Rick joined NEA in 2007 and now heads the firm’s technology investing practice, focusing on fintech and consumer investments. In addition to holding board positions at several NEA portfolio companies, he also serves on the boards of the Stanford Department of Athletics’ investment fund and the Stanford Engineering Venture Fund. He is an All Raise VC Champion and a mentor for BLCK VC. Prior to joining NEA, Rick worked at Credit Suisse. He earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University, where he was also a varsity swimmer.
You head up NEA’s Technology team. What excites you about this sector?
Technology is culture, and culture is driven by technology. I believe this has only become more and more true throughout my career. This means that the brave and ambitious founders and teams we work with can make an outsized impact on the world! What’s more exciting than that?
What qualities should a founder look for in an investor?
Accessibility, truth seeking, and value alignment. You want an investor who will tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly at the level that you need to hear it. While there may be ups, downs, and differences in opinions along the way, you want to be able to trust that whatever advice or support is given is in service of the company.
You’re one of the most tenured employees at NEA. What’s kept you here for the past 16 years?
I was lucky to find a place that so closely aligned with my values so early in my career. I thrive in a collaborative team environment. I love working with teammates who approach things differently and have completely opposite strengths or weaknesses than me. Our approach of partnering alongside founders and companies has also always resonated deeply with me.
What’s a quote that you find inspirational?
I have a framed poster of a quote from Anna Wintour’s MasterClass hanging in the office: “You are nothing without your team.” This is such a simple but powerful reminder every day—not only for us at NEA but for all of the founders and companies we work with, too.
You’re involved in several nonprofits that promote diversity and representation. Why are these initiatives important to you?
I work with Gold House, BLCK VC and All Raise. My parents immigrated here to the United States, and I’m constantly filled with gratitude by the opportunities that my family and I have had along the way. I enjoy doing what I can to make sure that these opportunities are more accessible to more people.
You were a swimmer while at Stanford. How did that experience shape you?
I was recruited to a number of colleges as a competitive swimmer, but I chose to walk on to the Stanford swim team. There, I was surrounded by teammates who were much more talented than me—world record holders, Olympic medalists, etc. Being able to train with them, and supporting and being supported by them, really shaped my view on building teams and surrounding myself with people much smarter than me.
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