Monday, March 30


I spend the day in Amsterdam and even take my camera - but only have time for this lame-ass picture at the departing airport. Oh well. Did you know that KLM is the oldest airline in the world still operating under its original name and has 30,118 employees? Wikipedia told me that. I do have time to visit the Rijksmuseum and revisit Rembrandt's "The Night Watch" and Vermeers' "The Milkmaid" which is so beautiful I well up for a moment. Somehow he captures his figure inhaling as she pours milk - simple, totally, and yet a perfect moment captured at day-break with light beaming into a shabby room which he imprints perfectly. Bravo. I also enjoy Frans Hals and Jan Steen; van Gogh has his own nearby museum but sadly I miss this time. So anyway, I arrive yesterday sacrificing a cherished Sunday afternoon to make The Hague (though Eitan, standing by me right now burping, farting and laughing his head off makes me wonder .. ) I have a meeting this morning with Jos, the head of one of the world's largest pension schemes by asset-size and we go head-to-head. Jos always contrarian, loud and loves an arguement. So this morning we talk about the state of venture capital, and whether it remains an asset class. The problem, you see, the last eight years when nobody has made a return, though if we go back twenty years from 1987 to 2007 (admittedly missing the last critical twelve-months but data not ready) we see that venture's median gross performance 16% and top quartile around 35%. This beats everything including buy-out, hedge fund and long only strategies and so forth. It also tells me that when a fellow like Jos this negative it is exactly the right time to invest in venture capital. Despite this little chestnut, I am otherwise unable to convince Jos of anything but this does not mean I don't enjoy our conversation - in fact, the opposite. It is the rare occassion I learn something private equity related that is not industry gossip. Jos may be difficult but he has been investing capital in Europe and North America in all strategies for >20 years and has lived several recessions and at least one bubble, so his opinion counts. Our two+ hours together I hope as useful for him as me.

Madeleine returns from Pizza Express.
Eitan: "What did you have?"
Madeleine: "Pizza."
Eitan: "What else?"
Madeleine: "Pizza."

Sonnet to me: "Hello, luv. I've missed you."

Me to Eitan: "What do you think people do at work?"
Eitan: "send texts and write emails?"