Today begins my first week at Venrock. I’m excited and very humbled to join this long-standing team of whip-smart, hardworking investors in supporting you, the entrepreneur. Drawing on my background, I’ll be investing in consumer, commerce enablement, and SMB services & tools. I imagine my focus may evolve over time. However, there’s one thing that will remain consistent – my commitment in service to you, the founder.
As the new kid on the investing block, I wanted to share three snapshots that give you some color on me. In 2005, Steve Jobs gave my commencement speech at Stanford. One phrase in particular lingered with me over the years: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” So here are three snippets into what’s shaped my perspective of our relationship.
🤝 The Goldman Sachs Years – The Client Always Comes First. That Means You.
Before my transition into tech, I spent eight years at Goldman. It was my first job out of college, and I stayed because I loved my clients and I loved New York City. I covered retail and consumer brands, supporting founders and CEOs through financings, acquisitions, and IPOs.
My first day at Goldman, I was given a laminated sheet of the firm principles. It was the Goldman version of the ten commandments. I forgot most of them, except the first which was in big, bold letters. Principle #1: The client always comes first.
Banking is a services business. Your role is to support your client. And here’s the thing, venture capital is no different. As the founder, you’re my client. It’s my job to earn your trust. This means consistently showing up, listening more than speaking, and supporting you as your company evolves. And if that means flying to Chicago on my birthday in the midst of a midwestern winter, I will do it!
🎢 The Pinterest Years – Startups Are a Roller Coaster. Lean on Each Other.
In 2012, I got the sense that something was happening out west. And I knew where I wanted to be: Pinterest. As someone who loved getting lost on the streets of New York, I was looking for the same serenditipous experience online. The moment I saw Pinterest, I knew this was it.
It took over a year of pitching (aka begging) before I was hired to help build their monetization engine from the ground up. Going from banking, where consistency is the name of the game, to startups, where each day unfolded differently was equal parts exhilarating and scary as hell.
We all know that startups are an emotional roller coaster ride. I can only imagine how amplified this is for the founder. What got me through the lows were two things – my merry band of coworkers and our unequivocal faith in Pinterest’s success. And that’s the same perspective I bring to my relationship with you. The lows feel more overcomable when you’re surrounded by those who believe in you.
👤 The Facebook Years – The Next Zuck Looks Like You.
In my roles at Pinterest and Goldman Sachs, I mainly worked with larger companies. So when I heard that Facebook was increasing its focus on SMBs, I jumped at the chance to lead its long tail advertising business. I met small business owners from around the world. And it opened my eyes in a big way to the diversity and ingenuity of entrepreneurs from all walks of life.
There is no “central casting” for the small business owner. This allows for a greater expression for what a successful business owner looks and thinks like. There’s the 24-year-old woman in rural Indonesia who runs a multi-million dollar batik business. There’s the 55-year-old army veteran in Louisiana who’s cornered his local towing market. I saw this diversity of backgrounds in a visceral way in working with SMBs. Quite honestly, I wouldn’t have grasped it otherwise.
The Internet has expanded access in a way that didn’t exist before. This means world-changing businesses can emerge from any number of communities. I strongly believe that the next Facebook will be built by someone who looks and thinks like you. And it’s my job to find and partner with you.
🙋🏻♀️ I Look Forward to Meeting You.
It takes a special person to have the tenacity and optimism to build a world-changing company – to bring the art of the possible to the realm of reality. In times like these, we need you more than ever. I look forward to meeting you, supporting you, and riding the highs and lows of the startup roller coaster with you in the weeks, months, and years to come.