Madison Faulkner


Madison joined NEA in 2024 as a Principal on the technology team focused on early-stage data, infrastructure, developer tools, data science, and AI/ML. Previously, she was a Vice President at Costanoa Ventures where she worked closely with,,, (acq by Confluent),, and others. Prior to investing, Madison was Head of Data Science and Machine Learning at Thrasio, Head of Data Science at Greycroft, and held several data science positions at Facebook. Madison received a BS in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University.

How have your operational roles served you as an investor?

People may not understand the transition from data and AI leader to investor, but it has felt quite inherent to me. I previously led data science and machine learning teams at Facebook and various startups where I partnered closely with engineers to incubate projects, leverage the latest AI research, prioritize stakeholder requirements and balance infrastructure needs against products. Now, I’m able to do the same thing across multiple companies—with added empathy and an eye to the technical details.

How do you empathize with a founder?

I spent years tackling difficult and ambiguous machine learning problems from scratch. I know how to take a new domain and break it into milestones, research projects,  and engineering tasks to get from zero to production. I also know how many difficult challenges arise along the way—such as educating stakeholders or buyers, navigating the politics of automation, capturing and using quality data, and navigating developer GTM. I especially empathize with technical founders because I've been in similar positions and experienced the challenges coupled with the excitement and magic of deploying value-additive AI.

How would you describe the team at NEA? What qualities/values does the team share?

Having witnessed the evolution of venture for years at Stanford and through many roles in the industry, I believe that NEA is an incredibly unique firm and I am honored to work with such talented colleagues who bring a team-oriented, collaborative approach to a field that struggles with individualism and competition. Everyone on the team is passionate about moving fast, empowering founders, and creating collective value. They bring humility, integrity and respect to the process every single day.

What’s a philosophy that guides your approach to investing?

Coming from a data science and machine learning background, I look at every deal through the lens of my Head of Data and AI peers. Building and deploying AI products is still an uphill battle and there are many problems with the existing infrastructure stack. I strive to elevate the perspectives of my peers and use capital allocation as one of many tools to enable market expansion and more efficient innovation in AI.

In what ways would you like to see the venture industry evolve in the future?

I have experienced venture from the seat of an investor, an operator, and a researcher. I'd like to see the composition of investors move closer toward the diverse population of entrepreneurs and buyers that make up the ecosystem. Venture is a business where success is defined by identifying outliers— which requires diversity of opinion, experience, and background. Coming into this field as a technical operator, my personal thesis rests on the value of my unique lens that strays from the normal investment process of evaluating quantitative metrics.

Share a story from growing up that’s shaped who you are today.

I grew up in Colorado performing in rodeos and being a professional cliff diver. I've always believed it's important to live a wildly adventurous life and to challenge yourself. My exposure to diverse perspectives and communities gave me an empathy for unique opinions and the confidence to try new things without fear.

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