What Mattered in 2010: Jim Armstrong, Clearstone Ventures

We've been sharing the opinions of some of the top influencers in Southern California's high tech community all week, and will also do so next week. We asked the same five questions of a variety of top technology entrepreneurs, investors, and others, to hear what they're thinking about, and are sharing it here over the next two weeks.

Yesterday, we spoke with Mark Suster of GRP Partners. For today's contribution, we spoke with Jim Armstrong, a venture capitalist at Clearstone Venture Partners.

1. What was the biggest news for you/your firm this year?

It has to be the momentum of many of our companies including a bunch of exits. Because we are early stage we really feel the years it takes to get these companies into momentum, but we had quite a few large M&A and an IPO.

2. In your opinion, what events, companies, or people made the biggest impact on the technology world in 2010?

Apple and the IPAD because it showed that the power of a mobile OS applied to the essentials of computing is good enough.

3. What was the biggest lesson you learned over the past year (good or bad)?

M&A exits don't make the venture engine run and you need to plan for this well in advance. Everybody involved with the ongoing success of the Company needs to have incentives (and reality) aligned if you want to have a Company become a stand alone, highly valued, behemoth.

4. Who are the people here you think will most influence the technology world in the coming year?

The growing and impressive class of serial entrepreneurs -- they are getting really experienced and really strong and that system begins to feed on itself as it reaches a tipping point. I think we are there.

5. What are the technologies, companies, or things you think the community ought to pay the most attention to in 2011?

I am focused on two. First is B2B commerce, which is monstrous, but business buying decisions need a real support system of information in context before the purchase is made. That is a data/IT problem, and we are close to see some new B2B companies get big fast. Second is gaming meets life -- where gaming isn't just for entertainment anymore, but rather you interact with other behaviors through games.

See more insights from the Southern California high tech community in our continued series tomorrow!


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