“Founders of great companies must overcome moments of extreme adversity that no one can anticipate. I’ve seen this first-hand, multiple times, in my own businesses. With the right advice and support, founding teams can learn to navigate these challenges, survive them, and triumph.”
I started my career in journalism, a field where you never stop learning, questioning, and searching for the kernel of a story. This turned out to be great preparation for the entrepreneurial phase of my career because successful founders also have to attack the root of a problem or the core of an opportunity until they crack it open. At the same time, when you’re at the center of a storm – one that finds you, or perhaps even one of your own creation – there’s a tendency to get tunnel vision. I learned to rely on seasoned advisors who could remind me of the bigger picture and maintain the right perspective. Now I get to do that for other founders in my role at General Catalyst, where I focus on investments in internet software, services, and infrastructure, for companies that have unlimited potential for market disruption from new technologies, innovative business models and exceptional execution.
Perhaps unlikely for what I do today, I was an Emmy Award-winning television news producer early in my professional career. After more than a decade in television news with CBS in New York City, I joined Time Warner and became an intrapreneur, co-founding three businesses. The first was NY1, a 24-hour cable news network, and later Roadrunner, the world’s first consumer broadband service, and Pathfinder, one of the first web properties that pioneered internet advertising. These experiences helped lead me to Akamai Technologies (NASDAQ: AKAM) as employee #15 and the journey from a pre-revenue start-up to an S&P 500 company with more than $2 billion in annual revenue today. There I had the privilege of serving as CEO, after being COO and president, and I’m still a board member. I also serve as Lead Director of VMware (NYSE: VMW).
Prior to joining the General Catalyst investment team, I was non-executive Chairman of two of the firm’s portfolio companies, Datto (acquired by Vista Equity Partners) and L2 (acquired by Gartner). Earlier in my career, I served as a director of iRobot (NASDAQ: IRBT), and as a board member of Digitas, Dow Jones & Company, EMC and Maven Networks before they were acquired.
I graduated from Northwestern University, where I’m now a life trustee. As a passionate advocate for high-quality journalism and public education, I serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors of ProPublica, which practices investigative journalism in the public interest, and as Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
When I want to get away from thinking about new technology, I find time to read a wide range of fiction, from classic Russian novels to sci-fi, or you might find me biking along a country road, training for an annual ride with my grown children in the Pan-Mass Challenge across Massachusetts to raise money to fight cancer.