On Alignment

Thanks for joining me! I’m a venture capitalist who has been investing in early-stage technology companies for over 20 years. I’ve also been a founder or key member of leadership teams for three startups and a mentor to hundreds of entrepreneurs and technology businesses.

Over time, as I’ve developed my own point of view on how venture capital works and why young companies succeed or fail, I’ve come to see that my perspective is, well, different from many others in my field. 

I didn’t really expect to be such a contrarian. There’s so much that I admire in the startup world. And yet, in this high-stakes venture game there’s also a great deal of hype, misinformation, and fear. Sometimes a lens on the data can clear things up. That seems especially true at this moment, when almost two-thirds of all venture money is being invested into rounds of $50 million or more while median exit values still hover around $80 million.

I’ve shared some of my views in articles and interviews for TechCrunch and other publications, podcasts like Venture Confidential, and other venues. From the response to those articles, and from many conversations with founders, LPs (limited partners, who are the investors in the venture funds themselves), and other VCs over the years, I’ve heard a lot of requests for a fuller articulation of this contrarian, data-driven viewpoint. (They usually sound something like this: “Dammit, Jodi, why the hell aren’t you writing about this!?!”)

I believe that the interests of founders and investors can and should be aligned.

My perspective on entrepreneurship and the best role for venture capital in early-stage companies is shaped primarily by three things: 

  1. Growing up in a family of incorrigible entrepreneurs and experiencing the highs and lows as a founder myself, all of which leave me with enormous respect for the treacherous, exhilarating, slightly insane process of starting and growing a business;
  2. A philosophical desire to create win-win outcomes wherever feasible — which is possible more often than people realize. This is probably not unrelated to point (1) and the awe I have for the entrepreneurial journey; and
  3. A bit of self-awareness (gained, as these things always are, through time and through mistakes) about what I’m good at, what I’m bad at, and how I can help entrepreneurs the most. 

These experiences and ways of thinking led me to co-found the venture firm Aligned Partners with my partner Susan Mason in 2011. Our core approach has been to align our interests with founders to help them build high-growth businesses that deliver value to customers, investors, employees, and the founders themselves. The key element that enables this approach — our secret sauce, so to speak — is capital efficiency.

I’m calling this blog Alignment in honor of my venture firm and a philosophy that guides my work with founders and LP investors alike. In the posts to come, I’ll cover a variety of topics on entrepreneurship, venture capital, and startup life — always from the perspective of someone who cares about alignment and win-win outcomes.