Scott Sandell

Scott Sandell

Executive Chairman & Chief Investment Officer

Scott is Executive Chairman and Chief Investment Officer of NEA. He previously held the role of CEO, and prior to that, of Managing General Partner. Since joining the firm in 1996, Scott has led investments in a wide range of technology companies and has played a role in many industry-transforming businesses, including Bloom Energy, Cloudflare, Robinhood, Salesforce, Tableau, and Workday. Outside of NEA, Scott is actively involved with the National Venture Capital Association and is a founding director of the organization’s nonprofit, Venture Forward. He is also an Adjunct Lecturer at Stanford, where he teaches a course on principled entrepreneurship.

Which part of your personality best serves you as an investor?

My patience. It takes time for great things to develop. I believe in looking at opportunities with a long-term perspective and giving them time to become large and enduring. Patience is an essential component of this philosophy. 

What matters most in the process of building a company

Three things rise to the top for me. First, clarity of thinking. Having a clear purpose ensures you stay the course and guides critical decision-making. Second, putting the company ahead of personal agenda. What’s in the best interest of your company won’t always be in line with what’s in the best interest of your ego, but you have to prioritize the business. And third, drive and perseverance. The journey will be anything but smooth, and you have to have the stamina to move through the bumps.

What’s one question every founder should ask a potential investor?

What will you do if we miss our plan or experience a setback? And whatever the response, they should cross-check it with founders who have worked with that investor. I think it’s incredibly important for a founder to understand how a potential investor reacts to bad news.

What’s your answer to that question?

We understand well that building a business almost always involves setbacks so we’re not taken by surprise when they happen. But when challenges do emerge, our inclination is to roll up our sleeves and help, rather than be critical. And we usually come out together in a better place than where we started.

You started at NEA as an Associate in 1996, now you’re the firm's CEO. What’s driven your loyalty?

The culture here is deeply aligned with my personal values. We share a commitment to doing the right thing—for each other and our founders. We aren’t a collective of individual egos—instead we operate as one team, and we’re much stronger for it. There’s an intrinsic understanding here—that trust and commitment to our relationships are of the utmost importance. I feel immensely privileged to work alongside people who embody these values and to be able to call them my partners.

What do you attribute NEA’s longevity to?

New Enterprise Associates was chosen as our name to emphasize the importance of team—not any specific individuals. We’ve never been about just one or two superstar investors—that’s not sustainable because the flame dies out when they leave. Instead, we believe scale is the key to longevity. Our scale allows us to give more people the opportunity to have a hand in the craft. This culture of mentorship is what has made us multigenerational because we’re always cultivating the next generation of investors.

What keeps you grounded?

My regular failures as an investor, and my children.

When challenges do emerge, our inclination is to roll up our sleeves and help, rather than be critical. And we usually come out together in a better place than where we started.

Scott Sandell, Executive Chairman & Chief Investment Officer