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Wiretap: Stanford Shindig Aims To Help Startups, Board Members

Publication Date: 
May 04, 2011
San Jose Mercury News
Paul Delevett

Professor Joseph Grundfest spoke with Paul Delevett of the San Jose Mercury News about the upcoming Directors' College and the challenges it hopes to help entrepreneurs and corporate types overcome.

With startups popping up all over the valley, there's more focus than ever on the recruitment, care and feeding of board members, who can make the difference between a young company's life or death.

But while veteran entrepreneurs and corporate types find themselves being wooed to sit on boards, ever-changing regulations and new issues like the secondary stock markets are leaving some would-be directors wary. Enter Stanford law professor Joe Grundfest, who's busily making plans for next month's annual "Directors' College" -- a sort-of boot camp for board members and entrepreneurs.

"One of the big challenges startups have is, how do you build a board?" notes Grundfest, a former SEC commissioner. "The ideal candidate typically has C-level experience, but currently, CEOs and CFOs are being told by the people at their day jobs that they can't serve on too many outside boards."


Sonsini calls the Stanford program -- which touches on topics such as strategic planning, executive oversight and business ethics -- "a model for directors' education."

Added Davidson, chairman of Fenwick & West: "Directors' College is particularly important for Silicon Valley, because our companies face rapid change but are removed from the financial markets and regulatory agencies on the East Coast." For a cool seven grand, the conference gives new and veteran board members a chance to learn from regulators and big institutional shareholders.