People change jobs and earn promotions constantly in the venture business. So here’s a list of of our top 10 stories covering various people moves from the venture community in 2021.
Real estate tech investor Fifth Wall wants to decarbonize the built world, and has already raised $300 million for its climate tech fund. As such, the firm announced in September that it hired Peter Gajdoš as a partner to co-lead its climate team with Greg Smithies. Gajdoš has a long history in climate investing, beginning in 2005 with JPMorgan. Gajdoš then led the VC and growth fund in Richard Branson’s Virgin Green Fund and later joined Presidio Partners, where he focused on climate and biotech. Before Fifth Wall, he headed venture capital at IPM Group.
In February, Venture Capital Journal got the scoop that Sara Nayeem, a partner with New Enterprise Associates, was moving on from the firm she joined 12 years earlier. Her new gig was under wraps, but in an email she shared with her network that she would help launch a new biopharma venture fund for a hedge fund. A couple of weeks later, it was revealed that Nayeem joined Avoro Ventures, an affiliated company of Avoro Capital Advisors, as a partner.
European investor Dawn Capital named Evgenia Plotnikova to general partner in September, making her the firm’s first female GP. Prior to joining Dawn in 2018, Plotnikova was at Atomic and before that was at TPG, the San Francisco private equity giant. Plotnikova, who invests in B2B companies across Europe, said she wishes the B2B space was more diverse but hopes that as firms like Dawn continue to support female GPs, the industry will see more gains in diversity.
Runway Growth Capital in May lured early-stage venture investor Shayna Modarresi to join the venture debt lender as a managing director, a sign of how hot the debt market has become amid the pandemic. Modarresi joined Runway after having founded Lodestar Ventures, a San Francisco-based seed-stage firm. At Runway, she focuses on investments in the West Coast tech sector.
Newark, New Jersey-born Vaughn Crowe is no stranger to Newark Venture Partners. He was instrumental in the launch of the firm, founded in 2016, and has served as adviser. In February, the seed-stage firm officially added him to the roster, naming him as a fulltime managing partner. He told VCJ he wants to do more for the Newark community, including the Boys & Girls Club. The firm commits a portion of its carried interest from its current fund to the nonprofit.
Relay Ventures’ efforts to establish a diverse and inclusive investing team saw the firm announce several promotions and a new hire, as it doubled the number of managing partners to four. The moves earlier this year came nearly five years after the firm raised C$200 million ($150 million) for Relay Ventures III, which is earmarked for early-stage deals in Canada and the US.
We first met Priya Saiprasad in early 2019 when she joined Mayfield after nearly three years at M12, Microsoft’s Venture Fund. She cropped up on our radar again in June 2021 when she joined SoftBank Investment Advisers to serve as a partner on the firm’s $30 billion second Vision Fund. Throughout 2021, the Vision Fund would make a number of other moves in a push to hire more female investors. Saiprasad’s move to Vision Fund 2 came less than four months after SoftBank brought on board Saiprasad’s former colleague at M12, Nagraj Kashyap, who joined SoftBank Investment Advisers as a managing partner in February.
In September, a trio of well-known investors – Bijan Sabet at Spark Capital, Jeremy Liew at Lightspeed Venture Partners and Roger Ehrenberg at IA Ventures – separately announced in the span of a week of one another that they are retiring from their firms. The venture community on Twitter then pondered what the three VCs will do next and what the changing of the guard means for the future of venture capital. VCJ repeated some of the tweets.
In early 2021, cybersecurity investor ForgePoint Capital promoted Will Lin to managing partner. We detailed how the young investor had a rapid rise at the partnership from associate to vice-president to principal and then to managing partner. Also, he is married to Priya Saiprasad of SoftBank (see #4 above), so that’s a powerful venture capital household.
This story ran in late November, and it quickly shot up to not only appear in the top 10, but it ranks as our top-most clicked-on people move of 2021. No doubt, readers were interested to learn what compelled the longtime LP to joins the team of an emerging manager partnership. During his 10 years at Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Richard Lam led investments in venture and growth equity funds worldwide before becoming a GP at San Francisco-based early-stage firm Race Capital.