Santa Clara University

Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs Will Lead Economy Out of Downturn

Steve Foster

by Steve Foster
CIE Advisory Board Chairman
Managing Partner, Texas Pacific Group Ventures

As we traverse difficult economic times, it is important to remember that the majority of new job creation in our economy will most likely come from entrepreneurs.   An important part of the economic success of the USA has been the willingness of individuals to embrace the
uncertainty that comes with what Schumpeter called 'creative destruction'.  

This process of constant, disruptive innovation has defined Silicon Valley over the last forty years.  Angel investors, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs who 'boot strap' or self fund their businesses accept a high risk of failure.  Silicon Valley has had to constantly evolve. Disruptive technologies in computing, communications and biotech have given way to internet commerce and now to renewable energy.  

While most observers expect venture capital funding to decline in 2009, I hope that entrepreneurial activity does not.  There are still exciting problems to be solved and new business models to be defined. Alternative forms of energy generation, storage and efficiency should create opportunities for many years to come.  Significant breakthroughs in biotechnology are still ahead of us.  The world will increasingly struggle to meet its demand for fresh water.  Improvements in communication will continue to change the way we interact with each other and consume media.  New consumer products and services will be developed.

Over the last two years, through my involvement with the CIE Advisory Board and CIE eCouncil, serving as a judge for the MBA Business Plan and School of Engineering Innovation competitions, and as a guest lecturer in the School of Business, I have seen Santa Clara University undergraduate students, MBA students, and alumni embrace entrepreneurship and risk taking.  The Certificate in Technology Entrepreneurship program has brought students from other countries to take advantage of Santa Clara University's proximity and connection to the startup and venture capital community in Silicon Valley.

The CIE continues to expand its contribution to promoting innovation and entrepreneurship at Santa Clara and has sponsored and driven many activities including:

CIE Speakers Series
Certificate in Technology Entrepreneurship
Business Plan Competitions
Global Entrepreneurship Week

I am confident that new ideas will help lead our economy out of the current downturn.  CIE has an important role in helping originating, foster and develop new ideas into successful businesses.  We look forward to working with you.

About Steve Foster

Steve Foster is a Partner in TPG Growth, an affiliate of TPG.  Steve joined TPG in 2000 to help start TPG Ventures.  Since 2006, Steve has been actively investing in, and now leads, the Renewable Energy and Clean Technology practice for TPG Growth.

Steve has been investing in startups since 1996 and has been associated with a number of high profile successful investments including Juniper Networks (NASDAQ: JNPR), Extreme Networks (NASDAQ: EXTR), Avanex (NASDAQ: AVNX) and Chromatis (sold to Lucent for $4.5B).  Most recently, Steve was an investor in Sierra Logic (sold to Emulex) and Optium, which recently merged with Finisar (NASDAQ: FNSR).  

Prior to starting TPG Ventures in 2000, Steve was a partner at Crosspoint Venture Partners, a very successful early stage venture fund focused on communications and computing.  Previously, he led the Corporate Business Development effort at 3Com Corporation and spent several years at Hewlett Packard in a variety of sales, marketing, finance and business development roles.

Steve has a Master in Management from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management and graduated with honors from Santa Clara University.

He currently serves on the boards of CloudShield Technologies and Seven Seas Water.

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