Archive for March, 2013

Dickensian Moments

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Edwin A. Goodman was a classmate at Choate; we graduated in 1958. I went on to Harvard, he to Yale.  After college he joined the family business, Bergdorf Goodman. They sold the business in 1972, but still own the land and the building. He then went on to a career in banking and investment.

Ed’s now a general partner at Milestone Venture Partners, located at 555 Madison Avenue in Manhattan: “Milestone Venture Partners is an early stage venture capital fund with $90 million under management.” Based on the mailing list from our 50th reunion, I receive his quarterly newsletter, Milestone Matters. The Winter 2013 edition arrived in the mail on March 20th, and the introduction includes the following:

“Then I took the short walk to the University Club for a lunch date. Along the way I passed a homeless woman feebly tapping her plastic cup seeking contributions. Sheltered only with a threadbare blanket, she was shivering in the cold. I entered the club and asked the attendant at the front desk to alert the police to assist the woman to find shelter and was informed that the police had been called and had spo- ken to the woman but she declined help. Under the City’s high minded pristine, respect for individual civil rights, this poor creature cannot be moved against her will and will likely perish. It is ironic that not cruelty or indifference but a misguided interpretation of respect for individual liberties produced this Dickensian moment in modern Manhattan. I proceeded into the club, walked by a roaring fire in the grand lobby fireplace past a bar where mulled wine was being served and continued on to my rendezvous.”

Later, under Milestone Portfolio News, Ed says (inter alia) “On December 28, 2012, Knovel, Inc. was acquired by Elsevier, Inc. MVP II invested in Knovel’s Series B and Series C rounds between 2002 and 2009 and achieved a 3.6x multiple of its invested capital and a 15.2% IRR.” I’m not sure what that all means, but it sounds like they’re successful.

I took the opportunity to send an email to my old classmate:

Dear Ed;

I’m writing both as a classmate (Choate ‘58) and a fellow Marine.

I just received my copy of Milestone Matters. I was struck by the contrast between the story about the homeless woman with the ‘threadbare blanket’ and the successes listed in Milestone Portfolio News.

I am a long time volunteer and now a board member of the Arundel House of Hope here in Anne Arundel County, MD, which includes Annapolis. The House of Hope provides shelter for about seventy homeless people nightly from October through April, using the facilities and services of volunteer churches (and one synagogue) throughout the northern part of the county. Last year we opened a free clinic as well as a purpose-built transitional house for homeless veterans. See www.arundelhoh.org.

While I might agree with you about “a misguided interpretation of respect for individual liberties,” I must say that the newsletter offers an even more Dickensian moment.

I cannot believe that it would have been impossible, much less an imposition, for you yourself to have found a way to have provided her some assistance, some comfort. Perhaps Bergdorf Goodman still sells blankets?

Hope to see you at Choate in May.

Sincerely,

Bob Knisely

I sent the note at 5:28pm, and received the following reply at 7:24pm:

Bob:

Thanks for your note. It is always gratifying to receive correspondence that confirms that the Newsletter actually has readers. My congratulations to you and your associates for your good work in Anne Arundel County.

Regards,

EAG

Sent from my iPad

To which I immediately sent the following response:

Doesn’t really answer the question, Ed. Did you at least give her some money?

Haven’t heard a word since…