5 questions with Dixon Doll

Last week, Dixon R. Doll, co-founder and general partner of Menlo Park, Calif.-based DCM, stepped into a one-year term as chairman of the National Venture Capital Association. Doll will serve the role as the NVCA celebrates its 35th anniversary. Alastair Goldfisher, PE Week managing editor, chased down Doll last week at the group’s annual meeting in Santa Clara, Calif., to ask him about his agenda.

Q: So with this being an election year, can you tell me who you’re voting for president?


First off, I don’t know who the candidates are for president.

We’re a very non-partisan group. Our biggest supporters in the U.S. Congress come from both sides of the House. We’re not about supporting just Republicans or Democrats. We’re about educating our constituents, creating jobs, bringing capital resources to entrepreneurs. These are roles the NVCA serves nationwide and in each state, regardless of party affiliation.

Q: Last year, when Ted Schlein began his stint as chairman, one of the hot-button issues on top of the NVCA agenda was carry tax. Now that you’re chairman, what’s on your agenda?


Carry tax remains an important issue for us. In the next year we will continue to focus on high impact areas such as clean technology policy, patent reform, tax policy and regulations which support a healthy capital market system and overall U.S. competitiveness.

Also, there’s one issue, right up there with carry tax, that we’ll work long and hard on.

Q: What’s that?


Capital gains. We live in a global economy, and there are a lot of countries that are competitors, basically, because they have no capital gains tax.

I’m not saying we should have a zero gains tax in this country, but we need to learn more about its affects on entrepreneurs raising capital.

Q: How do you propose on doing that?


We’re going to start by commissioning an outside agency to do a quantitative study this year on the impact of the gains tax on capital raising, job creation and revenue generation. Many in the Congress believe that by raising the capital gains tax, our country can increase revenue. In reality, if you lower gains tax, revenue will go up because of its impact on luring entrepreneurs to raise capital.

The last time we did a tax survey was 20 years ago, so it’s time again that we develop a clear understanding of its trade offs and impacts. Our basic job at the NVCA is to educate, so we need to study the issues first.

Q: You mentioned cleantech, and that sector seems to have take on a larger presence at this NVCA event this year. Why is that?


Cleantech is not a fad. It’s an important, vital industry. We need solutions to combat pollution and treat water and develop alternative fuels. There are huge opportunities for our industry to go after cleantech investments.