For the vast majority of Earth’s existence, our planet functioned as the quintessential circular system. The Sun’s energy nourished trees into life, and once they fell, microorganisms broke them down into soil and nutrients, fuelling the next generation of growth. The notion of ‘waste’ did not exist—everything had a use.
It is only in the past few hundred years that humans have interrupted this cycle. With the rise of the Industrial Age came a linear economy built around the consumption of natural resources.Energy was turned into goods and products that we used—and then threw away.
This sliver of Earth’s history improved the lives of billions of people, but it came at a tremendous cost to the planet’s future. At our current pace, humanity needs 1.75 Earths to sustain our consumption of natural resources. We have been running a resource deficit since the 1970s that accelerates every year according to the Global Footprint Network, and by 2050, humanity will generate 3.5 Gt of solid waste annually1.
To protect our planet while continuing to Excellerate lives, we need to decouple economic growth from the consumption and disposal of finite resources. That is the core premise of the circular economy, which aims to minimize waste and maximize reuse of existing materials.
The circular economy also offers a critical pathway to mitigate climate change, because recycled and reused resources have lower carbon footprints. For example, improving the circulation and reuse of uncontaminated steel would avoid 500 Mt of new steel production by 2050, saving more than 1 billion tonnes of carbon emissions per year2.
Fortunately, the opportunity is as vast as the need. By making the most of our finite resources, we can not only thrive within planetary boundaries, but we can also generate an estimated US$4.5 trillion3 in new economic output by 2030 and support efforts to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across the economy.
Google is committed to accelerating the transition to a circular economy in which business creates environmental, economic and community value through the maximum reuse of finite resources. To help inspire others toward a similar goal, we are sharing some of the lessons we have learned from our circularity programme—and the challenges that remain.
Since our founding, Google has made it a core value to operate our business in an environmentally sustainable way. In 2007, we became the first major company to be carbon neutral for our operations. As of 2022, oursustainability programme takes a comprehensive view across carbon, water, ecology and circularity. We aim to achieve net-zero emissions across all of our operations and value chain—including our consumer hardware products—by 2030, to replenish 120% of the water we consume by the same year, and to become a circular Google within this more sustainable world.
Our approach to circularity is anchored around three core principles:
1. Design-out waste and pollution. This means designing for circularity from the start, enabling existing products to become future resources.
2. Keep products and materials in use. This means extending the effective life of products or materials as long as is safely possible, to make the most of all the resources that went into their creation.
3. Promote safe and healthy materials. This means designing products with materials that are safe for both people and the planet, recognizing that these materials will be used and reused long into the future.
These foundations are embedded into all aspects of our business operations, from the data centres we operate to the campuses we build, the products we create, the suppliers we work with, and the culture we encourage. The following section describes some of the progress we have made in each of these areas.
Google owns and operates 23 global data centres filled with servers and other equipment that provide reliable service to the billions of people who use our products every day. Our circularity goal for these centres is to achieve ‘zero waste’, defined as minimizing waste generation and maximizing the reuse of products and materials as much as possible while diverting 90% or more of solid waste from landfills.
As of 2022, seven of our 23 data centres have met this zero waste to landfill target and we are continuously making investments to advance waste diversion and recycling across our operations (Fig. 1). Additionally, since 2015, 32.6 million hardware components have been resold into the secondary market, and in 2021, 27% of upgrade components were from refurbished inventory4,5.
Our approach to data-centre circularity starts with identifying the life-cycle stage of data-centre components. From there we apply several circularity strategies:
• Maintain. Whenever possible, we repair components to extend the life of servers.
• Refurbish. When a server or equipment is decommissioned, we create an inventory of usable, refurbished components that are stored for future reuse.
• Reuse. Any excess components are resold on the secondary market, following a rigorous security process.
• Recycle. Components that cannot be reused or resold are sent to an electronics waste-recycling partner.
Proof point: European data centre in Denmark.One of our latest European data centres, located in the Danish town of Fredericia, achieved zero-waste to landfill from day one—and continues to make important progress. Site management is working with a waste partner to recycle additional material that is otherwise sent to waste-to-energy recovery. This has required close partnership with staff and our vendors to find innovative solutions for waste collection and separation.
Google has offices in over 180 cities spanning nearly 60 countries. We take a holistic approach to circularity in our offices and campuses, which starts by designing buildings with healthy materials and continues with reducing food and plastic waste in our workspaces. Our three key areas of office circularity are:
• Food waste. Our food programme aims to reduce waste through composting, donation and tracking use to right-size orders. We recently announced a goal of sending zero food waste to landfills—and cutting food waste in half for each Google employee—by 2025. We also use behavioural nudges that encourage Googlers to take only the food they will eat. For example, by reducing the depth of our cafeteria bowls by an inch, we found that Googlers took smaller portion sizes, which reduced leftover plate waste by 30–50% (ref. 6).
• Plastics waste. We work to reduce single-use plastics and other plastic waste through a series of interventions, including procurement, operational changes and workspace design. These efforts include eliminating the purchase of single-use plastics wherever possible and making reusable drinking options (like our sustainable hydration stations) easy to use in our micro-kitchens.
• Building and construction materials. In developing our office spaces, we promote circularity through a number of practices, including procuring salvaged and reused materials in construction projects, designing our facilities to enable zero-waste operations, and setting ambitious waste- diversion targets to keep material out of landfills. For example, since 2012, we have had a robust salvage programme, working with non-profits to find new homes for usable building components such as doors, plumbing fixtures and tiles.
Proof point: Bay View and Charleston East campuses. Our new Bay View and Charleston East campuses mark significant steps forward for our circularity programme (Fig. 2). At both locations, we vetted thousands of building materials against the Living Building Challenge (LBC) Red List to eliminate ‘worst in class’ materials and chemicals with the goal of creating a safer, more circular environment. Both campuses incorporated salvaged materials into the building design, and both aim to reduce future renovation waste through highly flexible and reconfigurable work areas. At Charleston East, in particular, more than 22,000 imperial tons of construction waste had been diverted as of October 2021, and 530,000 pounds of drywall waste was recycled as part of a closed-loop wallboard initiative. With these efforts, Charleston East is set to be one of the largest projects ever to attain an LBC Materials Petal certification for healthy building materials.
Millions of people use Google products like Pixel, Nest, Home and Fitbit every day, making these products a circularity priority area. Our product circularity approach involves several strategies:
• Using recycled materials. We are committed to using recycled or renewable content in at least 50% of plastic across the product portfolio by 2025, prioritizing recycled plastic wherever possible. For example, the Nest Audio enclosure—which is composed of fabric, housing, a foot and a few smaller parts—is made from 70% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic. Our materials scientists and design engineers developed a custom PCR plastic in partnership with our suppliers, and we work closely with them to expand the market for recycled materials, including those we develop specifically for our products.
• Practicing circular design. We focus on material reuse and extending the useful life of our products as part of the fundamental design process. For example, we have a goal of making all packaging plastic- free and 100% recyclable by 2025. We also provide a number of repair options, such as making a full range of spare parts for Pixel 2 through Pixel 6 Pro products, including batteries, replacement displays and cameras, and we will provide at least five years of security updates for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, as well as future Pixel phones, from the date we start selling them on the US Google Store. Additionally, for Google Nest, we issue critical bug fixes and patches for at least five years after launch.
• Eliminating waste. We are committed to achieving Underwriters Laboratory (UL) 2799 Zero Waste to Landfill certification at all final assembly manufacturing sites by 2022. We are also reducing packaging waste from our suppliers when they ship parts to our manufacturing sites. Additionally, for consumers, we are developing tools and programmes to help people properly recycle electronic goods. For example, we recently made it easier for people to find out where they can recycle or dispose of electronic goods using Google Maps and Search. And we continue to research and pilot new ways for customers to recycle e-waste, including through a doorstep- recycling pilot programme in Denver, Colorado.
