After spending over a decade in the Bay Area, I’m excited to announce that I’ve switched coasts (jury is still out on which is truly the best coast!) to join Canaan’s NYC office as a Principal, along with my new colleague Byron, to help expand the firm’s consumer practice.
We’re doubling down on consumer because we continue to see significant opportunity in the market. New technology has made it easier than ever to start a business and reach consumers. Entrepreneurs – especially younger founders – have seized the moment, matching the momentum in technology with enthusiasm, audacity and grit. These are exactly the types of founders that I am excited to back.
I am passionate about investing because it’s the best way I’ve found to apply lessons from the wins and losses I’ve experienced. A good investor isn’t just a check – the money comes with experience, relationships and a perspective that’s unique. During my time at Canaan, I’ve been in the boardroom for companies like Cuyana, Cargomatic, Unifi and World View. Looking at that list, one thing sticks out: wow, that’s an odd bunch to list together! It spans luxury apparel, trucking logistics, data visualization and finally, space exploration. But that’s the Canaan way – we learn from different sectors. Too often, innovation is siloed.
Good investors have also been on the other side of the table – developing empathy for entrepreneurs is difficult if you haven’t shared the experience. I was one of the first 20 team members at Kabam (acquired for $800M), where I helped build the company into the largest Facebook application at the time. In 2017 I teamed up with Marie Kondo, NYT bestselling author of “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up,” to help her launch a new product business. Both experiences, along with stints at Greenhouse and Branch Metrics, taught me that company building is crazy-hard. I saw major pivots, product launches, partnership formations, hirings, riffs and fundraises. In all of these moments, I learned not only the tactical lessons of getting a company off of the ground, but also the emotional rollercoaster that every founder and team goes through.
Another thing I’ve learned from my work with Marie Kondo: consumers aren’t just looking for products – they’re looking for companies with values. Newer customers – namely millennials and Gen Z – want to believe in the vision for the company. They want to be intentional with where their attention and dollars – and each of those dollars is a vote for the company’s new way of doing something. This shift towards values-based, experience-driven engagement affects all sectors: commerce, new media, gaming, services and the very platforms that underlie them. I’m looking to back companies that are tackling this head-on.
I’m excited to back consumer companies that will transform behavior, deeply improve quality of life – and do so in ways that delight. Canaan is a firm that breaks the mold when it comes to backing founders with unique ideas, but also in supporting our own investors who bring new perspectives to the table. I’m thrilled to take the next step as part of this team.