SB80 A Better Value For Business Than Boondoggles To China

Today or tomorrow, the Georgia House Rules Committee will decide the fate of  SB80, a bill that will open-up state pension funds to more investment opportunities. Passing this bill would help fund technology start-ups in Georgia. Lemme tell you, there’s nothing sadder than the CEO of a technology start-up in Georgia. From the Academic VC:

Georgia is a fabulous place to call home, but trying to grow high-tech businesses in the Deep South has a few challenges that you just don’t encounter elsewhere in the country. One is the lack of local venture capital, which has been discussed ad nauseum elsewhere on the Web.

What did Deep Throat say? “Follow the money.” Why don’t we have a lot of venture investors locally? Several reasons, but one is that we don’t have a lot of institutions locally who invest in venture funds.

Why don’t local institutions invest in venture capital funds? Well, for some of the very biggest, it’s illegal. Not “against their policy.” Not “doesn’t meet their current investment objectives.” Not “something they’ve tried and didn’t like.” Illegal. Requiring a change to state law.

Full blog post here. Not only is it illegal to fund technology, it’s virtually impossible to get media attention on anything related to technology in Georgia. I’ve heard the lament time and time again, from CEOs to VCs to developers.

Heck, the Atlanta Business Chronicle doesn’t even bother to fund a Technology reporter! Scott Burkett, serial entrepreneur and CEO of PlayMotion has a few choice words on that matter:

Atlanta is the most “wired” city in the world, according to Forbes Magazine (for the second year in a row). Money Magazine was quoted as saying that Atlanta has “a bustling community of Internet-related start-ups.” So why then does the Atlanta Business Chronicle forego technology coverage in order to continue to fill my driveway with piles of dead trees containing in-depth coverage of the real estate market (which we all know is tanking)?

Come on guys … this is embarrassing. There is a whole new wave of technology players in Atlanta, and you are missing the boat. Then again, since most of us get our news online these days, maybe it doesn’t even really matter.

Burkett’s full blog post is here. I suppose if we just ignore technology and the future it will just, like, go away. Since we can barely graduate our students in this state anyway, technological innovation would just be way too much for our pea-brains to handle.

We can start to turn things around and encourage greater technological entrepreneurship in Georgia by urging members of the Rules Committee to pass SB80 today.

BONUS FEATURE: the teachers’ union opposes it!

35 comments

  1. StevePerkins says:

    Seeing as how this bill caps the amount of investment in venture capital at 5%, it seems pretty reasonable to me. That being said, I can’t help but believe that if this sort of thing were being proposed by a Republican or Libertarian, Spacey would be the first one out of the gate to scream about it.

    Let’s see… we’ll be taking public pension plan money and investing it in non-profitable dot-com start-ups. The idea is to pray that these start-ups will be acquired by a larger company before they burn up their VC cash and fold. The companies acquiring our companies in turn hope to be acquired by still-larger companies, before they burn through THEIR cash. In other words, we’re investing pension funds into a pyramid scheme. (anybody still wonder why I decided to leave I.T. and head to law school?)

    I’m not sure if this somehow different because it involves “sexy” nonsense buzzwords like “Web 2.0”, etc. However, setting aside for a moment the neat-o thought that some blogger might get an Apple product… this is an idea that would be lambasted if promoted by a conservative. It IS a economically conservative idea!

    Oh, and not to nitpick… but teachers aren’t unionized in Georgia. It’s funny enough to hear ignorant Republicans on PP babble about how the non-existent controls the state Democratic Party. It’s even more funny to hear ignorant Dems talk about it.

  2. SpaceyG says:

    Let me clarify before you get carried away on wings of your idiotic lipflap, Steve… Georgia teachers are mostly certainly unionized and/or affiliates of large national teacher union(s). Although the largest teacher groups in Georgia are considered “advocacy” organizations, supposedly not affiliatd with the national union, but I wonder where they really get their main cues from. See: http://www.gae.org/ Teachers also make-up a strong portion of the powerful GA State Retirees Assoc., which is very opposed to SB80. That’s here: http://www.mygsra.com/mc/page.do?sitePageId=65711

    Looks like a union, acts like a union, call it what you will. Apparenly, most of the lobbying efforts AGAINST SB80 are coming from OUTSIDE the state, from teacher unions with the means to do so.

    There are plenty of Repugs supporting SB80. Five of the six who are presenting SB80 are Republicans! Why do you want to raise partisan issues on the one bill that is not of a partisan nature?

