Unlike most former institutional investors, Adam spends quite a bit of time mentoring entrepreneurs, conferring with leading venture capital investors, and speaking about ways to optimize high growth companies. Moreover, as a former large firm attorney and entrepreneur with broad start-up experience, Adam draws insights from unique vantage points.
An overwhelming proportion of early stage companies fail, and both entrepreneurs and venture investors have learned to accept that. But does it really make sense to accept systemic failure? What if entrepreneurs and investors sought to better apply lessons learned in larger, publicly traded companies? If they did, maybe some of the repetitive failure vectors in the venture ecosystem would be less common?
Speaking Topics Include:
This session, first presented at the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, uses a case study approach to teach entrepreneurs and venture capital investors alike about how most high profile corporate failures aren’t management failures as much as they are boardroom failures. By marrying case studies with recent admonitions from institutional investors who manage trillions of dollars, the goal is to provide a practical, implementable framework for when early stage companies should have a board, who should be on those boards, and, perhaps more importantly, who shouldn’t be on them. This session also examines how various structural aspects of the venture capital ecosystem that haven’t changed meaningfully since the 1970s are probably ripe for some innovation to keep pace with dramatic changes in the U.S. capital markets.
In 2014, the entire board of directors of Olive Garden’s corporate parent, Darden Restaurants, were replaced after a proxy contest initiated by an activist investor. What happened next is something that every entrepreneur and venture capital investor should study. This session focuses on practical takeaways from the Darden proxy fight for founders and venture capital investors.
I met Adam in his capacity as a teacher/mentor at the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center in San Francisco, where my company, Public Recreation, was part of the Milestone Maker program. We immediately felt like Adam was a “secret weapon” as we sought to refine our capital raising presentation, because he’s a well-known, former institutional investor, who has literally heard 1000s of pitches. From a founder’s perspective, Adam is everything you want in an advisor: he’s a frank, personable, pragmatic expert, who is all about results. After only a few minutes with him, you’ll understand -- like we did – why Nasdaq sought out Adam to help advise paradigm-changing startups like Public Recreation.
Jennifer Pattee, CEO, Public Recreation
If you’re a CEO, your board should be a decisive competitive advantage, but many see them as ornaments. We wanted to make that point as emphatically as possible to the attendees of our recent “Startup Exit Masterclass,” so we reached out to Adam, since he’s a nationally recognized thought leader on this subject. Adam has a dynamic stage presence and made very clear with memorable examples what the upside of a real board could be. We all look forward to working with him again.
Benjamin Joffe, Partner, SOSV VC Fund & HAX Hardware Accelerator
As a teacher at the Center, Adam inspires founders to think differently about company oversight and gives them tools to support growth while creating long term, sustainable value to shareholders and stakeholders. Adam has a unique and passionate way of breaking down the principals of corporate governance through stories and experiences that highlight actionable steps any entrepreneur can take to make their business stronger and better able to overcome the big challenges that come their way.
Celena Aponte, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Nasdaq Entrepeneurial Center
Best Selling Author
Adam wrote The Perfect Corporate Board: A Handbook for Mastering the Unique Challenges of Small-Cap Companies (McGraw Hill); it was the #1 ranked corporate governance book on Amazon.com in June 2017. In its review of The Perfect Corporate Board, Bloomberg Businessweek said: “Attention, directors of small-cap companies. Help is on the way.”
Adam was a contributing author to The Handbook of Board Governance: A Comprehensive Guide for Public, Private and Not for Profit Board Members (Wiley), which was the #1 “New Release” in corporate governance on Amazon.com when it was published in 2016. His chapter is entitled, “Systemically Overlooked Anomalies of Governing Small-Cap Companies.”
Adam also writes the “Entrepeneurial Governance” column in industry-leading Directorship magazine.