A conversation with Sarah Cannon and Imprint Goldberg, Index Ventures’ contemporary companions


Index Ventures — a company with investments in corporations cherish most recent IPO Dropbox, a series of winning gaming corporations cherish King, and others including Slack and coming IPO Zuora — has considered fairly loads of moves in the past few months.

There was once the departure of companion Ilya Fushman earlier this year, nonetheless the company additionally resulted in Sarah Cannon from CapitalG as one amongst their most recent mountainous hires. Index has additionally promoted passe Dropboxer Imprint Goldberg to companion. Old to becoming a member of Index, Cannon led investments in corporations cherish Looker, MultiPlan, Oscar and Care.com. Cannon will essentially be specializing in enhance stage, and is additionally now a board observer for Slack. Goldberg has been on the company for round three years and labored on offers cherish Nova Credit and CoverWallet.

We sat down with the two contemporary companions to chat a few few of their plans, besides a couple broader parts of the enterprise ecosystem. Here’s the interview, which has been evenly edited for readability.

TC: What does the investment committee decision direction of glimpse cherish for the time being?

Imprint Goldberg: In the last stage, we occupy a companion presentation, where the entrepreneur gifts and we debrief. Then it’s a vote on the companion degree. All people votes 1-10, and if it’s over 7 it’s licensed. If it’s between 5 and 7, it’s the sponsor discretion. On moderate it’s round in the seven vary. Some companions repeatedly defective decrease, their most eager is at eight. It finally ends up being a ravishing intellectually correct dialogue, every vote is the identical. I’ve labored at various funds earlier than, and it appears to be like cherish  it becomes more of horse procuring and selling. This feels cherish a optimistic debate, we operate as one crew. It’s additionally 6:30 a.m. pacific on Mondays, so there’s that.

TC: When working with entrepreneurs, how enact you withhold them bright forward — in particular when some appear allergic to product modifications?

Goldberg: I impart more to my background to being an early industry hire at Dropbox, alternatively it’s staying targeted don the pause particular person and building something of us no doubt favor to make exhaust of. Regardless the paradigm, [we ask], are you building a product where on the pause of the day is the pause customer contented particular person.

Sarah Cannon: So great of your perform in the board for the particular particular person choices is focal level. My perform is no longer making choices nonetheless focusing, realistically, and amybe sharing an example from one other company you recognize. The finest device there’s connecting them to a peep. We were merchants in Lyft and Stripe, and fairly loads of discovering out would possibly possibly well be between those corporations. We would suppose, let me join you to the head of product at Lyft. After that coffee, the priorities had been lowered to appropriate a few.

TC: What’s the filter for companies?

Goldberg: First off, the [series] A is where we’re no doubt targeted. I mediate historically Index had no doubt built a imprint in Europe. King, SuperCell, Skype, and others. After we area up the crew in the U.S., we ended up getting pushed into more series B. We would occupy cherished to peep the Series A on fairly loads of those corporations, nonetheless we were contemporary it was once more tough to proactively compile to these substantial offers on the earlier stage. So we’re pushing earlier into that Series A. Per chance 7 of the last 10 offers had been [series] A for us. The anguish is, how enact we procure these substantial founding teams and class winners at that stage. Despite the valuations, we need you to hit those test containers.

Cannon: As you transfer later stage, it’s a long way more on the unit economics. That’s piece one — no doubt idea the unit economics, how mountainous of a industry can this no doubt be. The market would possibly possibly well be no doubt substantial, nonetheless what’s the scale of the prize. These are the two things I focus on. It’s easy to glimpse on the unit economics. There are exceptions to the guideline, cherish Amazon, where the margins didn’t glimpse accurate alongside the vogue… Traditionally these corporations haven’t made money, and that’s how you omit no doubt outstanding businesses. They’re transformative businesses. That’s no doubt how I’ve shifted my device of thinking.

For particular person corporations, I take into consideration that has to be broad particular person traction and in case you’re seeing wild adoption or a differentiated know-how.

TC: How enact you have confidence you studied referring to the convey of how we focus on mental well being in Silicon Valley correct now? How enact you relieve your founders in this recognize?

