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Up for Debate: Is Government Limiting Entrepreneurship?


Up for Debate: Is Government Limiting Entrepreneurship?

Houston Professional
Apr 24, 2017 6:30pm — 8:30pm Houston, TX
Monday Apr 24
Monday Apr 24 2017
PAST EVENT Monday Apr 24 2017

The Debate

Entrepreneurship is not living up to its growth potential.

Is Government to Blame?

The economy is not growing like it once did. From the end of World War II through 1980, U.S. GDP grew 3.3 percent each year on average. The 35 years that followed saw the emergence of venture capital, the personal computer, the Internet and the iPhone. High-growth, high-technology firms now account for one-fifth of the value of U.S. publicly traded companies, yet real GDP growth has fallen to an average of just 2.6 percent per year.

The Debaters

In Favor

Arguing in favor of the motion: government overreach and regulation are standing in the way of innovation and entrepreneurship:

  • Paul Martino, General Partner, BullPen Capital
  • James Bailey, Assistant Professor of Economics, Heider College of Business, Creighton University


Arguing against the motion: thoughtful public-private collaboration can be a successful means to entrepreneurial growth:

  • Yael Hochberg, Ralph S. O'Connor Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship (Finance); Head, Entrepreneurship Initiative, Jones Graduate School of Business, Rice University
  • Aziz Gilani, Partner, Mercury Fund


  • Edward J. Egan Director, McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, at Rice University’s Baker Institute


Hosted by the Adam Smith Society’s Rice Jones and Houston Professional Chapters, together with the McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Baker Institute, Rice University

About the Participants

Paul Martino

General Partner, BullPen Capital

Paul Martino is the founder of four companies including Ahpah Software (a computer security firm acquired by InterTrust); Tribe (one of the world’s first social networks), and Aggregate Knowledge (a big data advertising attribution company acquired in 2014 by Neustar). Paul’s early online gaming innovations in multi-player user experience from almost 20 years ago are the inspiration for several of the modern social gaming offerings.  He is the holder of over a dozen core patents covering social networking and big data. Prior to forming Bullpen, he was an active angel investor and personally invested in the first rounds of Zynga, TubeMogul, and uDemy. Paul founded Bullpen in 2010 and has led several of its key investments including FanDuel, Namely, Ipsy, SpotHero, Classy, and Airmap. Paul holds a BS in Mathematics from Lehigh University and a Masters in Computer Science from Princeton University.

James Bailey

Assistant Professor of Economics, Heider College of Business, Creighton University

James Bailey is Assistant Professor of Economics at the Heider College of Business at Creighton University. He earned his Ph.D. at Temple University in 2014, and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Tulsa. His areas of research interest are health policy, health insurance, and entrepreneurship. He has numerous publications to his credit, and serves as a referee for several academic journals.

Yael Hochberg

Ralph S. O'Connor Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship (Finance) | Head, Entrepreneurship Initiative, Jones Graduate School of Business, Rice University

Yael Hochberg is Head of the Entrepreneurship Initiative at the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University. She also holds the position of Rice University's Ralph S. O'Connor Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship (Finance). Her research and teaching interests are focused on entrepreneurship, innovation, and the financing of entrepreneurial activity. In addition to her doctorate in finance from Stanford, she holds a B.Sc. in Industrial Engineering and Management from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and an A.M. in Economics from Stanford University. Her research has been published in top tier journals, and she is an Associate Editor at the Journal of Banking and Finance and the Journal of Empirical Finance. She holds a Research Affiliate position with MIT’s Sloan School of Management and is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. In 2015, she was named one of the world’s 40 under 40 best business school professors by Poets and Quants. In 2016, she was awarded the Ewing Marion Kauffman Prize Medal for Distinguished Research in Entrepreneurship.

Aziz Gilani

Partner, Mercury Fund

Aziz Gilani is a Partner at Mercury, where he focuses on investments in enterprise SaaS, Cloud and data science startups. Aziz currently serves on the boards of Mercury portfolio companies Datical, GameSalad, Graylog, Koupon Media (observer), Label Insight (observer), ShareThis (observer) and Trendkite (observer). Aziz’s previous investments at Mercury have included BlackLocus (acq. by The Home Depot), Infochimps (acq. by CSC), Modest (acq. by PayPal), and Phurnace Software (acq. by BMC Software). Prior to joining Mercury, Aziz was a Senior Engagement Leader with Infosys Consulting, an early executive at ABB Performance Services, a Senior Consultant at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, and an Analyst at Lotus Development Corp. Aziz received his BBA from the University of Texas where he was a TILF Scholar, and his MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management where he was an FC Austin Scholar. In addition, Aziz is a graduate of the Kauffman Fellows Program through the Center for Venture Education, where he completed industry-defining field work on Seed Accelerators. Outside of Mercury, Aziz serves in advisory roles for Knight Foundation, the Mayor of Houston’s Tech and Innovation Council, Seed Accelerator Rankings, and SXSW Interactive. He is also an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business where he teaches a course on venture capital. 

Edward J. Egan

Director, McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation McNair Center, Rice University’s Baker Institute

Edward J. Egan is a fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute and director of the Baker Institute’s McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He was previously an assistant professor of entrepreneurship at Imperial College Business School, in London, England, and the innovation policy fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Egan is an applied micro-economist, specializing in entrepreneurial finance, intellectual property policy and start-up strategy. He was the recipient of the Earl F. Cheit award for teaching MBA micro-economics and was nominated for a teaching excellence award for his class on government and business. Egan is a serial entrepreneur who co-founded his first high-tech start-up at the age of 19. Egan earned a BSc. with honors in physics from University College London and an MSc. in business administration from the Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia. He received his Ph.D. from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.



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