• Promoting safer chemistry. We strive to select materials to use in our products that have a chemical composition that is safe for both people and the planet—both now and far into the future. For example, we make our restricted substances specification publicly available while also aiming to use safer flame retardants and eliminate antimicrobials across all of our products by 2023.
Proof point: recycled aluminium.
As part of our work toward a more circular Google, we developed a 100% recycled aluminium alloy to meet our Google Pixel performance standards, validated by a third-party certifier (Fig. 3). The Pixel 5 was our first phone to incorporate this recycled aluminium, which not only eliminates the use of mined aluminium in the enclosure and reduces waste but also lowers the carbon footprint of manufacturing the enclosure by 35% (based on a third-party- Tested life-cycle assessment) compared to using virgin aluminium. At the time of writing, the aluminium inside the back housing of the Pixel 5, 6 and 6 Pro is made with 100% recycled content. We also want other companies to benefit from our work and for other manufacturers to use this alloy in their products. That is why we require our suppliers to make this alloy available to manufacturers across the electronics industry.
For more information about our sustainability claims, please visit https://store.google.com/magazine/sustainability.
Even as we work to build a more circular Google, we recognize that realizing a circular economy will take everyone’s participation. To support broader adoption of core circularity practices, we are building tools and partnerships that enable and empower others to reduce waste and reuse materials. A few notable efforts are as follows:
• Enabling better recycling. We have now made it easier for people to find out where they can recycle electronics, batteries, glass bottles, clothing and other goods using Google Maps and Search. Local merchants and shops can show the recycling services they offer, and more people can find these options just by searching something like “battery recycling near me” (Fig. 4). People can also suggest edits to the available recycling options at a location, helping others in their community find the right place for them.
• Helping officials cut plastic pollution. Every year, rivers carry millions of tonnes of plastic into oceans. We partnered with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to develop a new machine-learning model that shows a highly accurate view of plastic pollution, with a launch demo focused on the Mekong River in Thailand. This open-source model empowers local government to take action and scale new solutions.
• Facilitating household circularity. We have empowered people to take action on circularity in their everyday lives with our interactive tool, Your Plan, Your Planet. The tool features lessons on extending the life of household goods, along with a teachers’ companion guide for schools. It also includes tips around water conservation, energy savings and more.
While the circular economy is critical from a global resource perspective, it is also essential to addressing climate change. Simply put, the world cannot achieve a net-zero carbon-emissions target without the circular economy.
Global greenhouse gas emissions are expected to reach 51 Gt by 2050 (ref. 7). About 45% of that comes from ‘embodied’ emissions, or carbon generated from the production of new buildings, cars, clothing, food and other common goods or products. The circular economy has a key role in stopping the disposal of embodied carbon en route to a net-zero world. Every piece of waste represents a new product that will be created from scratch—and thus a missed opportunity to cut embodied emissions.
We can seize that opportunity and cut up to 10 Gt of carbon by 2050 (ref. 7) through several circular strategies described in greater detail elsewhere in this article, including:
• Deconstruction. Make better use of buildings through practices like deconstruction and reuse, low-carbon construction materials such as mass timber, and retrofitting or repurposing existing spaces.
• Circular design. Reduce the need for new products and materials by supporting longer product lifecycles, reuse programmes and recycling.
• Recycled materials. Use recycled materials to create new goods and products, as recycled resources generate significantly lower greenhouse-gas emissions than virgin resources during production.
As we build on our progress in the years to come, we see a number of exciting areas with the potential to further accelerate the transition to a circular economy.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a tool to help address challenges facing many industries, and waste is no exception. Recent estimates suggest that AI’s ability to design-out food waste can create US$127 billion in annual value by 2030, and its ability to Excellerate consumer electronics is valued at US$90 billion a year8. Our 2019 white paper identified three primary ways that AI can support circularity:
• Design circular products, components and materials. For example, AI can generate insights that help significantly shorten the design timeline of microchips, which reduces the total amount of materials needed for research and development.
• Operate circular business models. For example, our food team, in collaboration with X, Alphabet’s moonshot factory, is using AI to speed up the food-inspection process, strengthening the supply chain and reducing waste.
• Optimize circular infrastructure. For example, AI-powered computer vision can help industrial robots classify waste on assembly lines with very high accuracy, leading to better sorting at recycling facilities.
Deconstruction and reuse
Roughly 11% (ref. 9) of global emissions come from construction and the creation of new building materials—an impact that is locked-in forever and cannot be reduced through technological improvements. Commercial deconstruction and reuse practices can help address this impact by promoting the use of low-carbon materials and encouraging adaptation of commercial buildings. Our 2019 white paper identified the following areas of opportunity for deconstruction and reuse in office development:
• Design and build for circularity. Development projects can prioritize healthy materials (including mass timber where feasible), design adaptable spaces that can change without needing extensive renovations, design for disassembly to avoid demolition waste, and create a deconstruction plan from the start. Regulation has an important role to play in supporting these practices.
• Set-up salvage for success. Cities can support salvage practices by requiring salvage plans during the building permitting phase and otherwise incentivizing the practice. Buildings can develop salvage inventories from the start that can make it easier to reuse or save equipment and materials throughout the life of the space.
• Scale and diversify the deconstruction workforce. Local jurisdictions can require ‘salvage-ready’ contractors for commercial projects and should support workforce training in deconstruction as a specific growth skill.
• Strengthen the regional reuse marketplace. There are a number of ways to strengthen the reuse market and support the circular economy of commercial buildings, including setting salvage targets, embracing virtual salvage marketplaces, and requiring salvage during public project procurement.
Electronic waste (e-waste) is one of the world’s fastest growing waste streams. In 2019, only 17% of e-waste was recycled globally, according to Statistica. The rest often ends up in landfills, is improperly disposed of in the environment, or ‘hibernates’—the practice of keeping a product that is no longer in active or regular use—in our homes. This practice limits the ability to recycle usable materials and e-waste, meaning that more new resources must be consumed to create new products.
In 2021, we conducted an assessment of why consumers engage in product hibernation instead of recycling and identified the following areas of opportunity10 (it should be noted that there are usually multiple factors in a decision to hibernate a product, and that the key factors differ by product, so pursuing all of these areas is critical to maximize electronic recycling):
• Low handoff-option awareness or convenience. Consumers may lack information about proper recycling methods or facilities or find that option inconvenient. Google is working to address this problem through Maps and Search programmes (described earlier) that help identify and access local e-waste recycling options.
• Compensation expectations (financial or social). Consumers often expect compensation for their e-waste, although this exchange can be social in nature, taking the form of product donations.
• Keeping spare products. Consumers often keep old products in case they need to replace a broken one. Stronger repair programmes can help, such as our programme for the Google Pixel described earlier.
• Data retrieval and removal. Consumers often hold on to products because they lack easy or reliable ways to transfer or erase data from the devices.
• Device nostalgia. Consumers often feel an emotional attachment to their devices, which causes reluctance to part with them.
We are excited by the progress made by Google’s circularity programme to date, as well as by the opportunities on the horizon. We also recognize the many systemic challenges hindering even greater progress—some of which we identify below. Overcoming these and other barriers will be critical to realizing the circular economy as soon as possible.
Improving data availability
The circular economy aims to make the most of every resource we use. To do that requires high-quality, standardized data enabling the market to identify, manage and value all the resources available at any given time. For example, rather than seeing a piece of plastic as an item to use and discard, we should see it as bits of information that tell us how it can be reused, what it is worth in terms of recycling, and where it is needed. Such data should inform capital investments, infrastructure priorities, business plans, policy interventions and more—as such, we view data availability as a key to accelerating the transition toward the circular economy. This challenge is one we feel particularly inspired to help solve as a data company, working alongside others.
