This is my first blog post in what I hope will become a recurring series. It will be on a more personal level, capturing my own journey and thought process bridging 15 years of tech-focused experience across sales and marketing operations and investment banking at Goldman Sachs, to ultimately the excitement in fulfilling my passion for early stage tech investments by joining Viola Ventures as a partner.
A decade ago I moved to New York to pursue an MBA at Columbia Business School with the goal of becoming a tech investment banker. Prior to Columbia, I led sales and marketing for the connectivity software business at Jungo Software and during the acquisition by NDS in 2006, I figured that selling companies is exciting, challenging and impactful – and a fitting next chapter in my career. And so, after a grueling summer internship at Goldman Sachs in 2008 (interesting timing; deserves its own blog post), I spent the following eight years in the tech, media and telecom (TMT) investment banking group at the firm.
Goldman Sachs did not earn its stellar reputation for nothing. It fulfilled its premise – a culture of excellence and professionalism, working alongside smart and driven colleagues in a team-oriented environment, with continuous deal flow that made a real impact across the industries we served (and the commercial success that came with it).
At Goldman, I served as a senior vice president and east coast software sector captain, and during my tenure sourced, led and/or executed 30+ M&A, equity, debt and institutional investments transactions totaling $120bn+ across the full gamut – from startups to billions in market cap enterprises: from leading institutional investments backing young founders like Mark43, to taking Alarm.com public, to helping Endurance acquire Constant Contact and Compuware/Dynatrace with its sale to Thoma Bravo, as well as “mega deals” like the DirecTV acquisition by AT&T. No deal was created equal as each came with its own intricacies around tailored positioning, conflicting agendas, negotiating tactics and valuation drivers.
At the core, I served as a trusted advisor to hundreds of companies throughout their lifecycle on what matters most – growth, profitability, valuation, scalability, positioning and exit strategy whether in private or public markets – and throughout this process one learns to recognize, conduct due diligence and advise on what it takes to succeed both qualitatively and quantitatively. It is an experience that interconnects with the venture world throughout the cycle – identifying, investing, nurturing, scaling and positioning a company for success whether through a follow-on investment, IPO or M&A.
That all sounds great – and it was – but it also felt like something was missing. My transition to VC was triggered by an aspiration to shift from “burst-mode” advisory and execution capacity, albeit at the highest levels, to more of a principalling, entrepreneurial and long term value creation role. To me, venture investments are about taking the long journey with entrepreneurs, building a relationship, unveiling cutting edge technology, identifying and seizing growth opportunities along the way, and creating long lasting, sustainable value together.
Through covering young companies at Goldman and making institutional/private angel investments in companies like Mark43, Paperspace (YC W15), Second Measure (YC S15) and HYPR, I have learned that executing on key levers early on yields a strong foundation that positions companies for continued success, accelerates time to market and helps scale efficiently and effectively. Leveraging the trusted advisor experience, those key levers include optimal business model, go to market strategy, sales KPIs, driver-backed financial models, vendor negotiations and customized positioning to different stakeholders — all coupled, of course, with access to an international ecosystem of potential customers, channels and strategic partners.
At the end of it all, it is quite remarkable how a small team with a big idea, passion and the right execution can truly change the world, and I am confident that now is the time to leverage my experience and international network to identify, partner with and successfully scale the next-gen innovation cycle led by talented entrepreneurs.
When I was introduced to the opportunity at Viola Ventures, I was immediately intrigued. Viola’s reputation and track record of building category leaders (Outbrain, ironSource, Payoneer to name a few) precedes it, and as such it has been on my radar and a focus fund for Goldman Sachs for years. Over the last few months, I had the privilege of getting to know the amazing Viola Ventures team as well as speak with entrepreneurs, industry veterans, VC professionals and LPs. Viola Ventures demonstrates a unique DNA of partnership, professionalism, judgment, collaboration and above all – an entrepreneur-centric mentality. It is a phenomenal platform for me to pursue my passion for early stage tech investments and for entrepreneurs to build category leaders with an operational partner on their side.
I am extremely proud and excited to join the Viola family. My focus will remain where I have gained domain expertise, namely enterprise/SME software, fintech, SaaS and cloud infrastructure. Enabling platforms such as mobile, cloud and now AI continue to facilitate disruption across enterprises, SMEs and financial institutions and we are at the early innings of ubiquitous computing, verticalized solutions and tech enabled services – exciting times for all of us ahead.
I am looking forward to meeting talented teams, engaging in discussions around technology and market dynamics, and partnering together to build best-in-class category leaders in the space. Please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org