Are Silicon Valley VCs really in decline?

The move away from traditional VCs to Angels features strongly in talk about startup investment. So this seemingly contrary view from the very heart of Silicon Valley is intriguing

If you’re like me, you probably watch way too many videos about startup investment from the (vibrant) angel investor side, where the VC scene usually gets ‘talked down’. That makes it all the more important to regularly check in on the other side of the tracks, and see just how different the picture looks from the VC perspective, menacing storm clouds notwithstanding.

Steve Bengston of PriceWaterHouseCoopers starts at 2:55

This isn’t just a “VC side thing” (Aydin Senkut, for instance, is seen as a “Super Angel”)

Here’s the intro to the session:

The beginning of 2011 saw very strong growth in the level and strength of early stage financings, a trend which has continued throughout the year.

2011 is being viewed by some as the year of the founder/entrepreneur and by others as the year of the “tech bubble” and excess valuations.

Against this backdrop, the VC industry is undergoing profound changes and seed/angel funds have become more active than ever before.

The panel of expert angel and venture capital investors took a look at early stage investing during the past year and what the future investment environment holds.

SPEAKERS:

Steve Bengston is a Managing Director of Emerging Company Services at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Before joining PwC, Bengston had 20 years of experience in a variety of marketing, business development, and general management roles at several high tech companies in the Bay Area.

Most recently, he was the President and Chief Executive Officer of ynot.com.

Previously, Bengston was a Vice President in Marketing and Business Development at Worldview Systems.

At Worldview, he helped launch and market Travelocity with Sabre Interactive.

Bengston is the Chairman of Membership Committee and Director of Life Science Angels, Inc.

He sits on the Advisory Board of SVASE, SDForum, and the Stanford/MIT Venture Lab.

He has taught classes on funding and running start ups at UC Berkeley, Santa Clara Law School, Hastings Law School, and Stanford.

Bengston is active in a variety of other organizations in the Bay Area targeting entrepreneurs and investors.

Aydin Senkut is the Founder and Managing Director of Felicis Ventures.

He has been named one of the top 25 tech angels by Businessweek recently and was featured as one of the top 8 up and coming VCs by Forbes’ Midas List.

Felicis Ventures portfolio encompasses over 50 companies including Bump, Brightroll, Disqus, DNANexus, Dropcam, Inkling, Justin.tv, Meraki, Room 77, Rovio, Shopify, Weebly and Yume.

In the last four years, 20 Felicis backed start-ups have been acquired by firms such as Google, Twitter, Groupon, Microsoft, AT&T, Disney, Ebay, Chegg and Intuit.

Prior to starting Felicis Ventures, he was a Senior Manager at Google, responsible for strategic partner development and account management in Asia Pacific (including Japan).

Aydin joined Google in 1999 as its first Product Manager to launch Google’s first 10 international sites, its first online search licensing products and its first Safe Search.

He then became the first International Sales Manager at Google, responsible for world-wide licensing deals.

Before joining Google, Aydin was the Product Manager for Data Visualization and Data Mining software MineSet, and led the business development efforts for the financial services industry at SGI.

Aydin and his wife are Associate Founders of Singularity University, have backed bio-tech research at UCSF and sponsored a scholarship at the University of Pennsylvania.

Aydin is on the boards of Clearslide, Massive Health, Imageshack and the Wharton Entrepreneurial Program.

Samuel B Angus of Fenwick West LLP is resident in the San Francisco office

His practice concentrates on advising start-up/venture-backed companies, venture capital and debt financings, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property licensing, joint ventures and general corporate matters.

He  represents a broad range of companies from privately held start-up companies to publicly traded corporations.

His practice also includes advising entrepreneurs and investors.

He  served as counsel for In-System Design, Inc. in connection with its acquisition by Cypress Semiconductor Corporation.

He also counseled Naxon Corporation (Wineshopper.com) on its acquisition of Wine.com, Inc., Ingenio, Inc. on its acquisition by AT&T Yellow Pages, Junglee Corp.

on its $300 million acquisition by Amazon.com, Inc., and Blue Lava Wireless on its $140 million acquisition by JAMDAT Mobile.

Howard Hartenbaum joined August Capital in 2008.

Prior to joining, he served as a General Partner at Draper Richards LP where he was the founding investor in Skype and a former member of the board of directors where his achievement resulted in his joining the Forbes Midas List of top venture capitalists.

Before entering the venture capital field, Howard was at Hughes Electronics, where he was responsible for supporting business development, marketing and sales of satellite, information security and automotive technologies developed by HRL Laboratories.

He also worked in engineering positions in ergonomics and user experience at Honda Motor Company and manufacturing at Teledyne Relays.

Joe Kraus has been with Google Ventures since 2009

His primary areas of focus are mobile, gaming, and local services.

Prior to Google Ventures, Joe was a two-time entrepreneur.

In 1993, he co-founded Excite.com, an early Internet search engine, holding multiple positions in the company, including leadership roles in product, business development, and marketing.

More recently, he co-founded JotSpot in 2004, a wiki company that was acquired by Google in 2006.

While at Google, Joe had multiple product management roles including Blogger, Picasa, Sites, Friend Connect, and OpenSocial.

In addition, Joe has been an active angel investor in multiple companies, including LinkedIn, Aardvark (sold to Google in 2010), Kongregate, and OpenCandy.