The circular economy is in a similar place to where renewable energy was a few decades ago: we knew where we needed to go but often lacked the right technologies to help companies, governments and households get there in a cost- competitive way. Innovation helped bridge that gap, with the rise of advances such as new silicon systems to capture sunlight, larger wind turbines to capture energy and longer- lasting batteries to power electric vehicles. We need similar innovation around the way products and materials are designed, manufactured, used, reused, or recycled back into the economy. We need accelerators, venture funding and other forms of support focused on turning great circularity ideas into leading technologies. We plan to leverage Google’s ingenuity, technical leadership, cultural influence and talented people to help do just that.
Embracing the future
Meeting this moment demands a spirit of exploration and discovery. In nature’s circular system, it is the novel adaptations that pave a new path. Similarly, we need innovative thinkers to inspire a shared sense of purpose around this new direction and rally collective action. For our part, we can help by connecting billions of people every day and sharing our own lessons and experiences.
The circular economy, by definition, connects everyone. It is in that spirit of cooperation that we describe the approach Google is currently taking, recognizing that we do not have all the solutions and that true progress will span the global economy. We need business leaders to partner across industries and reduce costs, governments to incentivize action and protect the public good, innovators to keep looking ahead and thinking big, and people everywhere to know that no action is too small.
Chen, D.M-C. et al. Environ. Res. Lett. 15, 074021 (2020).
Material Economics. https://materialeconomics.com/publications/the-circular-economy-a-powerful-force-for-climate-mitigation-1 (2018).
Lacy, P. et al. Waste to Wealth: The Circular Economy Advantage. Palgrave Macmillan London (2015).
Google. https://www.gstatic.com/gumdrop/sustainability/google-2019-environmental-report.pdf (2019).
Google. https://www.gstatic.com/gumdrop/sustainability/google-2022-environmental-report.pdf (2022).
Peters, A. https://www.fastcompany.com/90728148/google-says-its-reduced-food-waste-just-by-using-different-bowls (2022).
Ellen MacArthur Foundation. https://ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/articles/building-a-world-free-from-waste-and-pollution (2021).
Ellen MacArthur Foundation. https://ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/artificial-intelligence-and-the-circular-economy (2019).
Puettmann, M. et al. Sustainability. 13, 13987 (2021).
Bourne, D. et al. https://www.gstatic.com/gumdrop/sustainability/electronics-hibernation.pdf (2021).
Google Docs is an excellent tool for anyone that works with documents often. It's a word processor that resembles classic tools like Microsoft Word. Docs has become popular because of its unique features and simple user interface. Whether you use it on a computer or one of the best new Android phones, it's a great option. Plus, you can use it for free! It helps to start by looking at what Google Docs is, what it does, and how to use it.
Google Docs is a cloud-based word processor. Word processors are tools that can help you create and revise digital documents. If you're familiar with Microsoft Word, you can think of that as the original poster child for word processors. Cloud-based means that everything is stored in the Google cloud instead of on your computer.
You may have heard of Google Sheets or Google Slides. These productivity tools are similar to Excel and PowerPoint in the same way that Docs is similar to Word. There are other productivity brands, but Microsoft Office is the most recognizable. Google's analog to Office is Google Workspace. This paid service includes all of Google's productivity tools and more. You don't need to pay for Workspace to use the individual tools. Google Docs is at the top of the list for free Google software that's worth using.
Google Docs can be boiled down to a pretty simple workflow. It's best used for creating, editing, and sharing documents. Here's a brief look at the key features of this software.
Creating documents is pivotal for making the Google Docs workflow hum. Generally, Docs has a + icon in the lower-right corner that you can click at any time. Once you do, it generates a blank document for you to start on.
This document is stored in Google's servers, so it doesn't take up space on your computer. It is only accessible by you unless you choose to share it. Documents you create in Google Docs display on the main page under Recent documents. It helps to deliver documents names that you can easily recognize later.
Document editing is the bread and butter of word processors. Docs is neat because any edits you make are automatically saved. It's worth looking into the specifics of how to edit using Google Docs. If you're new to word processors, start with simple things like how to check your word count and how to adjust the margins. There are more complex features if you want to do something like use text boxes in documents or insert a personal signature. Learning a few keyboard shortcuts speeds up the editing process.
The document-sharing features in Google Docs are exceptional. Native integration with Google Drive and Gmail means sharing documents is quick and easy. You can also import Word documents and other Microsoft Word files. Docs is compatible with various file types, including DOCX, HTML, RTF, ODT, PDF, and more. No matter how you want to share your work, there's a convenient option.
You can customize sharing permissions when sharing a direct link for a Google Docs document. This involves choosing who you will share the document with and what they can do (view, comment, or edit). Once shared, you can collaborate with others on that document in real-time. These options make collaboration precise and simple.
Since this software relies on storage in Google's servers, you generally need an internet connection while working. The good news is that you can use Google Docs offline. Google has some tutorials for how to use Google Docs offline, but the gist is that you need to enable offline access in Google Drive. Before doing any offline work, you may also need to prepare and check some specific document settings in Google Docs.
Docs can add extra features, known as add-ons. Add-ons make Google Docs a versatile word processor. You can obtain hundreds of add-ons for free from the Google Workspace Marketplace. These add-on features range from simple things like adding more fonts to more complex tools. For example, the table of contents add-on is great for anyone working on longer documents with many subheadings. There are helpful add-ons available for all kinds of document work.
Using Google Docs through the web browser is a common way to get work done from anywhere. These steps outline the basics of using Google Docs on the web.
Once you've completed these steps, you're ready to move forward with document work and collaboration. The most convenient browser is usually Google Chrome, but Docs works with most browser options.
You can use Google Docs on Android or iOS as well. The Google Docs app is similar on both platforms. These steps should help you get started using the Docs app on most mobile devices.
You have now been introduced to using Google Docs on your mobile device. You're ready to get work done from your phone, no matter where you are.
Google Docs is one of the best free word processors currently available. It's great for creating, editing, and sharing documents. Add-ons only make it a more versatile tool. If your documents are littered with spreadsheets, there are great add-ons for Google Sheets. With a little help, your most productive days are just around the corner.
There’s still the free version for education, known as Google Workspace for Education Fundamentals, which offers Google’s suite of collaboration and communication tools, including Classroom, Sheets, Docs, Meet and Gmail. In addition, there’s now the Google Workplace for Education Standard upgrade, which includes a security center to mitigate threats and advanced device and app management solutions.
Another new edition, the Teaching and Learning Upgrade, adds premium engagement features to the Fundamentals version. These include breakout rooms, polls and Q&As in Google Meet, along with the ability to hold meetings with up to 250 participants. This upgrade also comes with unlimited Originality Reports, a feature that uses Google Search to help students keep their writing original and avoid plagiarism.
Finally, Google Workspace for Education Plus includes everything in the standard edition and the Teaching and Learning Upgrade with the further addition of customizable Cloud Search as well as the ability to hold meetings of up to 500 participants, sync rosters directly to Classroom and use document approvals. Core licenses with AppSheet, a no-code development platform, are included at no additional cost.
With more editions, schools have more flexibility. IT departments used to have the binary choice between paid and unpaid. Now, they can say, “Well, which cool stuff do I need? Do I need it for the teaching and learning side? Or do I want it for the management and security side of things? Do I want both? Then, I’ll level up.”
DISCOVER: Learn more about the benefits of a Google Workspace for Education audit.
Three years ago, Workspace offered Meet for online interaction and Classroom to facilitate online lectures. Now, with the Teaching and Learning Upgrade, the features have become more robust.
Through Meet, educators can leverage breakout rooms, use attendance trackers and access transcripts of each lecture. Meet also allows for more interaction with the ability to create polls, quizzes and Q&As.
Originality Reports in Classroom and Assignments are unlimited with this upgrade, and educators can use student-to-student matching to detect plagiarism within their own domain. Google has also added external livestreaming capabilities to its Workspace platform.
Google has additionally bolstered security and IT features on the administrative side of Workspace. The security center prevents threats and automates monitoring, while the security investigation tool remediates phishing, spam and other threats.