    The classic behavior of a typical, run-of-the-mill jerk.

  3. LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

    “BONUS FEATURE: the state teachers’ union opposes it!”

    I will blindly support anything the teachers’ unions (aka, PAGE and GAE) oppose. And yes, technically speaking, they’re not unions, but they perform the same function….misinformation, scare tactics, infuencing, and intimidation. why does a profession whose workers put in 180-200 working days need a union anyway?

  4. LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

    There are plenty of Repugs supporting SB80. Why do you want to raise partisan issues on the one bill that is not of a partisan nature?

    The classic behavior of a typical, run-of-the-mill, jerk.

    Boy you said it Spacey! 🙂

  5. Chris says:

    Steve: two nits to pick.

    1) Technology != dot-coms. There is plenty of other tech stuff happening in Atlanta involving bio-tech, medical-tech, and the crazy s–t dreamed up by the geeks at GTRI.

    2) I too looked at the IT to law school switch and decided it wasn’t worth losing 3-5 years of my life to jump from a job making $75-$90 to a job making $150-$200k but putting in 2 or 3 times the hours. The real money in law is when you make partner (or in Erick’s case blogger) but you need to kiss a lot of ass to get there. Judging from your posts, I don’t see you being a sucessful ass-kisser.

    That said, you’re right, IT isn’t a good investment right now. Bio-Tech and Materials-Tech is a lot better.

  6. Doug Deal says:

    Chris,

    2) I too looked at the IT to law school switch and decided it wasn’t worth losing 3-5 years of my life to jump from a job making $75-$90 to a job making $150-$200k but putting in 2 or 3 times the hours.

    Also, don’t forget about the 50K + in law school tuition. With three years off at 80K a year, that’s almost 300K down, and it’s three years out. Add to that 5 years working as an associate, where you won’t be making more, just working harder, you can’t even break even until at least year 11.

    It would make more financial sense to live a more frugal life, save the extra money and invest it. By the end of 11 years, you could be making more in investments and salary combined in IT than you could as a J.D. with a lot less work.

  7. Chris says:

    Doug – that doesn’t count industry trends.

    There will always be need for more lawyers, because the slimeball politicans keep growing government. IT jobs will begin to trend downward as the industry discovers better methods of efficiency. The admin-to-server ratio has been going down for quite awhile, and virtualization will only perpetuate that.

  8. This is an April Fool’s joke, right?

    Merger & Acquisition Attorney and part time legislator Judson Hill and other legislators vaguely defined as “Businessmen” are at it again.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dot-com_bubble

    SB80
    A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Article 7 of Chapter 20 of Title 47 of the O.C.G.A., the “Public Retirement Systems Investment Authority Law,” so as to define certain terms; to provide that certain public retirement systems may invest retirement system assets in certain types of alternative investments, private placements, and other private investments; to provide that such investments may be made up to a certain amount; to shield information related to such investment from public scrutiny; to provide for a code of ethics; to amend Code Section 50-18-72 of the O.C.G.A., relating to when public disclosure of records is not required and disclosure exempting legal authority, SO AS TO EXEMPT CERTAIN PUBLIC RECORDS FROM PUBLIC INSPECTION; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes

  9. Tea Party says:

    Atlanta is and shall continue to be a developers town, represented by some of the finest brokers in the Nation.

    Fact is, commercial deals in Atlanta are going to continue to be stronger and larger as our weak dollar, and Atlanta’s underlying value, make this town a great deal. So, no, the market is not tanked, though this downturn is looking more ominous than the last two or three.

    Our great tech, telecom, biomed businesses all add fuel to the fire of commercial developement. Atlanta is its’ own market.

    The disconnect between rural legislators and those from the Metro is bad for Georgia, a strong Atlanta is a strong Georgia.

  10. The disconnect between Metro ATL Legislators and Rural Legislators is bad for Georgia, a strong Rural Georgia is a Strong Georgia.

    Do you guys read the National Financial News or is ATL an entity unto itself?

    If Bear Sterns’ accounting can’t be trusted, what makes you guys think that Venture Capital Firms whose books are shielded from Public View, by act of the Georgia Legislature, are a safe investment?

    http://www.timesunion.com
    State pension funds hit
    By ERIC ANDERSON, Deputy business editor
    Click byline for more stories by writer.
    First published: Tuesday, March 18, 2008

    ALBANY — Two of New York’s largest public employee pension funds saw hefty paper losses as shares of The Bear Stearns Cos. Inc. tumbled recently.

