlier and earlier. We mentioned how eight Stanford MBA students formed around AGLOCO after a venture capitalist posted a note at Stanford looking for a student to help execute an idea. That’s an unprecedented number to join a company, especially at a time when AGLOCO competed with other start-ups to lure students. Already, five start-ups have been launched by this year’s crop of Stanford’s second-year MBAs. This year’s frenzy over Stanford’s MBA students exceeds even the bubble year of 1999, says AGLOCO’s Jim Jorgensen, who was hiring at the time. “That’s when it was nuts, but VCs weren’t all over these kids the way they are now,” he told VentureBeat. One Stanford student advertised on Craiglist to say she was looking for a CTO, and a VC who had no idea of who she was contacted her to inquire about her company, Jorgensen said.
You can’t blame them. Investor Ram Shriram bumped into a professor at Stanford while riding an elevator, and that led to an intro to the Google guys. A few years later, Shriram was a billionaire.