The investigation tool is a unified way to look at what’s going in within your Google environment and investigate things from a data perspective. With this tool, you can see everything going on within your domain, and you can take both individual and bulk actions on emails and files to mitigate threats, including quarantining emails and changing sharing permissions.
Google has also added the Gmail Security Sandbox, which automatically scans all email attachments to ensure they’re safe, adding an extra security layer to your environment.
IT admins can learn more and evaluate which edition is right for their district with the CDW Education experts at Amplified IT.
This article is part of the “ConnectIT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology” series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #ConnectIT hashtag.
Mozilla, publishers of Firefox, acquired the team behind AI-based workplace collaboration product Pulse, announcing that they will work on Mozilla’s growing portfolio of products.
The Pulse workplace collaboration product helped teams collaborate better by automatically managing their Slack presence, creating “focus times” that allow users to work without interruption, and display color-coded do no disturb notices when team members were in meetings.
Pulse was a product created specifically for today’s hybrid workplaces.
According to the archived Pulse page:
“Adjusts with your work hours
Pulse puts an end to the ‘Always On’ culture by helping manage your team’s expectations around your availability — so teammates know when is best to connect with you and respect your boundaries.
Pulse uses AI to automatically display when you enter a focused state so your teammates know not to disturb.
You can also set calendar rules which change your status to show you’re focusing during blocked focus time or events marked as focus.”
The announcement did not hint at the future direction the new team will take within Mozilla.
However the fact that Pulse was a workplace collaboration product is notable.
It makes for interesting speculation that the acquisition may help Mozilla to begin introducing business-oriented products.
The quality that sets Mozilla apart from other companies is their commitment to creating products that don’t spy on or turn their users into a product to resell to marketers.
Free is increasingly common. Any product that can deliver quality at a free or near-free price and also respect user privacy would be increasing their value over more established products from companies like Google or Microsoft.
Google rapidly grew their email product by offering staggering amounts of storage space for free. Mozilla is doing with privacy what Google did with free, using it as a value-add that other companies do not offer.
And that edge is what makes the Pulse acquisition interesting because their machine learning expertise can be used to build privacy-forward consumer (and maybe business) products.
The Pulse service used machine learning to help learn a user’s work patterns but in a way that respected their privacy, what Mozilla referred to as “applied ethical machine learning.”
According to Mozilla:
“Machine learning (ML) has become a powerful driver of product experience. At its best, it helps all of us to have better, richer experiences across the web.
Building ML models to drive these experiences requires data on people’s preferences, behaviors, and actions online, and that’s why Mozilla has taken a very cautious approach in applying ML in our own product experiences.
It is possible to build machine learning models that act in service of the people on the internet, transparently, respectful of privacy, and built from the start with a focus on equity and inclusion.”
The first project the team will work on is improving Mozilla’s social sharing app called, Pocket.
Pocket is an app for saving content as well as sharing it with others. The app is available on a mobile device or desktop.
The author of the Mozilla announcement is Chief Product Officer, Steve Teixeira. He was hired by Mozilla in August 2022. Steve formerly worked at Twitter as Vice President of Product for their Machine Learning and Data platforms, and before that led the infrastructure Product Management, Design and Research team at Facebook.
Mozilla Chief Product Officer, Steve Teixeira, wrote:
“I’m particularly excited to enhance our machine learning capabilities, including personalization, in Pocket, a fantastic product that has only just scratched the surface of its ultimate potential.”
Mozilla offered no hint of future products beyond working on Pocket. They only published that they are looking forward to adding the Pulse team’s expertise to their growing suite of products.
“We are energized by the chance to work together, and I can’t wait to see what we build.”
It will be very interesting to see what Mozilla comes up with with the team acquired with Pulse.
Read the official announcement:
Pulse Joins the Mozilla Family to Help Develop a New Approach to Machine Learning
Featured image by Shutterstock/Kateryna Onyshchuk
An upcoming collaboration between UCLA Extension and Google will provide a no-cost career service program structured to support underserved communities in Los Angeles.
The collaboration will launch in 2023, offering career services and courses in high-demand STEM fields – including data analytics, information technology support, project management and computer automation – through the Python programming language and various design program platforms.
The initiative extends from the current UCLAxCareerBridge program, which launched in 2021 and was funded by a $2.9 million grant from the state of California and Grow with Google , an online Google-run extension school that partners with different university campuses and businesses. Both programs share a common mission to provide low- to no-cost certifications and resources to in-demand fields, according to the UCLAxCareerBridge and Grow with Google websites.
Over half of Grow with Google’s 70,000 graduates are from underrepresented groups, and it partners specifically with groups such as women-owned businesses, veterans, Latino communities and justice-impacted groups, according to its website
To qualify for the program, students would need a GED or high school diploma, though some specialized certifications may require other prerequisites, according to the program’s website.
The courses are taught by specialized Google employees and are structured to be time efficient, with students receiving a certification in around three to six months, according to the Grow with Google website. Each course provides hands-on labs, interactive assessments and additional services including orientation, interview preparation and point-of-contact advisement supported by Grow with Google and UCLA Extension.
Layla Banu, a student enrolled in UCLAxCareerBridge’s data science program, said in an emailed statement that she found the online certification process to be convenient, offering work-life balance as she completes the course alongside her current position as an AmeriCorps researcher.
“This program offers online learning which is a great cost-effective option for students with added comfort of studying at (a) self-paced environment,” Banu said in the statement.
The program plans to expand from UCLAxCareerBridge’s current certifications in data science, substance abuse counseling and early childhood education through the collaboration. After Google Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Gevelber met with UCLA Chancellor Gene Block in May, they decided on the benefits of a partnership that would directly target the LA community, said Emily Olson, a UCLA Extension spokesperson.
Olsen added that UCLAxCareerBridge would work with local community organizations in LA to qualify students who otherwise would not be able to afford UCLA Extension’s current programs.
UCLA Extension Dean Eric Bullard said the co-branded trainings strive to broaden inclusive access to education.
“Google’s top-notch tech training and UCLA Extension’s high quality student support and career services complement each other well, providing a unique collaboration to support student success, expand job opportunities and stimulate continued lifelong learning,” said Bullard in an emailed statement.
The program hopes to help graduates get jobs and higher pay as they enter the workforce, according to Grow with Google’s website. Graduates will have access to an employer association with membership from companies such as Accenture, Deloitte, Verizon and Google through the Google platform.
For students like Banu, who hope to advance their careers in highly competitive fields, this kind of exposure provides opportunities for networking and job placement upon receiving a cost-free certificate.
“When Google and UCLA Extension are agreed to join hands towards a common goal of providing high in-demand training to underserved communities … this collaborative effort would be a resounding success,” Banu said in the emailed statement.
Last month, leaders from Accenture, Dropbox and Walmart met at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit—a forum that connects, inspires and equips the next generation of female leaders—to explore learning cultures within the workplace.
The panelists emphasized the importance of a culture of learning in which leaders actively encourage their teams to take risks, be curious and ask questions. Leaders can do this by introducing new tools and technologies to allow employees to work smarter, not harder; providing access to helpful resources and training materials; and fostering a supportive environment that encourages open dialogue. The panelists also agreed that organizations benefit greatly from a culture of experimentation, flexibility, collaboration and innovation. Because by doing so, companies can unlock the potential of their people and create an environment where employees can reach their highest potential.
Courtney Rose, vice president of services sector at Google, believes that leaders should create environments for learning and growth; instead of handing over a playbook, if there even is one. In an interview, she said, “give your teams a goal and let them set the agenda to get there. That way, they can own the objective and learn as they set the path towards achieving it.” Rose advocated that the key to success is empowering teams to come up with creative solutions and not disregard the voices of those on their team. “It’s the same mindset I apply to customers—the better we understand their objectives, the better we can help them connect the dots,” she added.
