For a very long time, the venture industry was stubbornly resistant to change. The same people sat back in their chairs on Sand Hill Road while nervous founders made the rounds, hoping one of these firms would champion their cause.
No longer. Since roughly the advent of Y Combinator, the landscape has seemed to shift by the year, with more startups raising capital every year, more people becoming VCs, more Medium posts, more newsletters, more events, more great founders, more bad behavior, more congestion, and more money from all over the world finding its way to Silicon Valley and a growing number of smaller but fast-growing hubs.
How to make sense of it all? At Disrupt, we do our best to answer that question by sitting down each year with top venture capitalists who tell us what they are seeing. In 2015, for example, we talked with VCs about why you can start, but not always scale, a company from anywhere. In 2016, the discussion turned to why VCs were gathering up so much capital when the IPO market was (at the time) all but closed to new tech issuers. In 2017, we examined how then-new U.S. President Donald Trump might impact the venture and startup industry. By last year, we were talking about Softbank, mega rounds, and whether Silicon Valley is losing its gravitational pull.
This year, we’re again going to be taking stock of what trends have so far defined 2019, and what may be around the corner, and we’re thrilled to announce the VCs who will help us to answer some of these questions: Ann Miura-Ko, a cofounder of the seed- and early-stage venture firm Floodgate, and Theresia Gouw, a cofounder of the early-stage venture firm Aspect Ventures.
Both of these longtime investors bring a lot of deep insights to any venture discussion. Miura-Ko has been in the industry since before the last major tech boom, starting in the late ’90s. Then a McKinsey analyst who was focused on wireless technologies, she went on to become an analyst at the venture firm CRV before cofounding with partner Mike Maples the venture firm Floodgate in 2008. Since joining forces, Floodgate has backed a long list of powerful companies, including Twitch, Sonos, Chegg, AdRoll, BazaarVoice, and Lyft, where Miura-Ko remains on the board of directors. She has seen plenty of ups and downs, within both Floodgate’s portfolio and the broader startup industry.
Gouw, meanwhile, also has a perspective on the industry that many newer investors don’t enjoy, having worked as a VP at a Bay Area startup during the dot.com run-up, then joining the venture firm Accel in 1999, just a year before the industry imploded. It could have been a short-lived stint. Instead, she helping the firm sift through the wreckage and right itself before leaving in 2014 to start her own firm — Aspect — with partner and former DFJ partner Jennifer Fonstad. Since then, the firm has backed a wide variety of companies, from The RealReal to Exabeam, HotelTonight to Forescout. Put another way, Gouw also knows what the deal is.
We can’t wait to sit down with both of these top investors to talk about the trends shaping the industry right now, from the growing secondary market to IPO trends, from what excites them the most to what their biggest concerns are for their firms and their portfolio companies as we sail toward 2020.
It’s a conversation you will not want to miss if you want a better understanding of what’s happening on the ground right now. Join us at Disrupt SF, which runs October 2 to 4 at the Moscone Center. Tickets are available here.