  11. Rogue109 says:

    Let me clarify before you get carried away on wings of your idiotic lipflap, Steve…

    The classic behavior of a typical, run-of-the-mill jerk.

    Boy, SpaceyG, you really do have an interesting and highly topical post here for a change, but why are you so darn bitter and childish when responding to critics?

  12. LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

    Rogue, apparantly you haven’t crossed paths with Mr. Steve Perkins on PP. Beware.

  13. StevePerkins says:

    This debate over whether or not we have a “teachers union” seems to pop up every couple of weeks. Look… Georgia teachers cannot practice collective bargaining. Georgia teachers cannot strike. Ergo, Georgia teachers are not unionized. I realize that most Southerners know nothing about organized labor beyond what they might have read in a history book once, but try to understand that collective bargaining and strikes are what makes a union a “union”. Going by the logic that some of you are applying… that the GAE is a union because it practices political lobbying… then I’m in a gun-owner’s “union” because of my NRA membership. Utter ignorance.

    Also, just a quick tangent… there isn’t a law school in Georgia (or the entire southeast, for that matter) that costs “50K per year”. Georgia State’s law school costs slightly more than being an UNDERGRAD at Georgia Tech or UGA… the reason I go in the evenings while keeping my day job is so I can pay-as-I-go and graduate with zero debt. On the downside, you guys who assume I’m going to make $200K starting out (or ever at all) are smoking crack… unfortunately.

  14. SpaceyG says:

    Well Gee Wally/Rogue… now why would I rush to “respond” to jerks who act out badly, mostly to me, on PP? Because very few others take a moment to do so on my behalf. And I’m sure not going to wait around for such unexpected, yet always welcomed, chivalry to just kinda maybe sorta happen organically. I’d be DOA if I did that.

    Besides, I enjoy a good fight club myself. Fight early, fight often; you get in more punches that way.

  15. John Konop says:

    SpaceyG,

    Have you always had this issue with thinking you are a victim? If anyone dares calls you out on facts or lack of logic you go personal every time and avoid the question or debate.

    I have debated Rogue109 and Steve many times on issues and we may disagree at times put it is never personal. And I am sure no one has ever claimed to be a victim when one side had better facts or logic.

  16. rugby fan says:

    Spacey:

    I think the reason for the hostility some may display towards you is because routinely your posts have only loose connections to Georgia politics, and it always seems as if they are filled with invectives when you try to make your point. It is mainly the latter which shuts off critical debate over the issues and generates ill will to what you.

    The fact you almost always target southerners in your statements, even if they are sarcastic, really doesn’t help either.

  17. LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

    Hey Perkins, how long have you been a know-it-all? PAGE, GAE, and NAE are nothing more than unions. Save me the definition of what a Union really is.

    I’m with Spacey on this one…did you guys not read Perkins’ last post…the guy is a prick:

    “I realize that most Southerners know nothing about organized labor beyond what they might have read in a history book once, but try to understand that collective bargaining and strikes are what makes a union a “union”. …Utter ignorance.”

    Nice mug though:
    http://steveperkins.net/

  18. StevePerkins says:

    > PAGE, GAE, and NAE are nothing more than
    > unions. Save me the definition of what a Union
    > really is.

    Oh I don’t know it ALL… I just happen to know the term “union”. An “advocacy organization” does political lobbying. A “union” does collective bargaining, and has the power to shut down operations altogether as a tool for leverage in bargaining. I suppose that if you consider the word “union” to be an umbrella term describing all organizations you do not like, then you could refer to an advocacy organization as a union. However, yeah… that would be sparing you the definition.

    > Nice mug though:
    > http://steveperkins.net/

    Thanks! I moisturize.

  19. LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

    “Thanks! I moisturize.”

    LOL..see it doesn’t hurt to have a sense of humor around here?

    But I’m afraid to ask what is it you moisurize..so I won’t 😉

  20. Old Vet says:

    Read the bill. It provides for gambling with pension fund money in “leveraged buyout funds, mezzanine funds, workout funds, debt funds, venture capital funds, merchang bank funds, and funds of funds and secondary funds.” Somehow those have morphed for publicity into “technology”. Would you turn your retirement over to a broker you had no control over who promised to invest in such things? Don’t blame folks for being edgy.