Her view is shared by Josh Hester, CEO of The Story Teller Studios, who suggested in an interview that leaders should create a narrative for the entire team and deliver them a goal to achieve. “When everyone is on the same page, it’s easier for them to understand why they are doing what they are doing and how their efforts contribute to the bigger picture,” he added. Here are five techniques that may help.
Try to provide resources and opportunities that enable your team to stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends. After all, the better informed they are, the more agile their decision-making. Make sure that your team members have the opportunity to continue learning new things, which could include providing access to online courses, attending conferences or workshops, or simply encouraging them to read relevant industry news and articles. You could even deliver bonuses to team members who complete specific courses.
Encourage conversations and idea-sharing among your team members so that everyone can learn from each other and collaborate in a meaningful way. Make sure that all ideas are welcome, no matter how absurd they may seem at first glance—some of the most innovative concepts have come from seemingly random thoughts, according to research. Also, provide an open and comfortable space for team members to express their opinions and ask questions without feeling judged. For example, you could create a virtual forum or discussion board where everyone can come together to express their thoughts and ideas.
Social learning is a type of learning that takes place between people. It’s an effective way for employees to share knowledge and learn from each other. After all, no one knows everything, and the collective expertise of a team can be much more potent than any singularity. Encourage your team to ask questions, build relationships, and help each other whenever possible. This approach will benefit employees’ professional development and foster better working relationships among team members. For example, you might create a team chat room or initiate “lunch and learn” sessions where employees can discuss Topics of mutual interest—helping ensure everyone is on the same page and has access to the resources they need to succeed.
Give employees regular feedback on their performance. This feedback should be both positive and constructive, and it should be specific and actionable. Additionally, make sure to allow employees to provide feedback on their development and growth. For example, you might ask them what skills they’d like to develop or how they think their job can be improved. By doing this, you create an environment where employees feel valued and appreciated while also being able to grow professionally.
Set clear expectations for employee performance by setting SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. This lets employees know exactly what they’re working towards and how they can best use their time and resources to reach those goals. Additionally, ensure that the goals you set are realistic—if they are overly ambitious or unattainable, it can create frustration for employees who feel like they’re set up for failure. After all, it’s only natural for people to strive for success, so ensure your team has the tools and support they need to reach their goals.
In summary, if you want to create a learning culture in your workplace, you should encourage and support continued learning, view failure as an opportunity to learn, encourage social learning, and provide feedback. Taking these steps will help you foster a more positive and productive environment within your organization. In addition, with the right approach, you’ll be able to foster a learning culture that encourages employees to grow and develop their skills. This will help employees become more successful in their current roles and potentially open up new job opportunities for them as they expand their skill set. Fostering a learning culture can benefit everyone within your organization—from employees to customers—and ultimately lead to tremendous success.
Aguinis is part of the founding team of Menlo Labs, an early-stage fund and incubator. Since joining Menlo in 2020, Aguinist helped incubate five new companies, working closely with their CEOs on everything from financial discipline and relationship management to branding and recruiting.
Before joining Menlo, she helped guide the strategy of Fortune 500 companies as a consultant at BCG and brings that experience to her work with startups. Aguinis believes that any successful business partnership relies on rigor and discipline, but also looks for businesses that are thoughtful about where they focus their efforts. "Working hard isn't always what begets success," she said. "It's also important to be strategic about where and with whom to do your hard work."
Earlier this year, Aguinis launched Menlo's Future Founders program, a network of aspiring entrepreneurs that aims to identify and nurture a new generation of high-impact startups.
Ali joined Inspired Capital as an investor in 2020 and the firm promoted him to principal earlier this year. Recently, he invested in Hopscotch, a pediatric mental-health startup that raised an $8 million seed round this fall.
Prior to becoming a VC, Ali spent three years as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs after he graduated from Dartmouth College.
For aspiring investors, Ali recommends doing your research.
"Really spend time learning which stage of VC investing excites you the most and plays to your strength, as the day-to-day responsibilities of sourcing, diligence, decision-making, and portfolio support looks quite different across stages," he said.
"Similarly, it's important to understand a fund's strategy. For example, how many investments do they make per fund? Do they typically lead or follow? Do they take board seats? The answer to these questions will have important implications for your deal velocity, depth of founder relationships, and the investing skill that you develop."
Since joining DCM in 2017, Bai has led ambitious investments in deep-tech verticals like autonomous driving, artificial intelligence, and robotics.
In addition to spearheading new investments for DCM this year, he also oversaw the IPO of the logistics company GigaCloud Technology, one of the few Chinese companies to go public in 2022.
Focusing on these areas has allowed Bai to leverage his substantial operational and technical experience. Before joining DCM, he was part of the founding team at the robotics startup RoboteX, where he tackled everything from engineering challenges to supply-chain optimization to financial analytics.
DCM China's cofounder and general partner, Hurst Lin, said that thanks to Bai's investments in areas like AI and robotics, the firm is now well positioned to be a major player in the industries of the future. "He helped DCM to expand beyond the usual VC comfort zone," Lin said.
After leading investments at 35 Ventures, the fund created by the basketball star Kevin Durant, Bakhai struck out on her own with a $10 million early-stage fund in the hopes of disrupting the venture-capital industry itself. Her fund's backers include a who's who of the VC industry, counting Marc Andreessen, Chris Dixon, and Alexis Ohanian as limited partners.
"Today, everyone is an investor," Bakhai wrote in an investment memo, "yet in private markets, VCs are still serving as gatekeepers to innovation, and their backers are not reflective of the communities they serve."
Spice is looking to leverage underrepresented and untapped investors and founders in order to champion startups with diverse perspectives across the broad categories of crypto, capital, and community. The majority of her capital comes from female limited partners, a rare feat in an industry still dominated by men.
"Maya brings empathy and transparency to every conversation," said Howard Akumiah, the founder of Betty Labs, which was acquired by Spotify in 2021. "She fights for her founders and isn't consumed by hype, which is rare in this industry."
Despite the ravages of the crypto-winter, Beller remains a big believer in the transformative power of the blockchain.
She insists that it's only a matter of time until Web3 becomes a larger part of people's lives. She's brought that belief to NFX, where, since 2021, she has led some of the firm's biggest crypto investments, including a seed investment in the crypto-infrastructure provider Ramp and a pre-seed investment in Carapace, which provides protection against crypto-default risk.
Beller honed her views on the blockchain during her time on the corporate-development team at Facebook, where she helped define the company's strategy around Web3 and was instrumental in the creation of Facebook's digital currency, Libra.
Beller prefers working with founders who look at the world in new and unconventional ways. "I'm a big believer that if you're not weird, you're weird," she said. "So whether it's you think the world is broken and it won't be fixed until you do this thing, or you're obsessed with X, or you lose sleep over Y. Whatever is your thing that makes you weird, that's great, and if you're weird, come find us."
In her career working at startups, Bent has served in almost every functional role, spanning operations, product management, customer service, talent and recruiting, design, sales, marketing, strategy, and general management. In 2019, Bent brought this expertise to Lightspeed's consumer investing team.
Bent looks for early-stage startups that are helping members of underserved communities in tech and business create and build personal wealth, whether it's through crypto, fintech, career mobility, or the creator economy. Some of her most well-known investments to date include the rapid-grocery-delivery startup Flink, the NFT marketplace Magic Eden, and edtech startups Fidu, Forage, and Outschool. She also leads the firm's scout program and has spearheaded efforts to invest in companies based in Latin America.
Bent's best advice for aspiring venture capitalists is to learn through doing, by writing out investment theses and memos and sharing them with investors who could be prospective employers. "Don't email someone asking for a job. Start doing the job and email asking for feedback on what you built," she said
Biggs, the cohead of private investments and managing director of Franklin Templeton's venture-capital arm, Franklin Venture Partners, has helped the investment giant land deals in tech's buzzy mid-to late-stage growth companies, including Benchling, Discord, Gong, and Ironclad.
