Many compare the process of picking a partner at a VC firm (or an angel) to back your idea to the act of getting married. You better be ready to be comfortable in the trenches with this person, because the startup journey is a roller coaster.
Amidst the debate over value-added services vs. classic VC, what it really comes down to is picking the right partner to help you go down one of the most challenging paths of your life. At the end of the day, outsourcing services such as recruiting and marketing can help, but founders need to have an experienced and successful operator by their side who has been through the challenges of finding product-market fit, raising funding in tough climates, dealing with layoffs and much more.
The VCs who will be sitting on the investor panel at Disrupt SF next week — Aileen Lee (Cowboy Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers), John Lilly (Greylock Partners), Bryan Schreier (Sequoia Capital), and Mike Volpi (Index Ventures) — have not only been in the trenches themselves, but have been helping some of the Valley’s new generation of successful founders, including Drew Houston, Kevin Systrom and others travel down their respective paths of entrepreneurship.
Lee, who has helped lead investments in One Kings Lane, Rent The Runway and Trendyol, joined Kleiner Perkins in 1999 after founding a company and working in several operating roles at The Gap, Odwalla and others. She most recently founded her own seed-stage firm Cowboy Ventures. Lilly, who has led Greylock’s investments in Instagram, Dropbox, MessageMe, and Tumblr, was previously CEO of Mozilla, and also co-founded Reactivity, an enterprise security infrastructure company acquired by Cisco in 2007. Schreier has led Sequoia’s investments in Dropbox, and Hearsay among others, and prior to joining the firm, was the Senior Director of International Online Sales and Operations at Google, launching Google’s Europe headquarters and leading sales in China. Volpi serves on the boards of Path, Sonos, Lookout, Hortonworks, Soundcloud, Big Switch Networks, and Zuora, among others.
Is there a resurgence of consumer after some of the fallout with the Series A Crunch? Are value-added services worth it? Are VC returns going to bounce back? Is there a diversity problem in the VC ecosystem? We’re going to be tackling these issues and more.
These VCs will take the stage next week with other notable speakers, including Mark Zuckerberg, Marc Benioff, Michael Moritz, John Doerr, Doug Leone, Dick Costolo, Marissa Mayer, and Jeff Weiner.
Disrupt SF takes over The San Francisco Design Concourse starting this Saturday, September 7 to 11. Tickets are currently on sale here. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, opportunities can be found here.
Aileen Lee is an investor at StyleSeat Inc. She is also a Founder of Cowboy Ventures, a digital seed-stage focused fund founded in 2012. She is also a Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which she joined in 1999.
She was also founding CEO of RMG Networks (formerly Danoo) the leading digital out-of-home media network backed by KPCB and DAG. Prior to joining KPCB, Aileen worked at Gap Inc. in various Operating roles. She has also worked for Odwalla and for The North Face in Brand and Product Marketing. Aileen began her career at Morgan Stanley in Technology Mergers & Acquisitions. She has a Bachelor of Science from MIT. An MBA from the Harvard Business School.
She is a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute.
John Lilly is a Partner at Greylock since 2011.
Prior to Greylock, John was CEO of Mozilla, the organization behind Firefox, an open source Web browser used by more than 450 million people. John also co-founded Reactivity, an enterprise security infrastructure company acquired by Cisco in 2007, where he served as founding CEO and later CTO.
Earlier in his career, John held positions on the executive team at Trilogy Software and as a Senior Scientist in Apple’s research labs.
John is currently on the Board of Directors of Citrus Lane, Clearslide, Code for America, Mozilla Corporation, and the Participatory Culture Foundation.
He is a board observer at Tumblr, and led Greylock’s investments in Dropbox and Instagram.
John holds a BS in Computer Systems Engineering and an MS in Computer Science with a focus on Human Computer Interaction, both from Stanford University.
He is currently a Consulting Assistant Professor at Stanford’s Institute of Design in the Engineering School. He is also an adviser to the Stanford Technology Ventures Program as well as StartX (formerly SSE Labs), an incubator with ties to Stanford University.
He is a co-inventor on seven United States patents.
Bryan Schreier is a partner at Sequoia Capital. Bryan currently sits on the board of Dropbox, Hearsay, Qualtrics, MindSnacks, and Inkling and is a board observer for Trulia.
Previously, Bryan was Senior Director of International Online Sales and Operations at Google. He also launched Google’s Europe headquarters and was interim President of Sales in China.
Prior to Google, Bryan worked in Morgan Stanley’s Technology Investment Banking Group. Bryan has a Computer Science degree from Princeton University.
Index Venture Management U.S.
Mike Volpi has been a partner at Index Ventures since 2009. He is focused on investments in the enterprise software infrastructure and consumer Internet sectors. Mike led the investment by Index Ventures in Cloud.com (CTRX) and StorSimple (MSFT) and is currently a director of Sonos, Soundcloud, Lookout, Path, Big Switch Networks, Zuora, Hortonworks, Pure Storage, and Elasticsearch. Mike also serves on the board of EXOR SpA (EXO:IM)
Mike performed in various executive roles for 13 years at Cisco Systems from 1994. He served as the company’s Chief Strategy Officer, where he was responsible for Cisco’s corporate strategy as well as business development, strategic alliances, advanced Internet projects, legal services, and government affairs. During this tenure, Mike was instrumental in the creation of the company’s acquisition and investment strategies, as Cisco acquired more than 70 companies during his tenure. He then became Senior Vice President & General Manager of the Routing and Service Provider Technology Group, where he led Cisco’s business for the Service Provider market, and was also responsible for all of Cisco’s routing products. In 2007, this was an $11 billion business for Cisco. Mike began his career as a product development engineer in Hewlett-Packard’s Optoelectronics Division. Prior to Index, he was the CEO of Joost – an innovator in the field of premium video services delivered over the Internet.
Mike has a B.S in Mechanical Engineering and an M.S. on Manufacturing Systems Engineering from Stanford University, and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is a trustee of the Stanford Business School Trust and he also serves on the board of WITNESS, a non-profit organization focused on human rights.