  21. AubieTurtle says:

    Georgia should lure David Bronner away from the state of Alabama and give him free reign to do what he wants with the money (other than buying local tv stations).

  22. Doug Deal says:

    Steve,

    Also, just a quick tangent… there isn’t a law school in Georgia (or the entire southeast, for that matter) that costs “50K per year”.

    You realize that 50 k was for the three years of
    law school, not one. 80k x 3 = 240 k + 50 k = 290 k which is close to 300 k.

    My wife gradulate from Georgia Law, and her student loan debt is slightly more than 50k.

  23. bowersville says:

    The term Union is a name for that county around Blairsville. Union county was a strong supporter of the Union in the late war of northern aggression. So other than history books, how are we supposed to know about Unions. (Walden, before you jump, I know Union County was named for the Union Party around 1828.)

    Victor & Old Vet have valid points. Thus far, including the author, I haven’t read a valid argument why this bill should pass.

    One would have to wonder why the state’s pension fund would be used to finance something private investors are unwilling to do.

    The teachers, of which I am not, need to have the jitters.

  24. Doug Deal says:

    Steve,

    Oh I don’t know it ALL… I just happen to know the term “union”. An “advocacy organization” does political lobbying.

    Except the world disagrees with you. As a lawyer, you will need to do research, so maybe start with something like wikipedia, then try the dictionary. Stiking and collective bargaining are possible functions of unions, not definitive ones.

  25. bowersville says:

    “The Deep South has a few challenges that you just don’t encounter elsewhere in the country. One is a lack of local venture capital…Why don’t we have a lot of venture investors locally? Several reasons, but one of them…” then you go on to explain that it is illegal for the state to invest pension funds.

    Spacey, I’m calling you out. Explain why pensioners should risk their means to eat on this venture? Why is there no local venture capital? Don’t blame it on real property, because there is always money to made there.

  26. bowersville says:

    Spacey, let me go ahead and give you my comeback so you can have a clue, if you give a rip, which I don’t think you do. You are for the people when it doesn’t cost you, and for the people when it benefits you.

    The bill (SB 80) plainly states it’s intent “to shield information from public scrutiny”

    Dam*, Spacey is a closet capitalist Republican. Who would have known?

  27. marbledclay says:

    Hopefully anyone considering a business venture seeks professional advice early on; I gather that’s usually the case. It’s not easy now for everyone with an Internet connection to determine what is and is not legal in Georgia.

    Imagine having located a statute through an official state web site, having bookmarked its page, and at some point later encountering a LexisNexis log-in form upon attempting to return to the bookmarked page. That happened to me. The log-in page does not tell the visitor how to obtain an account. I’ve learned that it’s necessary to obtain a GALILEO password, a purported benefit of having some qualifying account (academic, library, or I don’t know what). I’m not sure exactly how the change came about.

    I’m doing a slow study to see which states allow unrestricted access to the particular state’s official code through a state web site, and which don’t.

  28. Romegaguy says:

    I only remember Deep Throat saying “Hmmmmmmmmm [gulp]” but then again it is hard to understand people who have their mouth full…

  29. Tea Party says:

    Hey Vic,

    Educators have the most powerful de facto union in the Country. My lawyerly fellow bloggers may argue of what the definition of ‘is’ is, but the teachers have a union.

    SpaceyG takes on a group that I find particularly careless with more than 70% of my property taxes. It is ABOUT TIME we all starting jumping up and down about this.

    The revolt in Dunwoody is centers around DeKalb ‘misuse’ of only 30% of my property taxes.

    Atlanta is not a law unto itself, but despite its’ shortcomings, this town is both a desirable place to live and work. Our ecomony is diverse, and the town supports local businesses.

    It may be hard to remain desirable, as 150,ooo new job seekers, per annum, arrive from around the country/World driving up social costs (traffic, air pollution, sprawl).

    Strong legislative mandates on transportation will help. Georgia benefits from this.

  30. Rogue109 says:

    Well Gee Wally/Rogue… now why would I rush to “respond” to jerks who act out badly, mostly to me, on PP? Because very few others take a moment to do so on my behalf.

    Good grief, SpaceyG. How about actually arguing your position without name-calling and bitter rhetoric?

  31. I can only randomly guess that Spacey is trying to say that someone hurt her feelings after she hurt everyone else’s feelings but nevertheless, you should all rush to her defense. It’s kinda like watching the movie Groundhog’s Day, over and over again but the entertainment value wore off about six months ago.

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