On January 28th, the NEVCA gathered members for its inaugural Policy Breakfast, featuring special guests from NEA, Battery Ventures, Cooley LLP, and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA).
NEVCA President, Jody Rose, began by revisiting the organization’s past legislative activity — the abolition of noncompete agreements, patent troll reform, high-skilled immigration, among many others — before dedicating the bulk of her remarks to the current state of sexual harassment and discrimination policy.
After presenting the NEVCA’s stance on the issues — that both sexual harassment and a funding gap are pressing problems in our industry — Rose was joined on stage by Lizette Perez-Deisboeck, General Counsel at Battery Ventures, and Bronwyn Roberts, Special Counsel at Cooley, for a more in-depth discussion on the complexities of recently proposed legislation.
Central to the legal concerns were the bill’s strategy of jointly addressing the issue of sexual harassment and the funding gap, as well as the tactic of amending existing employment law rather than creating new legislation. (The panel noted that California recently passed a dedicated bill that more narrowly addressed the issue of sexual harassment, and this bill has wide support form the venture community.)
Following the panel, focus shifted to Washington, D.C. with a the Federal policy landscape overview from NVCA President and CEO Bobby Franklin. Highlighting CIFIUS regulations as a key development affecting VCs, Franklin went on to underscore the need for “offense as well as defense”, pointing to issues like immigration and the need for an Entrepreneurial Visa(more than just the International Entrepreneur Rule). Another issue Franklin highlighted was necessary change to how the 2018 Tax Code overhaul treats Net Operating Loss (NOL) for startups (forcing devaluation). Finally, Franklin touched on tax policy, and the need to monitor some of the more extreme proposals around wealth tax and surplus tax due to the unusual support they seem to be garnering. A segue to a deeper dive on Drug Pricing and Transparency followed.
Sara Nayeem, M.D., a Partner at NEA and Board Director of the NEVCA, closed the breakfast with a presentation on the mechanics and economics of drug development, and how they must inform the conversation around Drug Pricing legislation on Capitol Hill. Chiefly, Nayeem pointed top the fact that more drugs are improved from venture-backed startups than from Big Pharma, and that proposed legislation seems to blur the lines between innovative startups and multi-billion dollar corporations.
All in all, it was an exciting morning. Partners from 46 NEVCA member firms were in attendance to contribute to and learn about the organization’s legislative agenda, and early responses indicate this will be the first of many NEVCA Policy Breakfasts.