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A New Beginning…

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  • January 12, 2016

Dear friends and colleagues,

The passage from one year to the next has always inspired gratitude in me—perhaps because at a time of transition, one can fully appreciate the blessings of the journey so far, while eagerly anticipating what lies ahead.

As some of you know, this New Year marked a particularly significant milestone for me. A decade ago, on January 1, 2006, I joined NEA as a General Partner. After 10 years, five funds, nearly four dozen investments, and more blessings than I can count, I have decided to step down from my role as a GP. I will spend 2016 transitioning my responsibilities to my partners here at NEA.

I want to express my thanks to the partners, colleagues, and friends who have made my time at NEA an extraordinary experience. The core values I’ve tried to embody throughout my career—especially integrity, authenticity, and intellectual honesty—are deeply rooted in this partnership and have come to define, for me, what it means to be a good partner and a good mentor. Nowhere have I encountered more like-minded individuals than within NEA and across the portfolio I’ve built over the last 10 years.

My 26-year association with NEA began with the firm’s legendary founder Dick Kramlich, current Managing General Partner Scott Sandell, and some outstanding companies in the firm’s 1990s-era portfolio. Dick served on the boards of Silicon Graphics, Inc. and Healtheon/WebMD during my tenure at those companies. Several years later I got to know Scott, who served on the board of Neoteris while I was CEO until the company’s acquisition by NetScreen in 2003. And when Juniper Networks acquired NetScreen the following year, I was appointed EVP/GM for the Security Products Group just as Dick was going off the company’s board.

So it probably surprised no one when I joined the ranks of NEA’s GP group a short time later. I continued to learn a great deal from Dick and Scott, and others including Chuck Newhall, Peter Barris, Peter Morris, Mark Perry, Forest Baskett and Jim Barrett. It’s been an honor to work alongside each of those talented investors, and in recent years it has been my privilege to recruit and mentor many of the firm’s younger partners and associates.

I am profoundly grateful to the entrepreneurs who have chosen me as their partner in developing disruptive technologies, pioneering new business models, and building great companies. Among them are publicly traded Aerohive Networks and Box; more than a dozen acquired companies including The Climate Corporation (Monsanto), Vuclip (PCCW), PortAuthority (Websense), and Braintree (PayPal), and an outstanding group of current portfolio companies including GumGum, Metromile, Pluribus, Cohere Technologies, Cyence, Levant Power, SpringPath, Niara, Velocloud and Robinhood. I’m proud to have partnered with each of these entrepreneurs and hope to collaborate with many in the future.

My career thus far has been a series of zigs and zags—some deliberate, some accidental, but almost all fortuitous. I have been an entrepreneur and an investor, and am equally passionate about both. At times I have felt like a big fish swimming in a small pond, at other times more like a salmon swimming upstream—both gave me what I needed to grow at different points in my career.

I am proud of what we have accomplished during my time at NEA. Only a handful of firms can successfully deploy anywhere close to the dollars NEA invests out of a single fund today, and I’ve enjoyed both the challenges and rewards associated with helping our business scale across stage, sector and geography.

Yet I am ready to begin a new chapter in my career—one that will no doubt include some familiar themes, but the story will be mine to write. This too will come as no surprise to many.

Looking back today, I feel very fortunate to have been an active participant in a 25-year period of creative destruction spanning two startups and a decade with NEA—it’s quite a reel, but my movie is far from done. As the well known Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan says in the movie Om Shanti Om, “Picture Abhi Baaki Hai Mere Dost!” (There’s more to this movie!)

The best is yet to come! Stay tuned… for now, I seek your friendship, support, and blessing!

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