At Franklin Templeton, Biggs looks for startups that are "clear breakout winners of large categories" that he believes will become "enduring public companies," he told Insider. More specifically, Biggs prefers companies that show compound growth for decades and business models "that lend themselves to being highly cash-generative," he said.
Even with a slowdown in investing, Blumberg is doubling down on investments in healthcare. In the past year, Blunberg helped M13 win nine competitive healthcare-startup deals, including the fund's largest investment to date in Canvas Health, which raised $24 million in funding in July of 2022.
In addition to sitting on the board of Agora Health and writing regularly about the future of healthcare, she also hosts panels and events designed to bring together founders and investors in the healthcare-startup community.
Morgan joined M13 in 2021, after working as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley and at former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg's philanthropic organization and on his presidential campaign.
Brown joined Inspired Capital, a $500 million firm that focuses on early-stage investing, in 2020 after stints at First Round Capital and the Blackstone Group, and he leads the firm's enterprise-software, fintech, and proptech investing. Through his career he's been an avid angel investor and helped found Angel Track, a platform and community for emerging angel investors across the country.
His exact investments at Inspired include QA Wolf, a cloud-based startup that works to detect software bugs, and Scythe Robotics, which builds autonomous robots for landscaping.
Brown said that seed and Series A startup founders need to show him that they can make their business their life's work.
Originally hailing from the UK, Chelkowski began her US venture-capital career as an analyst at Initialized Capital before moving to Inovia Capital in 2018. In early 2022, Chelkowski founded Blank Ventures, a pre-seed and seed fund, alongside Abhinav Tiwari and Antoine Nivard.
Chelkowski values integrity, founder-market fit, compelling industry insights, and a demonstrated ability to execute in the founders that she works with. When evaluating investment opportunities, she told Insider that she always asks these three questions: "What unique advantage does this team have, how big is the opportunity, and why now?"
Chi is used to tackling difficult challenges. One of the founding team members of Google's moonshot venture X, Chi helped create the prototype of Google Glass. And as the founding partner at At One Ventures, an early-stage VC firm that looks for startups that have a positive effect on the planet's health, Chi is tackling the climate crisis.
Chi's fellow VCs hold the investor in high regard, with last year's rising star Ed Roman praising Chi's investments in climate-crisis startups.
Prior to At One Ventures, Chi spent time investing at Hack VC, founding two startups, and leading teams at large tech companies like Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google.
Founders that can establish and maintain a "high rate of learning towards deeply understanding and skillfully solving a customer problem," inspire Chi the most, he told Insider.
Chow cut her teeth in tech working as an in-the-trenches operator at some of the world's biggest companies, helping to design product strategy at LinkedIn and optimize supply-chain and inventory management at AmazonFresh.
After her experiences at these tech giants, Chow was intrigued by the idea of helping build operations at startups. She joined Battery in 2019 to help lead the firm's global consumer-tech practice, and since then Chow has deployed more than $325 million to startups, spearheading Battery's foray into new verticals such as digital health, proptech, and blockchain. Chow has become one of the firm's resident experts on Web3, regularly leading internal presentations on cryptocurrency, decentralized finance, and blockchain interoperability.
She also led the firm's expansion into Latin America, establishing herself as an expert on the region's startup ecosystem and laying the groundwork for Battery's investments in the Brazil-based Fresh and Xepelin in Chile.
Of all the investments Chow has led at Battery, she said she's most proud of her work with Modern Health, a company that she believes can make an impact on society by increasing access to mental-health services. "I believe we're facing another epidemic of sorts," Chow said. "Mental health has been stigmatized for a long time and considered an afterthought to physical health. Modern Health tackles this head-on."
Das joined CapitalG in 2015 following stints at the asset manager Lazard and the PE firm Providence Equity Partners. Since joining the firm, Das has invested in notable startups across the fintech and healthcare spaces, including the investing app Robinhood, the payment processing startup Stripe, and the kidney-care startup Strive Health.
Das is passionate about companies that offer mission-critical services and Excellerate consumers' economic mobility. In addition to fintech and healthcare, he invests internationally in India, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.
Born in Paris, the son of med-school dropout turned aerospace entrepreneur, Ephrati joined Lightspeed's growth practice in 2019 to lead the firm's reinvestment team, focusing on fast-growing consumer and software companies.
Since then, he's hired and trained two new associates and deployed more than $500 million in follow-on and new investments.
Earlier this year, he helped a firm partner Justin Overdorff open Lightspeed's first ever Manhattan office, spearheading the storied firm's entry into the New York venture scene. He also runs Lightspeed's fundraising bootcamp where he's worked with founders at more than 250 portfolio companies, helping them hone their pitches and get the most out of new funding rounds. Ephrati sits on the boards of multiple companies including the newly minted unicorn company Glean.
When scouting new investments, Ephrati says, he looks for founders with clarity of vision, depth of thinking, and grit. "Founders who exhibit these qualities will typically be a magnet for talent, prospects, and capital," Ephrati said.
In the two years since she made the jump from journalism to investing, Farr, who was a healthtech reporter for CNBC, has quickly become one of the premier investors in the healthtech space, specifically when it comes to women's health startups.
She is a founding partner in Caraway Health, a telemedicine startup for women in college, as well as Oath Care, a medical- and community-support network for moms.
Farr told Insider that she looks for founders with good storytelling capabilities and grit.
"At the early stages, when there isn't much else to go on, CEOs must convince new hires, customers, investors, or the press to rally around their vision," she said. "That's a momentous task, and those who do it well tend to be captivating and authentic."
Garg wasn't content with just being a startup founder — in addition to founding and selling two startups to Facebook and Hobson's, a subsidiary of The Daily Mail Group, Garg also cofounded the crypto-VC firm Electric Capital, where he's now a managing partner.
While at Electric Capital, Garg has invested in the likes of MagicEden, Bitwise, Kraken, dYdX, Aven, and Frax. The investor has also served as a part-time partner at Y Combinator, where he advised startups on a number of topics, such as product strategy, scaling, and fundraising. From 2012 to 2016, Garg also led the product team for Facebook's "Local" organization, which includes Events, Pages, and Local Search.
Born in Miami to Cuban-Greek immigrants, Georgoulakis has worn many different hats in her professional career, including as a small-business owner, jeweler, voice-over artist, executive coach, service designer, and as a leader in customer experience at the survey company Typeform. All those experiences helped her understand customers at a deep level. Now her customers are the startups themselves.
In 2021, Georgoulakis became the first non-founder partner of 776, the venture firm founded by Reddit's Alexis Ohanian. She has created open-source programs to support the firm's startups, leading workshops and working closely with management teams to enhance customer experience and define strategy. She also serves as product manager for Cerebro, 776's in-house operating system that serves as a platform to connect and support founders.
Though Gianakopoulos' role has evolved over time from operator to investor, an interest in fintech has been a running thread throughout his entire professional career. Post-college, the Scale Venture Partners vice president started as a product manager at the financial-software company Intuit before moving to Personal Capital, a startup specializing in financial tools and advisory. In 2018, the investor joined Scale and since then has invested in the likes of AppOmni, Archipelago, Comet, Papaya Global, Scout RFP, Socure, Spot AI, Spruce, and Tetrate.
Gianakopoulos told Insider that he doesn't "buy into the whole 'good venture investors need operating experience' mantra," but he does believe that "some expertise in a given domain can help you better identify relevant trends within that sector" and encouraged aspiring VCs to "find an area they're genuinely curious about and focus time and professional energy there."
Goldberg found her passion for tech on a sabbatical from college in Israel. She then landed an internship at Chapter One and never looked back. As one of Insider's rising stars of crypto investing, Gaby Goldberg told Insider that she looks to invest in startups at the intersection of consumer and crypto. Before she joined The Chernin Group as a crypto-specific investor in 2021, she worked at Bessemer Venture Partners.