Goldberg: I mediate being a founder is a very lonely job. I mediate one amongst the things that a ambitious enterprise companion can enact is be a extraordinarily accurate sounding board. The emotional fluctuations in these businesses are rude. A founder has to be, even in the occasion that they’re resilient and occupy fairly loads of grit, they’re fully going to feel the highs and lows. Even as you focus on what makes a enterprise fund and companion treasured, it’s the capacity to damper a few of that volatility by being on hand. If somebody calls me on a Saturday night, i’m selecting up the phone and being level to and having that viewpoint. Even as you’re doing this job well, that you just would possibly possibly well possibly relieve the entrepreneur feel less lonely.

Cannon: [Part of it is] regulating on each the highs and the lows. You’ve had the preferrred thing about working with fairly loads of corporations. Which you can well possibly suppose, here’s a substantial moment, occupy an even time, alternatively it’s no longer cherish we’re going public day after nowadays. In the lows, you remind them of the accurate times, you’re modulating to the center and giving some viewpoint.. It’s indispensable to step in as an investor, and to negate, ‘okay, this was once a scary moment nonetheless here is why I occupy conviction for your industry.’

It’s a topic topic that’s fairly loads of shame. It’s very great cherish an artist, there’s a particular person genius creator nonetheless there’s a downhearted facet. There’s a truly identified viewpoint in the founder world. I’m hoping we occupy a few courageous founders who come out and suppose, glimpse, I no doubt struggled, here’s how I managed to take care of it.

TC: How occupy things changed given the shift in the enterprise landscape, such as with mega-funds cherish Softbank?

Goldberg: We stare it as an accurate thing, for us it’s additional optionality for fairly loads of our portfolio corporations. Sooner than SoftBank fairly loads of times your option is [just going public]. Softbank is no longer the preferrred one, there’s Sequoia enhance, there’s fairly loads of cash sloshing around the late stage. It’s been a boon for our corporations — we’re assuredly playing at a stage earlier than we’d be competitive [with that].

Cannon: For the later stage, it’s fully altering the return profile. To Softbank’s credit rating, it’s a vivid strategy, it’s cherish an index on the non-public markets.

TC: How enact you differentiate between founders for companies you make investments in?

Cannon: For me, the adjustment [to earlier stage] has been a couple things, cherish adjusting your chance reward. You’re taking lots increased chance. It’s more uncomplicated to rely on cohort recordsdata, thinking that I’ve considered this for 3 years. [At earlier stages] it’s less recordsdata, and also you’re taking more chance, that you just would possibly possibly well must exercise more time about alive to by the crew. Which you can occupy to take into consideration that founder is able to bringing on that top quality crew. To transfer earlier stage, it be indispensable to occupy a long way more conviction. In later stages that you just would possibly possibly well desire a bunch of merchants already on the cap table.

Goldberg: I mediate it’s fully excessive that the market is multistage. We’re stage agnostic and trip pushed. We’ll stare a company on the series A or series B, and we compile to know the founding crew. We don’t watch for the round to make, we preempt it, and if we don’t enact the deal we occupy a relationship going forward.

Cannon: [I also think it’s] very bid to the industry. If it’s an IT infrastructure startup, the particular person needs to be extremely technical of us. It maps to the industry. Stay they know their possess strengths and weaknesses, enact they know the strengths and weaknesses of their existing participants.

TC: How enact you have confidence you studied about diversity going forward?

Cannon: Essentially the most indispensable focal level is how enact I address this anguish. The numbers impart for themselves by device of diversity of all kinds. Quite loads of founders aren’t contented with where they are, we mediate about what specifically can we enact about it. That’s where we’ve been having fairly loads of discussions — how are you giving ravishing opinions, how enact you develop definite your compensation is the identical. There’s repeatedly the question about funnel and the device in which enact I stare various candidates. My seek on that is we can occupy to restful enact a significantly better job in enterprise and corporations in screening for the categorical attributes you’d like in the job. We favor to push of us, in predicament of going to pools which would possibly possibly well be easy, such as appropriate to banking, and suppose the attributes indispensable to an investor is high emotional intelligence, analytical thinking, and such. They don’t basically come from the identical of us.

