Blog

  • Pandemic Pressures on Corporate Innovation

    A few days before California mandated a lockdown, I was meeting with a corporate innovation team who had travelled from the Mid-West. We sat comfortably together in a closed-door conference room, anticipating in-person meetings in the not-too-distant future, yet jokingly expressed concern about shaking hands. This would be my last in-person meeting in 2020 and in the days that followed, businesses nationwide shifted entire work forces to work from home. Priorities were rapidly reassessed, and…

  • The Investor’s Dilemma: What Matters Most?

    People often ask VCs: What is the most important thing to look for in new investments? It’s a simple enough question, but the answer is actually pretty complicated. We look for disruption, and we look for impact. We look for teams and companies that are solving problems and challenging the status quo. More than anything, we look for the right people—for entrepreneurs who have a certain spark about them. Very rarely, the stars align so that all of those factors—the team, technology, and market…

  • When and How to Make Your First Product Hire

    I get one question from founders all the time: When is it time to make my first product hire? Normally a startup founder is a visionary who is deeply involved in the product experience. She is the person closest to the problem the startup is trying to solve and intimately familiar with what needs to be built. But eventually, that’s too much for one person to manage alone. I joined Airbnb as the first product manager (PM) when the company was 35 employees. The eighth engineer joined the same…

  • How Hiring Entrepreneurs Enabled Airbnb’s Success (and Launched a New Generation of Founders)

    When I left Airbnb last year, I was delighted to join a group as dynamic as the company itself: the Airbnb alumni. And I’ve been intrigued, though not surprised, to learn how many of those bright and creative professionals are developing their own startup concepts. After all, our time at the company trained us to do just that. Employees of one great company seeding the next generation of startups is the circle of life in Silicon Valley. It started with Fairchild Semiconductor in the 1960s,…

  • Fishing Scheme: Artificial Intelligence for an Authentic Solution

    At NEA, we are constantly on the lookout for talented entrepreneurs, and unique applications of innovative technologies. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to find both in the same place—as we did with Bryton Shang and Aquabyte. Today, we are thrilled to announce our investment in Aquabyte, a startup applying computer vision and machine learning models to optimize fish farming efficiency. My partner Greg Papadopoulos and I are leading this investment on behalf of NEA. Having a primary focus…