Morgan Beller, who is a co-creator of the proposed Libra digital currency, along with Facebook vice presidents David Marcus and Kevin Weil, has left the company to become a general partner with the venture firm NFX.
In a call yesterday, she said she first became acquainted with the San Francisco-based outfit five years ago when on a “tech trek” to Israel, she met its local partner, Gigi Levy-Weiss, and formed a friendship with him.
At the time, she was a young partner at Andreessen Horowitz, working on its deal team after graduating from Cornell as a statistics major.
A role working on corporate development and strategy at Medium would follow, then it was on to Facebook in 2017, where Beller began in corporate development and — intrigued by cryptocurrency tech — where she quickly began evangelizing to her bosses the importance of better understanding it.
As she half-jokingly explains it, “Crypto is a mental virus for which there is no cure. I was at a16z when they got infected with the crypto virus.” She eventually caught it herself, and by the time she joined Facebook, she says she “realized no one was thinking about that space full time, so I took it upon myself to [help the company] figure out its point of view.”
Indeed, a CNBC story about Beller last year reports that at one point, she was the sole person on a Facebook blockchain initiative — meeting with those in the know, attending relevant events and otherwise researching the technology. Bill Barhydt, the CEO of the digital wallet startup Abra, told the outlet of Beller: “I give her a lot of credit for taking what seems like a very methodical, long-term approach to figuring this out.”
All that said, Beller notes that as a full-time investor with NFX, she will not be focused exclusively or even mainly on crypto. Her focus instead will be finding and helping to cultivate seed-stage startups that aim to grow so-called network effects businesses.
It’s the broad theme of NFX, a now 25-person outfit co-founded five years ago by serial entrepreneurs who have all seen their companies acquired, including Levy-Weiss (who co-founded the social casino game publisher Playtika); Pete Flint (founder of the home buyers’ site Trulia and on the founding team of the online travel site Lastminute.com); and James Currier (of the social network Tickle).
Certainly, she will keep busy at the firm, she suggests. As part of better getting to know the partners and their thinking, she introduced them to one company that they have since funded.
The pace has generally picked up, Flint tells us, saying that during the second quarter of this year and the third, NFX has twice broken its own investing records both because of “incredible founders who are reacting to this opportunity” and growing awareness about NFX, which last year closed its second fund with $275 million.
Last month, for example, NFX led a seed round for Warmly, a nine-month-old, San Francisco-based startup whose product tracks individuals in a customer’s CRM system, then sends out a notification when one of his or her contacts changes jobs. It also led a round recently for Jupiter, a year-old, San Francisco-based grocery delivery startup.
Naturally, Beller’s new partners are full of praise for her. Flint says the firm began looking for a fourth partner two years ago and that it has “spoken with dozens of exceptional people” since then, but it “always came back to Morgan.”
As for why the 27-year-old is ready to leap back into VC, Beller says that her work across Facebook and Medium and a16z “made me realize my favorite parts of projects is that zero-to-one phase and that with investing, it’s zero-to-one all day” with a team she wanted to be part of.
Further, she adds, while at Facebook, she was helping scout out deals for the venture firm Spark Capital, so she’s already well-acquainted with the types of founders to which she gravitates. “They’re are all weird in the right ways, and they’re all maniacally obsessed with winning.”
As for how she launches her career as a general partner in a pandemic, she notes that she loves walking and that she’ll happily cover 20 miles a day if given the opportunity.
“If anyone wants to safely walk with me,” she suggests that she’d love it. Says Beller, “I’m not worried about San Francisco longer term. I don’t think there’s a replacement for in-person meetings.”