Rob Katz

Social Capital Markets: Three Key Takeaways

All good things must come to an end, including’s coverage of last week’s Social Capital Markets conference.? SoCap was a 72-hour firestorm of ideas, conversations, impromptu meetings and a lot of blog posts–22, to be precise.? But at the end of the day, what does it all mean?? I’ve been thinking hard on this, and have boiled it down to three key takeaways:

1. The tent is big, and growing
2. Measurement matters
3. Show me the moneyAllow me to explore each of these in a bit more detail.

The tent is big, and growing

Social entrepreneurship continues to be a broadly-defined term–sometimes to its detriment.? There were more than a few conversations at SoCap that left me wondering, “how is this project different than traditional social activism or charity?”? Anyone interested in social entrepreneurship really must read Sally Osberg and Roger Martin’s 2007 article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, in which they make a case for definition. ?

Despite this, most of they people at SoCap were true social innovators or entrepreneurs.? And unlike many other conferences, the panel sessions and plenary sessions went beyond anecdotes and one-offs to discuss real trends and results.? It was refreshing.

Measurement matters

SoCap’s plenary speakers, panelists and hallway conversationalists could not stop talking about metrics and social impact.? Everyone seemed to agree that social investors and entrepreneurs were combining forces to drive real change, but no one was sure how best to measure that change.? How many lives impacted?? How many customers served?? How much is all this social change worth–ideally, in dollar terms?? We don?t know this, but it’s encouraging that the social investment field is moving away from anecdotal reporting in earnest.? It was good to have Jed Emerson, essentially the granddaddy of social metrics, speaking at SoCap.? I’ll keep an eye on this space and post about it from time to time here on NextBillion.

Show me the money

Apologies to Jerry Maguire, but I did have a lingering feeling after SoCap that there weren?t enough investors in the room during the conference.? Maybe that’s because there were just so many people there in general, but I kept running into entrepreneurs and thought leaders and peers–not so much with investors.? Yes, there were certainly some good ones at SoCap, but I know that for the social investment space to really mature, there will have to be a lot more money at the table.? Is a big conference the right place for that big money?? Maybe not; regardless, I couldn?t shake the feeling that there ought to have been more investors there.

To close, here’s a run-down of the blog posts we did during SoCap, and a few photos I snapped at the reception on night one.

And the photos:

(L-R: David Auerbach,Graham Macmillan,Susie Lee,Ben Powell

(L-R: David Lehr,Tiffany Card,Jocelyn Wyatt)

(L-R: Kevin Jones,Rob Katz)

(L-R: Rob Katz,Meredith Lobel,Ben Powell)

Finally, special thanks to all who contributed to NextBillion during SoCap08:

  • David Auerbach, Endeavor
  • Mark Beckford, Disruptive Leadership (and NextBillion Staff Writer)
  • Charlene Chen, Haas School of Business
  • Cindy Chen, Haas School of Business
  • Jill Finlayson, Social Edge
  • Champa Gujjanudu, Haas School of Business
  • Mike Lee, Haas School of Business
  • David Lehr, Mercy Corps (and NextBillion Staff Writer)
  • Graham Macmillan, VisionSpring
  • Roxanne Miller, Haas School of Business
  • Aden Van Noppen, Brown University
  • Jocelyn Wyatt, IDEO