MENLO PARK, Calif. – ONSET Ventures in early October promoted Susan Mason to general partner and managing director of the firm’s most recent vehicle, the $280 million ONSET IV, which closed in February, said Terry Opdendyk, the firm’s founding general partner. The firm backs early-stage communications, information technology and medical companies in business-to-business markets. Mason becomes ONSET’s fourth general partner.
“Susan’s work with entrepreneurs to build and create companies is representative of the core principles of ONSET. This is the biggest reason why she is now a general partner,” Opdendyk said. “This promotion recognizes her competency as a venture capitalist, her ability to coach companies and be a superb board member, as well as her really being a partner to the other members of the firm.”
Opdendyk said Mason’s day-to-day responsibilities will not change as a result of her promotion. “Susan has been the head of our practice in the communications space and that will not change,” he said. However, in addition to her daily workload, Mason will now take a larger role in the overall management of the firm, which will be a fundamental change in her responsibilities, he added.
Mason joined ONSET in 1996 as a Kauffman Fellow, a program sponsored by the Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. The two-year program promotes entrepreneurship, by placing fellows with VC firms, so they can learn from experienced VCs and entrepreneurs. “I was not sure I wanted to stay in VC, so this gave me a chance to enter the business and experience it, but provided me with an exit if I wanted to leave.” Mason decided to stay at ONSET as a partner at the end of her fellowship, because she had enjoyed her time at the firm. “I like early stage investing…and helping an entrepreneur build a company combined really well with my background in operations,” she explained. In her four years with the firm, she has been involved with eight investments and currently sits on the board of directors for five of those companies.
Prior to becoming a Kauffman fellow, Mason operated her own consulting company, Information Architects, which she founded in 1989. For seven years, the consulting firm helped Fortune 1000 companies build start-up ventures outside their walls and then spin the companies back into their businesses. “It was a lot like being a VC,” she noted.
The firm’s latest vehicle, ONSET invested in seven portfolio companies to date, Opdendyk said. The vehicle’s average deal size is expected to be about $10 million, he added, noting the fund will likely amass a portfolio of approximately 20 to 22 companies.