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Power to the Drivers

I’m a Californian through and through.

I’d categorize myself as a diehard Niners and Warriors fan. My family is big into sports and we often head out on Sundays to tailgate and catch a game.

I was born in Mountain View, not far from CRV’s Palo Alto offices, and grew up in Fremont over in the East Bay.

Not surprisingly, tech is in my DNA.

My dad’s first job was as a chip designer at Western Digital. He’s an electrical engineer by trade and did venture investing at Lightspeed for a bit.

My older brother is in VC as well and my mom even got into day trading early on.

Prior to joining CRV I spent nearly five years at Battery Ventures and before that I worked at Oracle and Barclays. Earlier in my career I saw investing through a more transactional lens. Working with founders meant they needed something from me and I, of course, needed something from them. I spent a lot of time figuring out how to make that “work.”

Nothing beats being on site with my companies and seeing them take center stage. This pic was taken in Manchester, England at a recent employee all hands at Matillion, one of my portfolio companies. I had the honor of speaking on a panel with the CEO, Matthew Scullion (standing) and other board members.

As I gained more experience and worked with more teams, I realized something. I had forgotten about the human part of the equation. We’re all just people, founders and investors included, who want to do well, succeed and figure things out together.

It’s easy to be an investor when the market is good and the business is soaring, but what entrepreneurs really ought to seek out is a partner who’s going to be there when things get tough… and they will get tough, they do for every company at some point.

A “sunny” day in Illinois. No temperature is too cold for baseball.

Being a Californian from a tech oriented family, everyone thought it was a given I’d graduate high school and go into tech, but I chose pre-med instead.

I moved away to study at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, but was drawn back to California because of its raw natural beauty as a state, its density of bright intellects and the warm weather.

Side Note: One of my eye opening Midwest moments involved walking home from a late October football game in flip flops.

It was during that trek that I quickly concluded that California cold is definitely not the same as prairie state cold.

Math was always my strong suit, but biology classes were the most interesting to me. Surgery and being hands on was thrilling to me, but at times I came to feel the field was more about memorization and book smarts rather than about being hands on and application based. As I pondered what to do next, it dawned on me that what I enjoyed the most had been in front of me all along.

Many of my childhood memories involve looking under the hood of computers. Ripping out the guts, figuring out how and why they worked, replacing parts and building components for them. In many ways, I gravitated to a surgery of a different sort.

In Jakarta, where my mom grew up, touring a chip factory with my older brother, dad and mom. My style has evolved a bit, but my interest in all things tech is still rock solid.

At the ripe old age of eight I recall family chats about getting the best CPUs and graphics cards to install in our desktops. Tech genuinely fascinated me. I got involved in online forums for Dragon Ball Z and worked with the site admins to learn how to code the backends of websites. In the end I swapped pre-med for economics and dove back into the California tech scene I grew up in.

For me, watching sports is a great escape. You put the worries in your life on the sidelines and enjoy the pressure of a close game. It’s all about someone else’s play, how they perform and move up the rankings.

That being said, I also enjoy playing sports. Basketball and football are great athletic workouts, but they’re also wonderful ways to build camaraderie since you have to work together to get to a common goal. I grew up spending time on the tennis court, golf range, basketball court and the football field, so attending a big college replete with competitive D1 sports teams was definitely a draw for me.

With both tennis and golf, the pressure is on you. You can’t rely on anyone else to be great, you have to be great yourself.

In golf, a good driver is a part of your tool kit that helps you be at one with your game. It gets you to rip shots off the tee and enables you to hit the ball further. If the driver and the golfer are perfectly matched, it's a domino effect that sets off a chain of great events. Hitting a big drive early on isn’t just fun and thrilling, it actually makes the rest of your golf game easier. There are times when you’re alone out there and your game might be off, but you have to work through it and figure it out.

Not every VC invests in being a support system for their founders, but they should …and it's something I try to be for my entrepreneurs.

As an early stage investor, no problem is too minute, too silly or too small. I enjoy guiding the leaders I work with through gritty problems like compliance and security as they grow, but I’ll also be there when you need something small because if it’s annoying or bothering you, well then, it's my bugbear too.

In my mind, investing is about so much more than number crunching. You have to cultivate trust and be a sounding board for your founders.

When you’re trying to understand where your product fits in and what your ideal customer might be, that’s a pain point I love noodling with entrepreneurs on because there’s a sense of urgency in solving those kinds of problems. I enjoy helping founders figure out how to position their product and enjoy slipping on the customers’ shoes, delving into the product market spaces and really understanding the pain those customers feel.

Focus and fun is what Team CRV is all about!

You want someone in your corner who is focused, keeping an eye out for your happiness, even when you’re squished as a CEO juggling appeasing your board while also trying to keep your team excited.

Focus is a big part of what made me want to join CRV. It’s a small nimble team devoted to early stage businesses where you get great visibility and never feel like you’re part of a big machine.

Being a great Series A company is a different ballgame than being a wonderful pre-IPO business. The success drivers are very different at each stage of the company building journey.

My domain expertise is predominantly in infrastructure software - including data, devops, machine learning (ML) and security. I’m captivated by technology that powers an increasing amount of the things that everybody on earth interacts with on a daily, hourly or even a minute-by-minute basis.

Even though infrastructure software can’t be touched or felt, if that part of the software stack goes down, then whole applications fall apart. No matter where everyday consumer trends take us over the next decades, infrastructure software will remain mission critical.

The urgent nature of this software, coupled with the ever increasing amount of the world’s data, leaves an incredible opportunity for companies. Entrepreneurs of the future will build robust, data-driven applications leveraging a full range of analytical capabilities from backwards-looking business intelligence through modern data products to forward-looking predictions through machine learning and I look forward to partnering with them on their journeys.