Despite the crypto winter, Goldberg has made early-stage deals across the Web3 space this year, including with the digital-museum-membership startup Arkive, the digital-fashion platform Draup, and with Branch, the studio behind the popular island survival sandbox game "Castaways."
For Goldberg, the most important quality she looks for in a startup or founder is "intellectual honesty," she said.
For Goyal, VC was a side hustle before it became her full-time focus. While working as a product manager at Samsara, she founded Base Case "out of a burning desire to spend more time with earlier-stage founders." Nine months later, she took the leap to working as a full-time VC.
The early-stage VC firm focuses on the enterprise-software space, and Goyal has already seeded notable startups like the creator-economy startup Beacons and the billing-infrastructure startup Orb.
For others looking to break into venture capital, Goyal said it's tough — but possible — to do it without a track record.
"Spend time around exceptional people and companies, understand what makes them great, and figure out where you can add value," she said. "Building a 'portfolio' of companies that sing your praises can in many ways be more powerful than putting money into companies that don't say the same."
Guerra understands the challenges of entrepreneurship at a deep level. In 2019, she cofounded Nucleate, a life-sciences accelerator and incubator where students, Ph.D. recipients, and post-doc researchers can learn to build businesses based on their research and discoveries.
She's using that experience in her role as an investor. A senior associate at Bessemer Venture Partners' Cambridge, Massachusetts, office, Guerra focuses on backing startups in healthcare and life sciences. Before joining Bessemer in the summer of 2021, she was an investor at BoxGroup Ventures.
Guerra has invested in a number of healthtech and biotech startups, including House Rx, Oshi Health, Rupa Health, and Turquoise Health.
"Venture is a difficult industry to break into, but it definitely rewards hustle and grit," Guerra told Insider. For anyone looking to get into venture capital, Guerra said the best tactic is to "lean into your superpowers," like sector expertise or soft skills when looking for roles, and to join a local entrepreneurship community. "It will help you stand out and prove that you can already do the job before you even start," she said
As the youngest and first female investor to make partner at Glade Brook Capital Partners, Guo has been building a reputation as one of the top investors to watch.
After six years at the firm, Guo currently leads its efforts in e-commerce, digital and social media, the creator economy, healthtech, AI and Big Data, and Web3. In all, she's led more than a dozen new investments over her time at Glade Brook. She was a big advocate for investing in the now-unicorn Patreon back in 2019, and she's now a board observer for the company. She also serves on the boards of KitaBeli and Headout and is a board observer for Hopper and NimbleRx, all of which were deals she helped close for the fund.
Guo also works closely with Glade Brook's founder and chief investment officer, Paul Hudson, to identify new investment themes that will underpin the firm's future fund strategies, including those for the latest $430 million growth-equity fund, which closed in June 2022, according to her nominator.
"I look for founders who can demonstrate a right to win in whatever market they are tackling," Guo told insider. "Often it comes from a unique set of experiences, but it can also come from technical expertise, relentless drive, or simply strong execution."
Han became a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners in October after having graduated from the firm's scouting program in 2019. Before Lightspeed, she was an investor at Google's Gradient Ventures, where she led deals in early-stage SaaS, AI, and fintech startups.
Before working in venture, Han was the first business hire at Ramp, where she started and led business development and partnerships. She also previously worked as the head of business-development at Atrium, where she helped scale the company from 10 employees to a team of more than 250 and over $20 million in revenue.
At Lightspeed, Han focuses on enterprise deals, including enterprise applications for AI and infrastructure. She's also an active angel investor and has personally backed several early-stage startups including Hightouch, Pave, Rutter, and Secureframe.
Right after graduating from Harvard in 2012, Han joined Volition Capital.
For the past decade, Han has risen through the ranks of the Boston-based growth-equity firm. Earlier this year, he became the first non-founding member to be internally promoted to partner in the firm's history.
During his time at Volition, Han has deployed more than $250 million into startups, leading Series A investments in the unicorns Assent and Securonix.
He serves on multiple boards and has overseen successful exits at companies such as the video-technology provider Connatix, which was acquired by Court Square Capital Partners; the earthquake-modeling-software company Insite Software, which was acquired by Episerver; and the mortgage-processing company LoanLogics, which was acquired by Sun Capital Partners.
Hanna is a talent agent turned venture capitalist, who used to work for William Morris Endeavor and Paradigm Talent Agency in Los Angeles before jumping into investing.
As a principal at Marcy Venture Partners, the venture-capital fund cofounded by Larry Marcus, Jay Brown, and Jay-Z, Hanna focuses on backing startups in consumer products and services with an emphasis on sustainability and accessibility. Some of his more well-known deals include Rihanna's Savage X Fenty, and he's backed trendy consumer startups like Our Place and the skincare line Versed, and the camera-equipment company Wyze. He's also backed a few marketplace startups, including StockX.
Hanna looks for startups that have a clear sense of community behind their products and audience, he told Insider. "Community drives down customer-acquisition costs and fuels organic growth, which is absolutely crucial when scaling a consumer business efficiently and profitably, especially in today's macroeconomic environment," he said.
Heck joined Bain Capital Ventures in 2020, after working as an associate at Long Ridge Equity Partners for a year. Since joining, he has spearheaded investments and diligence efforts for BCV's commerce-tech team, and led the firm's deal in the inventory-management startup Cogsy. He's also assisted on deals with the e-commerce marketing studio Soona and the mobile-restaurant startup Wonder.
When considering backing a startup or not, Heck first looks for a strong, smart founder. "The best founders always find a way to win," he told Insider.
"The difference is backing a founder who you believe to have tremendous founder-market fit, product vision, is a thought leader, has a real sense for collaboration, and someone you can get along with," Heck said.
Hollins launched his venture fund, Collide Capital, in January this year. He and his fellow cofounder and managing partner, Aaron Samuels, announced its debut fund in October, with $66 million in capital from impressive backers, including the tech giants Amazon, Alphabet (Google's parent company), and Twitter, as well as Citi and Bank of America.
It's a project he spent the better part of six years building, all while working at Goldman Sachs across investment management, investment banking, and merchant banking. Through Collide Capital, Hollins writes checks ranging from $500,000 to $1 million for companies across enterprise SaaS, supply-chain infrastructure, and Gen Z-minded consumer software. Some of his most exact investments include Atomic Invest, Rheaply, Slang.ai, Tango, and Weav.
Hollins is a founding board member of the industry group BLCK VC, and the founder and CEO of the Takeoff Institute, which provides Black undergraduate students with resources and mentorship to jump-start their professional careers.
"Your effort in spending six to 12 months building relationships with a firm can pay off in a big way long term," he told Insider about getting started in venture capital. "Start sending deals, sharing thoughts, and building rapport with members of the team without expecting anything in return. Oftentimes the best jobs in venture don't show up on a job board, but instead result from the firm being all in on adding someone who has been adding value for some time."
Hu recently joined Y Combinator more permanently as a group partner after serving as a visiting group partner for three batches.
Before her work with YC, Hu was a cofounder and the CTO of Escher Reality, an augmented-reality back-end company that Niantic, the makers of Pokémon Go, acquired in 2018. At Niantic, she was head of the AR platform. Previously, she led data science at OnCue TV, which Verizon bought in 2014.
Because of Hu's professional experience, she advises founders with questions about data science, developer tools, virtual and augmented reality, and computer vision.
There isn't one single characteristic that can make a founder successful, Hu told Insider. "In general, they are technically oriented and ambitious who are good at holding dichotomies in their heads. They balance the long-term goals, but also incredibly pragmatic and move very quickly early on," she said.
As a VC focused on growth-stage fintech, marketplace, and B2B software startups, Hummer has focused on building out Bain Capital Ventures's international reach since she joined the firm in 2018. She led the firm's European investments in Ankorstore, Pleo, and Fidel API, and also made BCV's first-ever investment in Latin America, backing the B2B marketplace startup Miferia.
Prior to joining BCV, Hummer was a growth-equity investor at Goldman Sachs.
