An Ending and Fallow Time
A tribute to my 8 years at Shasta Ventures.
Welcome to issue #8 of next big thing.
First there is an ending, then a beginning, and important empty or fallow time in between. That is the order of things in nature.
-William Bridges in Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes.
We often celebrate and pay tribute to new beginnings.
But we rarely take the time to do the same for endings.
Yesterday was my last day at Shasta Ventures.
This marks the end of an important and defining chapter for me. Shasta has been a constant in my life for almost 8 years. I've never been at a school or lived in a house for that long. I haven't even known my wife for 8 years!
So I suppose Shasta has been the thing most attached to my identity, outside of my family and the countries I've lived in, for the most time in my life.
I'm excited to move on, and to write the next chapter.
But I invested a lot of energy into Shasta, learned so much from my time at the firm, and I'd like to pay tribute to that journey here.
Fireside chat with Elizabeth Slavitt at The Lift 2019, an annual gathering we put together in Kirkwood, CA, for founders to get to know one another better.
First, I'd like to thank my partners and the entire staff, as well as alumni, of the firm.
Thank you Alaina, Alex, Asabi, Avery, Austin, Caitlin, Catherine, Doug, Elena, Issac, Jacob, Jason, Jayaram, Jim, Joydeep, Kelly, Kenn, Megan, MeiLin, Natalie, Nitin, Phil, Rachel, Ravi, Rob, Rose, Sean, Tod, and Vy.
I loved working with you and I wish you all well.
Thanks in particular to Shasta co-founder Tod Francis, who I met when I was still an undergrad in 2010, and who recruited me. I'll never forget his phone call to give me the offer in 2012. He told me:
You can join next week, next month, or next year. We don't care. We just want you to be the next member of the Shasta team.
That belief meant a great deal. It convinced me to join, and helped me thrive once inside the firm.
I joined Shasta as an Associate, age 23, but I remember one of my partners pulling me aside early on in my tenure and telling me:
Don't worry about the title on your business card. You're a venture capitalist now. Do as venture capitalists do. Find, Decide, Win, Help, Exit - those are the 5 parts of the job. Work on them all.
I'm incredibly grateful for that advice, and for the increased responsibility that the Shasta partnership gave me over the years.
Looking back, I also took some of the foundational elements of my role for granted. I was in every partnership meeting from day one, discussing new investments and hearing updates on the portfolio. I got to shadow board meetings as an observer from my first month. I learned so much from being in the room where it happens, and I learned there's no substitute for just being able to be in the room.
A huge thanks to Shasta for giving me the opportunity to learn and to succeed.
Second, a huge thank you to the founders who I got to invest in and work with.
When you're early in your venture career, you're taking a chance on companies just as much as they're taking a chance on you as their investor.
To the teams at Athelas, Blume, Brigit, Canva, ClassDojo, Color Genomics, Cover, FlyHomes, Frame.io, Imperfect Foods, Kapwing, Lattice, Let's Do This, Literati, RDMD, Second Measure, Tally, Tandem, The Farmer's Dog, and The Pill Club — THANK YOU for letting me be a small part of your journey!
I'm particularly grateful to the founders and CEOs who I had a chance to work with in the board room — especially Bryan & Sonu, Sam & Liam, Clint & Roshan, Jonathan, Justin, Bart & Anthony, Jonathan & Brett, Jason & Jasper, Philip & the Bens, Emery, Nick, Albert, and Jessica. And to the many other founders I got to work with in the Shasta portfolio, I so appreciate our time together, and all that you taught me.
Third, thank you to our limited partners, the fellow board members and co-investors I got to work with, and the many other friends I made over the past 8 years.
If you had told me I would have the chance to serve on boards and work closely with companies alongside so many people I admired — including Aileen Lee, Andy Dunn, Anne Raimondi, Dick Costolo, Eurie Kim, Hemant Taneja, Hunter Walk, Jason Goldman, Jeff Lieberman, Katie Jacobs Stanton, Keith Rabois, Mamoon Hamid, Mark Vadon, Mike Smith, and Sumaiya Balbale — I would have said "there's a 0.0001% chance."
But that's what happened, and many of the people I look up to have become my friends. I feel incredibly lucky.
I leave Shasta with a scorecard of “my” investments. I’m proud of the list and of the numbers, but they are such a small part of the story.
Investments are team efforts, and we, as investors, don't deserve nearly as much credit as we're bestowed — it’s the founders who do all the hard work.
What is meaningful, however, is the set of relationships I've built, and everything I've learned about what to do and what not to do as a venture capitalist and board member.
I'm excited to take all of that with me as I write the next chapter.
I'm going to keep investing in purpose-driven founders building breakthrough products.
I hope many of these investments will help solve the most important challenges of our time, such as the climate crisis, access to education and healthcare, and societal inequality. Many of these companies will be consumer-oriented, as well as those that are both consumer and enterprise.
I hope to work alongside people who I'm aligned with on principles and values, but who have complementary and diverse perspectives from me.
I’ll continue to give back with my time as a trustee of my high school, and hopefully to many more causes in the decades ahead.
I'll keep writing about my pursuit of the next big thing.
And I'm excited to get in some quality fallow time, as well, before hitting the ground running again.