Ann is a Partner at NEA, where she focuses on early-stage investing in consumer technology and AI application software and marketplaces. Prior to NEA, Ann was Chief Operating Officer of Rival (acquired by Live Nation) and held business leadership roles at Uber and Twitter during their growth phase. As an operator, she has seen Silicon Valley startups through each phase of the company-building lifecycle, from first launch to IPO. Ann holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a BS from UC Berkeley.
You’ve held operational positions at numerous startups over the course of your career. How have those roles shaped your current role as an investor?
I spent 12 years building venture-backed startups in Silicon Valley. Company-building is a craft, and I’ve picked up valuable operating playbooks along the way: from building and scaling high-performing teams to leadership and people management to negotiating high stakes deals and crisis management. I tap into that experience to provide founders with practical guidance when needed. I’ve seen plenty of hardship and failures too—so above all, my own nonlinear journey has given me a tremendous empathy and knowledge of what founders and their teams go through.
What matters most in the process of building a company?
The people. We tend to think product first in tech, but products don’t build themselves, people build them! I believe the most important thing in any company is to build an exceptional, highly motivated team—then scale it and create a culture that sustains it over time. Talent is both the foundation and a competitive advantage in tech.
How should a founder think about the relationship they’ll have with their investors?
It’s a relationship that can last for a decade or more, so it’s essential to have trust and camaraderie. Seek out investors who uplift you with encouragement and useful advice but are also honest brokers who will tell you what you need to hear along the way. Hype can fade, but productive relationships can last a lifetime.
What do you most appreciate about NEA’s ethos as a firm?
As a team, we believe deeply in healthy, collaborative partnerships with entrepreneurs and investing in relationships over the long haul. We’re not just founder-friendly on day one. We strive to show up for founders and their teams consistently over the course of their journey—through the many twists and turns of company-building.
I strongly believe that…
Entrepreneurship is the ultimate expression of vision, creativity, grit, leadership, and relentless pursuit of excellence. The future belongs to builders and optimists.
What’s a formative experience that’s shaped who you are today?
There are certain life experiences that forge character, and for me that was growing up in an immigrant family, where I had to figure many things out on my own. I received my US citizenship at 21 while at UC Berkeley. I moved around a lot as a kid, but I had the benefit of a strong education and a sense of agency, so anything felt possible. The immigrant experience gave me limitless optimism, drive, adaptability, and lifelong commitment to paying it forward to others.
“We’re not just founder-friendly on day one. We strive to show up for founders and their teams consistently over the course of their journey—through the many twists and turns of company-building.”
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