Where did you work before Trinity Ventures?
I was an entrepreneur for most of my career before joining Trinity. I was fortunate to co-found Pinnacle Systems, a pioneering digital media company, which grew from my living room to a $350M revenue global company and went public on NASDAQ. I have walked in an entrepreneur’s shoes so I can feel what they are going through as they put their heart and soul into building an enduring company. I think of myself as a VC with an entrepreneur’s heart.
What is your investment focus and why?
I’m diversified in my interests, spending time in both consumer and business applications and services that improve our lives and help us focus on creativity by removing drudgery. Each year I spend time diving into a new sector so I can make informed bets, either then or in the future. I have an affinity towards innovations that disrupt existing market players with a differentiated perspective, leveraging the mobile, data and cloud revolutions.
What value should a VC add to a portfolio company?
Some entrepreneurs think that “VC value add” is an oxymoron and I do believe that that VCs should adhere to the principle of “first, do no harm”. However having been a CEO myself, I know it is a lonely job. So I strive to be a consigliere and a confidant to my CEOs; that board member who the CEO calls first because of mutual trust. I am there to discuss a thought that may be nagging a CEO at an odd hour, to help open a few doors or close that key hire (I have been told that I am good at closing candidates). I am there when the CEO is contemplating a tough decision; to offer a perspective based on my own experiences as an entrepreneur. That said, I do not profess to know my portfolio companies’ businesses better than the CEOs, nor do I get up on a high horse and pontificate.
What do you do when not working?
My family loves to ski in the winter and we try to get out to the slopes when we can. I also enjoy boating when the weather is good and if I can find the time. My wife and I are avid tandem bikers. As we raised our two boys (and three dogs!) we found tandem biking to be most therapeutic activity for us as a couple: a special time alone for just the two of us. Can’t get too far from each other when you are on that tandem!