What's killing American competitiveness? Too much money, says VC

We're all aware by now that the American educational system is in a state of serious decline, but we face another problem too: Wall Street pays people too much.

Too many U.S. college students are being pulled away into management, hedge funds and other similar jobs where the main function is servicing someone else's legacy, according to David Strohm, general partner at Greylock, at the Venture Capital Investing Conference taking place in San Francisco.

Engineering and science students still seem to have start-up fever. But outside of those departments, which are seeing declining enrollments, most students seem content to work for the man rather than kick off a new venture.

"In the vast majority of companies I look at today, the leaders are Israelis, Indians, Chinese, Finns, Danes. They aren't coming out of the American culture," he said. "Liquidity is a major problem."

An excess of money can kill start-ups too, he added. "When you put $7 million into a company that could have been started with $2 million, you've got problems. The first step they do is hire three to four headhunting firms who hire too many overpriced executives."

Granted, one could say that's a great opinion for David to have. He's likely made quite a bit of money as a venture capitalist for more than two decades.

But think of it this way. When was the last time you met a Wall Street analyst, or a VP of marketing and thought, "You can just tell from his sparkling intelligence that he's worth every penny of that high six figure salary."

Tech Culture
About the author

    Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.


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