Morning Panel: Regional and Cross-Border Investing: State of the VC Firm in 2017 and Beyond
What sectors do VC firms favor by region? Which regions have thriving entrepreneur communities and what drives the emergence of such communities? How does local culture impact venture investing? How do regional VCs pitch their differentiation to potential limited partners? What will venture capital look like five years from now in the US and worldwide? What uncertainty will VC in different regions face?
Partner, General Catalyst
Spencer is a Partner at General Catalyst and leads their NYC office. He focuses on early stage services leveraging network effects driven by a community, marketplace, or data. Recent areas of interest include financial services, insurance, and the future of work. His investments at GC include Giphy, ClassPass, WayUp, Lemonade, L2, and Fundbox.
PJ is a Partner at Northzone, a € 1 billion transatlantic venture capital firm. He has been a VC investor for over twenty years, investing in transformative startups in Europe and the United States. In September 2013, PJ received the “Investor of the Year” award at the Investor All Stars gala in London, one of the most prestigious awards in the European venture capital community. He primarily invests disruptive businesses in consumer internet, media, and fintech spaces. His current investments and board directorships include Spotify, Widespace, Bloglovin, Qapital, Play Dots, SourcePoint, Cryex, SoundtrackYourBrand, and Jukely. Over the years, he has also invested in Avito (Europe’s second largest VC-backed exit), Pricerunner, Jasper, Videoplaza, and many others. PJ established Northzone’s New York office in 2013. In a previous life, he was touring rock & roll guitarist.
Vice President, Norwest Venture Partners
Lisa focuses on early to late stage venture investments across a wide range of sectors at Norwest Venture Partners, with an emphasis on consumer Internet. She is a board observer at Jet and StellaService, and was involved with Norwest’s investments in Ritual, Minted and Opendoor.
Before joining the Norwest team, Lisa worked in Amazon.com’s Worldwide Corporate Development team. In this role, she identified and evaluated acquisition targets and strategic investments for Amazon and provided strategies for potential expansion. Prior to Amazon, Lisa worked at Bessemer Venture Partners, where she originated and conducted due diligence on early to growth stage investment opportunities, including several top eCommerce, SaaS, consumer Internet, and healthcare IT companies. Earlier, Lisa founded BANZAI! Fresh, a small business providing high-quality, nutritious foods to schools and hospitals in Northern California. Lisa began her career in the investment banking group at Merrill Lynch.
Lisa holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a double major in marketing and entrepreneurial management. While at Wharton, Lisa won first place at the International Venture Capital Investment Competition. Lisa also holds a bachelor of science, with honors, in business administration from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor of arts in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley.
Vice President, GGV Capital
Robin Li is a vice president in GGV Capital’s Silicon Valley office. She focuses on investments in ecommerce and consumer internet. She is a member of the board of directors for Lively and is actively involved with Boxed, Bustle, musical.ly, OfferUp, Poshmark, Prynt, Xiaohongshu, Wish, and more.
Prior to joining GGV, Robin worked at Flextronics' Venture Arm covering hardware and technology investments and at Qiming's Beijing office. Before venture capital, she spent three years at Teach For America as a teacher and administrator.
Robin holds an M.B.A from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, an M.S. from Hunter College in Education and Special Education, and a B.A. from Rutgers University in Art History and Economics.
Moderator: Ed Zimmerman
Chair, Tech Group, Lowenstein Sandler LLP
Ed is a lawyer representing tech startups, growth companies and the venture capital and growth equity funds that back them. He co-founded and Chairs the Tech Group at Lowenstein Sandler LLP, where he’s worked since he was a summer associate in 1991. In 2013, Dow Jones ranked Lowenstein among the five most active law firms in America for venture capital and private equity deals. As an angel investor, Ed has personally invested in more than 80 startups and more than 30 venture funds. He’s been an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business since 2005, where he teaches Venture Capital and Angel Investing. Ed co-founded and chairs VentureCrush, which also includes FirstGrowthVC (which Pando Daily called “New York’s best Accelerator”). Ed has published approximately 100 columns on tech startups and growth companies (and sometimes wine and music), mostly on the Accelerators page of the Wall Street Journal, where he currently serves as a WSJ Expert Panelist. Ed worked harvest (briefly) in France and California, and had minor involvement in vinifying a wine granted a perfect 100 point score by Robert Parker.
