More From Hugh Panero
Here's a fuller interview with Hugh Panero, who guided Washington's XM Satellite Radio from its infancy in 1998. Panero has joined Chevy Chase venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates.
Panero, 52, who also has a background in cable television, will work with NEA's consumer technology group, identifying promising young companies worthy of getting some of NEA's $8 billion fund. Panero found himself the odd man out as XM's merger with rival Sirius Satellite Radio heated up in 2007, leading him to leave the company he co-founded in August of that year.
We chatted with Panero about his new, Earth-based job on Friday, and ran some of his answers in today's newspaper. Here's some more of the interview, edited and condensed.
Why did you pick NEA?
They're one of the premier venture capital companies in the country with a long history of helping entrepreneurs build successful companies. It's a quality group of people and I think it's a great opportunity for me. I think I bring some specific skills in the new media area and I'm going to work closely with their consumer tech group. When you're in a firm like this, you're surrounded by extremely smart, committed people. Not only can you contribute to the efforts of helping the company, you get to learn about a lot of other areas (NEA invests in), such as the medical field and energy.
Are there any specific areas or technologies you're targeting for investment?
Clearly, the Web space, social networking, various computing technologies and ad-supported businesses that I have some experience in.
Any technologies like satellite radio?
The Web has a lot of opportunities, but some of the business models are challenged in different regards. We have a whole wireless world about to be introduced and there are various intriguing opportunities there for content. The other thing about (NEA) is they have international offices as well in India and China. It's pretty exciting, as those markets evolve. There are new consumer media opportunities there I'll have a chance to look at.
For someone who doesn't understand what a venture capital firm does, tell us what your job will be.
To find really terrific young companies that have the capability to use their businesses and technology to change the way people function in our society and create valuable business assets. And so what you do is you find your companies, you then invest in these companies and then, based on your experiences, you help them grow and make them very successful large enterprises.
Private-equity firms invest in companies. What's the difference between what they do and what you'll do?
VCs usually come in at a much earlier stage in the company's development and are willing to take a lot of time with the companies at that early stage to make them successful.
How did you and NEA find each other?
Washington has a small circle of people in the technology business area, which includes the venture capital area. (NEA managing general partner) Peter Barris has been a friend of mine in the Washington community for some time, and over time you build relationships and they see what you do.
What have you been doing since you left XM?
I've been on a commission sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (of the Johnson & Johnson family) to create a healthy America. Plus, I've been doing some consulting and obviously probably been annoying my wife considerably.
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