Goldberg: What’s changed is it is miles now a board-degree conversation. On the last four-5 conferences, here is now a topic topic on par with the KPIs of the industry. That didn’t primitive to exist. I have faith the tactical aspects, we can enact a better job with diversity, we’re having those conversations..

TC: What about capabilities of solutions cherish the Rooney Rule?

Cannon: I mediate that’s precisely the tactical thing. Of us are appropriate begging for a belief, something I will commit to altering my funnel. Altering my direction of to be more ravishing, founders I mediate are very more originate to it.

TC: How enact you area up expectations alongside with your detrimental of LPs, in particular as the time threshold between an IPO and the founding stretches? 

Goldberg: I mediate we’re lucky that as a fund tradition and with the LP detrimental, we’re afforded the capacity to develop a lengthy whisk seek. While the timeline is stretching, we don’t feel stress. To the extent the corporations proceed to save price, the returns are gonna glimpse accurate enough. We occupy no longer felt the urgency to are trying to predicament positive aspects faster, and piece of that is our broader philosophy and ethos round investing. We’re here to toughen the entrepreneurs, and I don’t favor to be prescriptive in an exit.

I mediate we favor to be thoughtful after we shield shut a secondary investment. Doing substantial secondaries in early corporations is seemingly to be detrimental. After we’re taking a glimpse at rounds where secondaries are on hand we ask about proceeds being dispensed, we favor to know [if it’s just certain executives or for the whole team].

Cannon: You enact favor to mediate referring to the staff who occupy made indispensable contributions. In a market where corporations are staying non-public great longer, for the staff, I enact need us to hunt down a capacity to occupy some liquidity. Essentially the most indispensable’s how you structure it. Which you can well possibly secure a apartment, nonetheless you don’t desire a mansion.

Goldberg: What I don’t cherish is when founders or a secure out area of executives are ready to shield shut money. As lengthy as it’s equitably performed in a capacity, cherish 10% to 15% liquidity being equipped for physique of workers.

TC: What are some learnings you’ve picked up from what’s occurring in China?

Cannon: We’re no longer currently investing in China, nonetheless I need to be taught make China and stare what insights we can compile from businesses there and the device in which they are going to be various in the US. Even as you glimpse at stay video, lots fo corporations occupy taken off there. The social e-commerce industry, mid-messaging, how does that vary with transactions.

Goldberg: On the fintech facet, it’s nearly cherish the field has inverted, I primitive to enact fairly loads of cleantech where we were worried China would reproduction the IP. In fintech, basically the most modern corporations are coming out of China. Even as you glimpse at digital payments in China versus the west, they were already device ahead of the curve, and now it’s a long way more so. It no doubt is, for us, about discovering out what’s around the future. We’re pushing ourselves.

TC: The majority of that is owned by a few platforms cherish WeChat or Alipay. Is that an accurate thing?

Goldberg: These forms of platforms are becoming monolithic conglomerates at this level. My broader thesis in this level is, we’re gonna stare a recent area of corporations and winners from the last few years which would possibly possibly well be gonna re-bundle the comfort of the characteristic filthy rich corporations into increased platforms. They’re building broad particular person bases with rude engagements. You focus on what else are you able to corrupt-sell whereas that you just would possibly possibly well need that engagement and imprint affinity. We’re gonna stare broad class winners of the next digital financial institution in the US.

TC: How are you alive to by ICOs?

Goldberg: We’re watching them opportunistically. I mediate crypto and blockchain occupy gotten a colossal quantity of airtime in the click, to me it’s distracting for financial companies and products. The incumbents are fully vulnerable in a capacity they’ve never been earlier than. We’re seeing pleasurable success..

Cannon: We’re very trip pushed. The 2 areas are no doubt round blockchain and AI. We appropriate had a presentation we name Monday musings — we’ve had them on gaming, bitcoin, and crypto assuredly — that’s an plan where we’re actively looking to save our recordsdata area. I mediate there’s fairly loads of interest and the timing is of piquant debate.

With out a doubt one of many challenges is to be an efficient unit of business transaction, to know your customer, and as lengthy as that you just would possibly possibly well need nation states it’s going to be laborious to occupy a quantity of transactions on blockchain. I don’t mediate Facebook is going to give up on regulatory protections. You’re gonna must transfer your bitcoin into pounds or some various currency at some level.

