Q: You’ve been incredibly successful as a VC—you’ve had numerous major exits and been named to the Forbes Midas list several times. To what do you attribute your success?
I think the most important thing about being successful in the venture business is being able to work with these great entrepreneurs. We try to find them at an early stage then roll up our sleeves and help them be successful.
I spend a lot of time understanding team DNA. Why are they motivated to start a company? What are they hoping to do an in a unique way?
The other piece is understanding big trends and their relevance to new opportunities being created in the marketplace. It is often at the intersections of these different trends that the best new opportunities emerge.
Q: Gil Penchina said that one of the key lessons he has learned about investing is how little control he has over the outcome of an investment. Do you feel the same way? Or do you feel you can have significant influence on a startup’s outcome?
I think we can have pretty significant impact but success really comes down to the company’s team.The key to an investor/entrepreneur relationship is building trust. You want the entrepreneurs to trust you enough to genuinely ask your opinion on matters like hiring and strategic direction.
We can also make a big difference on both the size and quality of an acquisition based on how we manage the process of maximizing the exit. In all these ways, an engaged, trusted venture partner can influence the outcome.