Here’s another Chicagoan to praise for his forward thinking and innovations. Check him out at Chicago Ideas Week.
In this profile: Peter Barris
Accolades: Peter joined New Enterprise Associates (NEA) in 1992 and was named Managing General Partner in 1999. His was the first venture stake in Groupon and under his leadership, NEA has invested in industry-transforming technology companies like CareerBuilder, Juniper Networks, Macromedia, Playdom, Salesforce.com, and TiVo, just to name a few. He's been named to the Forbes Midas List several times, and has led investments in over 25 information technology companies to initial public offerings or successful mergers.
Why you should care: Barris’ loyalty for his hometown of Chicago (he now lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland) has led to a growing portfolio of promising deals. He saw early promise in Groupon when it was in the beginning stages with two employees, and now stands to reap hundreds of times his investment. Whatever happens with Groupon, there’s no doubt that Barris knows how to pick them.
NEA is one of the oldest venture firms in the country, and has offices on both coasts. Barris said there are pros and cons to being on the opposite side of the country from Silicon Valley; of the disadvantages is the group-thinking mentality, he said. “Being based outside of Silicon Valley, you’re not as subject to it. That is how you find an Eric [Lefkofsky, Groupon's co-founder] in Chicago. In this world, you don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to start a great company anymore,” he told Forbes.
Barris doesn’t think we’re in a tech bubble, and his reasoning is sound and even. Publicity surrounding a handful of social networking companies has caused some skepticism, but across the board there isn’t a bubble in pricing, he said. Compared to the dot-com era, revenues are actually being considered, not imagined, and the companies are real. Spoken like a true, level-headed Chicagoan.