Goldberg: I occupy had a anguish to hunt down a [high-potential] Dapp. (Dapp is short for decentralized app)

TC: Where are you discovering these contemporary areas of talent?

Goldberg: I haven’t found a magic bullet. It’s an aggressive push to prevail in a various area of channels of sourcing.

Cannon: [Companies have big pools of strong candidates], the anguish early stage is it’s more tough to hunt down out about those corporations. On the beginning it’s laborious in case you aren’t in addition networked. What’s a perform that a substantial company has a mountainous pool, how can they relieve them join. I mediate about how to enact that in a scalable device. The innovation that Google no doubt did occupy is doing interviews. Rather than announcing we’re gonna compile of us from top colleges, we’re gonna occupy a test that tests for the engineering abilities for this job. While that you just would possibly possibly well possibly point out that you just would possibly possibly well need these bid abilities, I mediate that’s a substantial device. You compile of us that occupy the skillsets.

TC: What are you procuring for in startups that suppose they specifically focus on machine discovering out?

Sarah: The vogue I regarded as investing in AI is three buckets. One was once on the generalized AI, and what would change a human. That’s fairly loads of science and fairly loads of chance in the very early stage. The 2nd bucket is vertical AI, and the 1/3 in heath care is how would you analyze claims recordsdata. Google and Facebook can afford to hire recordsdata scientists of fantastic caliber, nonetheless most corporations can’t.

On the vertical facet, fairly loads of is is tech constraints. I’d cherish to compile into contracts, nonetheless [you have to] mediate about what’s seemingly — what that you just would possibly possibly well possibly enact with a camera, where we’re with machine vision and the capabilities of that with a straight away industry context. [We look at] how many engineers and knowledge scientists that you just would possibly possibly well need, what are the pause 5 capabilities of your know-how. You’ll in a short time procure they’re doing something that would possibly possibly well be automated mercurial.

Goldberg: 99% of the pitches that I hear all over industries focus on machine lerning. It’s become so ubiquitous as it’s nearly meaningless, or it’s as horizontal as mountainous recordsdata. What I glimpse for is proprietary recordsdata. What is on the total excessive is it’s no longer appropriate algorithms nonetheless your capacity to prepare a mannequin faster than somebody else and in a capacity that’s more unfamiliar. Which you can have compile admission to to a couple recordsdata pool, and the data is in a roundabout device what units it apart. For the overwhelming majority, it’s a buzzword that they mediate will develop the valuation. A methodology to check that is to glimpse on the technical DNA in the crew. To me that’s fairly loads of suss out is that this no doubt machine discovering out, or is that this empty words on a page.

TC: What are the verticals you focus on correct now?

Goldberg: There are broad segments of the economic system coming online correct now. Agriculture, construction, logistics, we glimpse at where the data has been locked up in offline make cherish on paper or excel. As software program brings it online, fairly loads of those industries are ripe for machine discovering out.

Cannon: [For me], the two I’m most attracted to are healthcare and financial companies and products. It’s about having a proprietary recordsdata area nonetheless additionally pleasurable dollar savings. You is seemingly to be doing a bunch of analytics, alternatively it’s gonna be very laborious to persuade companies. A healthcare startup that can persuade [a hospital that it can] place you cherish $1 million a patient, that’s when of us are altering their procuring habits. There’s additionally fraud, I’ve considered fairly loads of corporations that can secure up insider procuring and selling at banks. These are pleasurable savings on the dollar and regulatory and compliance facet.

TC: What signals are you procuring for in particular person startups?

Cannon: I repeatedly mediate likelihood favors the entertaining mind. I enact favor to enact thesis work in particular person, and mediate about areas where I stare patterns. When I stare the monthly filled with life users recordsdata, [I ask], does it conform to the field. Millenials occupy contrarian thinking, one thing that stood out when the Robinhood founders impart, was once that millenials didn’t favor to pay an upfront price. I shock if there are numerous items they’re resistant to. Per chance they don’t favor to be monetized by adverts, and are there businesses that would possibly possibly well evolve per that seek.

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