Afternoon Panel: A Return to Fundamentals: The State of the VC Industry Post-Unicorn Euphoria
Are we headed into an era of more disciplined valuations, or will that change? Which mega-trends are rising in 2017 and why?
The euphoria that characterized the past few years in the VC market appeared to wane in 2016. Global fundraising has been falling y-o-y with some unicorns experiencing difficulty in raising up-rounds while valuations in the early-stage market have returned to more rational levels. With VC investors now flush with cash (dry powder in excess of $100b globally) in a more favorable valuation environment, 2017 is expected to be a robust year of activity with new trends. Emerging breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and cryptocurrency are occurring. Record breaking M&A and a resurgent tech IPO market are bringing a renewed optimism to the VC industry. Meanwhile, companies that demonstrate more disciplined and sustainable growth are starting to command more premium valuations.
Ryan Armbrust '05 (CC)
Managing Director, ff Venture Capital
Ryan Armbrust is a Managing Director at ff Venture Capital. In this role he focuses on investment opportunities across a range of emerging industries, including UAVs, machine learning, and broader consumer technologies. Ryan has experience providing targeted growth guidance to ffVC investments including Plated, GoSkip, Wade & Wendy, Adcade, and Top Flight Technologies.
Prior to joining ffVC, Ryan spent seven years at Columbia Technology Ventures, where he commercialized the early-stage technology developed within the research labs of Columbia University. Working with inventors and technologies in areas from computer science and machine learning to architecture and 3D printing, Columbia is where he developed an aptitude for approaching investment decisions through an academic, analytical lens. Ryan continues to broaden his relationships with the communities of Columbia University and greater New York City, having served on the board of the Columbia Venture Community.
Ryan holds a B.A. in American Studies from Columbia University.
Laura Sachar '91
Founder and Managing Partner, StarVest Partners
Laura Sachar is a Founder and Managing Partner of StarVest Partners, a New York City based venture capital firm founded in 1998. StarVest invests in technology-enabled business services companies with a focus on software-as-a-service, ecommerce and internet marketing. StarVest was an early investor in the software-as-a-service trend: in 2000, it invested as the only venture firm in NetSuite (NYSE: N and subsequently acq. Oracle for $9.3 billion). Other noteworthy investments include MessageOne, acquired by Dell Computer; Connected, acquired by Iron Mountain; iCrossing acquired by Hearst; Insurance.com acquired by QuinStreet; and Fieldglass acquired by Madison Dearborn and subsequently by SAP for $1 billion.
Laura is an experienced entrepreneur and private equity investor. She has founded three successful entities, was an early identifier of the growth in digital media and has invested for over a decade in technology-enabled business services companies. As a founding partner of StarVest, she has been active with StarVest’s investments in Connected Corporation, MessageOne, Newgistics, iCrossing and Fieldglass. Laura currently serves on the boards of Veracode, Vyze, Persado, RetailNext and Switchfly.
Prior to founding StarVest, Laura was responsible for direct private equity investments at Gabelli Securities where she sourced digital media investments in Multex Systems (subsequently NASDAQ-listed and acquired by Thompson Reuters) and the first institutional round of Digital River (NASDAQ:DRIV). In the early 1990’s, Laura identified digital media as a growth area and founded Sachar Capital, which sourced Redgate Software, founded by Ted Leonsis, (merged into AOL in 1994) as an investment opportunity for its Advisory Counsel.
Laura was the Founding Chairman of the New York New Media Association Angel Investors Program, a professional nonprofit organization in which she assisted hundreds of early-stage New York area companies in accessing initial capital.
