Paul Holland says there comes a time when you have to decide whether you want to continue as a practitioner or become a teacher.
Holland, 59, is putting all his energies into the latter.
After serving as a general partner at Foundation Capital for nearly two decades, the longtime VC has announced that he’s officially joining Mach49 as managing director and VC-in-residence.
Holland remains active managing investments at Foundation Capital, but was not listed as a GP when the firm raised $350 million for its ninth fund in September 2019.
At Mach49, where Holland has served as an advisor, he will join his wife, Linda Yates, founder and CEO of Mach49, who launched the organization in 2014.
Mach49—which operates out of Redwood City, California, and has hubs worldwide, including Boston, Chicago, London and Singapore—helps corporates with starting venture-related activities. This could include assembling an investment team, honing a focus for a corporate venture fund or starting an incubator to work with startups.
Yates has experience working with large companies, having previously co-founded and served as CEO of international consulting firm Strategos and was head of the San Francisco office of the consulting group Mac Group / Gemini. (The name Mach49 was created as a play on Mach 33, which is the speed of “escape velocity.”)
As for Holland, his past investments at Foundation Capital include Chegg, MobileIron, Coverity and Skycure, among others.
Y Combinator for corporates
Holland describes mach49 as a “Y Combinator for Fortune 1000 companies,” as it helps large companies to innovate and think differently.
Among the corporate venture arms that Mach49 advised prior to its launch was JetBlue Technology Ventures led by Bonny Simi.
Simi tells Venture Capital Journal that she personally knows Yates and Holland and they were the first people she called in 2015 when she was looking to launch the venture arm off of the airline’s balance sheet.
“They were a great sounding board,” she says.
Holland says now it is the right time for him to join Mach49 fulltime since he had been winding down his activities at Foundation Capital and because the corporate VC landscape has expanded in recent years with new fund formations.
Also, as PitchBook reports, CVCs have evolved into more sophisticated investors over the years, partaking in some of the most high-profile deals with the loftiest valuations, driven in large measure by SoftBank.
We’re “seeing increasing demand from global businesses looking to get more growth from venturing,” Holland says.
CB Insights reports there are more than 750 CVCs making venture-type investments and Holland estimates there could be as many as 5,000 corporations in the world that could take advantage of Mach49’s consulting services.
To be clear, other consultancies help corporates with venture investing, including McKinsey & Co. Also, World Innovation Lab in Palo Alto works with a number of Japanese companies to innovate and invest.
Holland says one way Mach49 differentiates itself is with its advisory network and with its ties to the venture community. The firm works with VC veterans, who Holland describes as transitioning into the next stage of their careers.
One of those is Pete Moran, who was previously a general partner with DCM Ventures for 21 years. After teaching for a couple of years and spending his time angel investing, Moran began serving as an advisor with Mach49, and he has supported two Mach49 clients: Hypertherm in New Hampshire and TDK in San Jose, California.
Moran tells VCJ that he advised them on what directions they should go into for VC.
As for what type of advice Moran provides, he noted that in venture capital, decisions have to be made often more rapidly than normally seen inside corporate buildings. “The venture teams are looking to invest millions of dollars, so they have to change how decisions are made, and some companies are not used to that,” said Moran, who also helps broker meetings with the CVCs and VCs and others in the ecosystem.
Holland, who produced the documentary “Something Ventured” about the early days of venture capital in Silicon Valley, says that one of the aspects of Mach49 that most attracts him is that it gives him an opportunity to work side-by-side with clients.
“I partner with them to ensure their startup investments and partnerships thrive,” he says.