I’m drawn to entrepreneurs who are makers—who are hands-on building the product in the early days.
Before joining Spero, I was a general partner at Spark Capital, where I led a dozen investments on behalf of the firm. Before that, I worked in product design. I enjoy the world of venture because I’m a huge tech geek with a talent for keeping a cool head—as a result, I’m often a founder’s first call in times of adversity. At high-stakes turning points, when founders need to steer the ship toward a new vision that requires consensus from the board, I’m happy to catalyze that consensus with a steady hand.
Here are a few of my representative investments:
When I met Henry Ward of Carta, I was already acutely familiar with the pain he was alleviating. Even though the cap table is the single most sensitive document at a company, the process for building and maintaining them was awfully mechanical, and every cap table I’d ever laid eyes on had at least one mistake in it. That horrified me. The problem so clearly needed a software solution, and I was proud to invest in what Ward was building for it.
Nylas solved another problem that I’d seen firsthand, when I was working as a software developer. Like Plaid abstracting away the complication of integrating with financial institutions’ customers’ data, Nylas handles all the difficulties of access, compliance, security, and API-maintenance with a single layer of abstraction that unlocks access to 100% coverage of inboxes and calendars from all providers. For developers, implementing solutions to multiple APIs to solve the same problem is tedious, and I appreciated how Nylas cleanly encapsulated the process with API as a service.
Successful modern companies employ a build-measure-learn feedback cycle. You take an initial position on what your product should be, and you build it. Then, you measure your audience’s response, analyze the data, and use the insights to inform the next iteration. For many years, it was clear that schools needed to engage in a build-measure-learn feedback cycle, too—but no one had made it happen before Panorama. Panorama did what others couldn’t, efficiently modernizing the student feedback process and empowering schools to be more iterative and data-driven. When I saw the best strength of web services being brought to education, combined with the remarkable traction Panorama had secured with customers, I got really excited about investing.
So often when building a product, it’s too easy for designers to dismiss the rough edges where the product interacts with other layers of abstraction as “not my problem.” Particle got my attention by taking the opposite approach. To smooth out the full experience of getting an IoT project live, Particle implemented well-designed, first-party defaults that just work, and built these defaults in modular, loosely coupled ways that allow you to swap in alternatives as desired. It was fantastic to see Particle taking the complex and difficult problem of bringing hardware services online and encapsulating them cleanly in well-led execution.
There’s more detail about my investing history on my website.
What’s your 10-year dream?
There’s a classic Internet expression that “no one on the internet knows when you’re a dog.” In other words, we think of the internet as an egalitarian place—a level playing field. But when you look at most tech companies, they’re filled with a lot of people who look like me. It seems to me that while talent is equally distributed, access still isn’t, even online.
The idea that the internet can flatten the world—so that talent can thrive wherever it is—still gets me excited, and I do think it’s possible to achieve that vision. I’d love to see a way in which technology can truly fulfill its original egalitarian expectation, and I hope to be part of a solution that creates a truly equitable and fair environment for building wealth via the Internet.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I’m an insatiable reader who’s been reviewing all kinds of books for more than 10 years. On Goodreads, you can see a list of what’s in my library, sorted by star rating.