Laura has a BA from Barnard College, Columbia University, and an MBA from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business. Laura is a former member of the Young President’s Organization and a current member of the World President’s Organization. She is a Private Women's Investor Network (PEWIN) Steering Committee Member. She has a Professioal Director Certification with the American College of Corporate Directors.
Managing Partner, Peak Ventures
A repeat entrepreneur, most recently Sid cofounded Zinch, an ed-tech company connecting students globally with opportunities in higher education, and led the company through concept, venture capital, international expansion, acquisition (Chegg, Inc.) and IPO (CHGG, NYSE). For more than a decade he has assembled winning teams, specializing in building the sales force, and has created tremendous customer and shareholder value, while persevering to success. Sid was a walk-on basketball player at the University of Utah, where he studied for a year, and later received his Bachelor of Science degree from Brigham Young University; he enjoys engaging with and giving back to students from the "U" and the "Y.”
Founding Partner, Bloomberg Beta
Karin Klein leads east coast investing activities for Bloomberg Beta, an early-stage VC that invests in startups making work better, with a focus on machine intelligence. She was on the Techweek100, Silicon Alley 100, Crain’s Women to Watch in New York Tech, and New York Business Journal’s “Women of Influence.”
Karin currently serves on the board of directors for Paramount Group (NYSE: PGRE), Harvey Mudd College, TechCrunch's Crunchies, and L’Oreal’s Women in Digital. She also enjoys volunteering as a mentor with TechStars and the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Prior to launching Bloomberg Beta, she led new initiatives at Bloomberg and led Softbank’s venture fund team that reviewed all new investments. While at Softbank, Karin sourced and served on the board of Buddy Media prior to its acquisition by Salesforce. She first developed her passion for building businesses when she co-founded an educational training company for children.
Karin has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is a summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the Annenberg School of Communications and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
Group Managing Director and Senior Vice President, Time Warner Investments
Allison runs and is Group Managing Director & Senior Vice President of Time Warner Investments, where she is focused on equity investments in companies that directly enhance Time Warner's ability to meet specific strategic goals, including the delivery of new services, enhancement of an existing product, entry or expansion into a key strategic market, completion of a strategic partnership, and critical research and development. Prior to joining Time Warner in July 2001, Allison was an Associate at Groupe Arnault, investing in and managing new media and technology equity investments for the private holding company of the Chairman of LVMH. Previously, she worked in the Global Media Group, Investment Banking at Morgan Stanley.
Allison serves as a director or active observer on the boards of several companies including Amino, Bustle, Discord, Dynamic Signal, Fuse Media, iStreamPlanet, Joyus, Mashable, Outpost Games, Trion Worlds, and YieldMo. Allison co-founded the NYPEN Women’s Forum and is a mentor for Techstars NYC and the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator.
Allison graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Economics, with concentrations in Finance and Operations & Information Management.
Moderator: Andrea Turner Moffitt '07
Co-Founder, Plum Alley Investments
Andrea Turner Moffitt is a thought leader on women investors. Her recent book Harness the Power of the Purse: Winning Women Investors is the culmination of nearly three years of research across six countries in partnership with think tank the Center for Talent Innovation where she serves as a Senior Advisor. Turner Moffitt’s research unpacks insights into women as investors including demand around aligning their values and their investments. Her work has been featured in the Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Inc., Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, among other media outlets.
Turner Moffitt is the co-founder of Plum Alley Investments, a private investment platform committed to increasing the base of capital for gender diverse teams while creating a powerful and engaging experience for a broader base of investors. With a diverse group of members spanning Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Fortune 500 companies, philanthropy and other sectors, Plum Alley Investments curates investing and innovation experiences for women and men with a focus on purpose driven, early-stage companies. As a former investment banker and hedge fund analyst, Turner Moffitt has extensive investing background across various asset classes.
An honors graduate from Columbia Business School and the School of International and Public Affairs, she earned her BA from Tulane University. Turner Moffitt is the Co-chair of Columbia Business School's Social Enterprise Alumni Circle and is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She lives in Brooklyn Heights with her husband and two young children.