Hummer told Insider that the most important quality she looks for in startup founders is a combination of ambition, determination, and humility.
Lux Capital promoted Isford to partner this month after she worked there as a principal since this February. She sources and leads deals in startups that are "focused on innovating at the nexus of the computational sciences," she wrote on her LinkedIn profile, such as enterprise and data infrastructure, blockchain infrastructure, and AI and machine-learning applications, especially in healthcare and financial services.
Before joining Lux, Isford invested in enterprise, supply-chain, and data startups at Canvas Ventures, where she led top deals in Conduktor, Flowspace, Robocorp, Skyflow, and Vendia.
Isford is also a board member for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, which helps early entrepreneurs and engineers develop new technologies and scale them to successful businesses.
The most important quality in a startup founder that Isford looks for is "a mix of humility and ambition," she told Insider, as well as knowing to "hire the right team members and partners to complement their strengths."
Since joining Softbank in 2019, Karas, who has a Ph.D., has already made her mark on the storied firm: She fast-tracked two promotions, to vice president and investment director, and helped to launch the firm's $100 million Miami initiative for startups in the city.
She also coleads the SB Opportunity Fund, which is Softbank's venture arm for investing exclusively in Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous founders. Since launching the fund in 2020, she's personally backed over 15 companies, including Drift, the fund's first successful exit to Vista Equity Partners at a unicorn valuation. She's backed large-growth-stage startups like Eight Sleep, Paystand, QuickNode, and Upside Foods.
These days, Karas is bullish on AI and looking to invest in founders and companies that are "solving a specific problem for a large but specific audience incredibly well," she told Insider.
As the founder and managing partner of her solo fund Worklife Ventures, Kimmel works to help operators from high-growth companies start businesses of their own. It's a path Kimmel is familiar with: She was working in growth marketing at Zendesk before diving into startup investing full time.
In the three years since she started Worklife, Kimmel has backed some of the startup world's most promising unicorns, like the fintech unicorn Pipe and the virtual-events giant Hopin, and got more than seven-times returns for her first fund in less than three years. She has also invested in workplace-tech-tool startups across all functions like Hex, WorkOS, Tome, and Webflow.
Recently, Kimmel has been active in backing startups that are creating "AI-first tools for work," including the image generator Stable Diffusion. She's always interested in startups that create "new ways for anyone to build and be more creative, either for their day job or hobbies on evenings and weekends," she told Insider.
Read more about Kimmel's investment strategies and thesis here
Lai has spent her career actively working against the biases and toxicity of venture capital's "old boys' club" mentality, going so far as to sue her former employer for the right to tell her own story.
Lai has established herself as an investor at Bullpen Capital, where she's deployed her unique investment approach — which she describes as data-informed, not data-driven — to find and support exciting founders who otherwise might have been overlooked.
She also strives to look beyond the traditional metrics and "gut feelings" about how good a founder's bio looks.
"The traditional bro-style, hype-driven VC approach is prone to bias, too often unsubstantiated by real performance," she said. "The result? Vapor valuations. Diligence should be about telling the true story of a company; it's as much about uncovering gems as finding reasons to dismiss deals."
Lowercarbon Capital's mission is to invest in startups working on solutions to the climate crisis, something that Laplaza has been passionate about for years. Before joining Lowercarbon Capital, Laplaza was a Fullbright Scholar and had been working on clean-energy deployment in emerging economies in India, Brazil, Indonesia, Kenya, Uganda, and Bangladesh.
He joined Lowercarbon in 2020 as an associate and worked his way up to partner in less than two years, backing cutting-edge climate-tech startups like Lilac Solutions, Sublime Systems, Remora, Kula Bio, Zero Acre Farms, and Solar Square.
Laplaza likes founders that have what he calls "unreasonable ambition," who "ignore what seems possible in favor of exceptionally big and painful problems," he told Insider. "Audacious missions fuel recruitment of top talent, sustained obsession with learning, and access to markets big enough to create highly valuable and impactful businesses."
Lay joined NEA in 2017 after a stint as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs. She was quickly promoted to principal and has been instrumental in defining NEA's strategy around the consumer internet with a particular focus on e-commerce, mental health, and dating.
Working closely with startups has taught her that the most important determinant of success for a new company is resilience, Lay said. "I've learned that being a founder can look glamorous on the outside, but building a large company is not for the faint of heart," she said. "If you have a big, audacious vision, things are going to feel impossibly difficult at some point along the journey — likely at many points. We believe in being in the trenches with our founders."
Lay has also been key to the firm's expansion into Southeast Asia, spending time on the ground in the region meeting founders and funders and helping plant a flag for NEA in a dynamic, fast-growing startup scene.
In only two years, Leão went from an intern at Maverick Ventures to a principal. Prior to joining Maverick, Leão invested in pre-seed and seed businesses as managing partner at Dorm Room Fund, a student-run VC fund that First Round Capital backed, and through The 21 Fund, a $2 million seed fund backing the Stanford Graduate School of Business startups — her alma mater.
Originally from Brazil, Leão focuses on investing in cybersecurity, SaaS, climate tech, and AI while also investing in Latin American startups.
When evaluating founders, Leão said she looks at the distance they've traveled — in any shape or form.
"Sometimes that comes in the form of a successful professional outcome they can already point to, but often it's a personal story that shines the most light on who they are and will become as leaders," she said. "There are many picture-perfect résumés out there, but in the end, being a founder is often grueling work, and pedigree isn't what determines success. I want to see that someone has the drive and grit to run through walls if necessary."
Lee has always been fascinated by macroeconomic trends. During her time as an undergrad at Berkeley, she spent a summer in sales and trading, where she got a firsthand look at the chaos of the markets before pivoting to investment banking to develop a deeper understanding of what makes businesses tick, she told Insider.
Now, Lee leverages both her market experience and her business-model know-how to advise startups as a vice president at Sapphire Ventures that focuses on fintech, e-commerce, and broader enterprise software, investing in the likes of AvidXchange, BetterUp, Brightfield, Gorgias, Mercury, Paper, Podium, and Sword Health.
For Lee, the founders that stand out the most are those who are “extremely thoughtful about the way they build their business, have deep empathy for their customers, and demonstrate unwavering grit to execute on their vision,” she told Insider.
As an investor, Liben's strength comes from her nontraditional professional and personal background, Adrianna Samaniego, a principal at Female Founders Fund, told Insider. Having operated in challenging environments across Sub-Saharan Africa and the US as an urban planner, consultant, and investor, Liben understands the struggles of forward-thinking founders, she added.
Liben currently invests in fintech and Web3 startups as a principal at the seed-stage VC firm Primary Venture Partners. Before joining Primary, she was a founding member at Serena Ventures, tennis star Serena Williams' VC firm, where she helped raise the firm's debut $111 million fund.
When evaluating startups, Liben is most drawn to founders that can not only embrace the risk of entrepreneurship but also are "brave enough to self-reflect" and "proactively surround themselves with talent" that fills in the gaps in their capabilities, she told Insider.
A data scientist by training, Lu spent the early days of his career at Google, where he helped to launch and grow YouTube's first paid-subscription businesses. Working with one of the most widely used consumer services led Lu to have an interest in backing the next big consumer idea.
At Maveron, Lu leads seed and Series A investing for consumer startups. His exact investments include StageGlass, a startup that helps homebuyers digitally decorate their new living spaces; the sustainable-coffee startup Brewbird; and Free Agency, a talent-management startup for tech workers.
Lu said that his investing interests lie at the intersection of consumer, community, and culture, and he has two pieces of advice for aspiring investors: do things that others aren't willing to do, and always be willing to help others.
"It sends a signal about your integrity, it will make you a better person, and you never know when an act of goodwill might end up benefiting you enormously later," Lu said.
Man admitted that she might not have the typical investor background. Born and raised in Indiana before moving to Beijing at age 12, Man told Insider that her unique upbringing, during which she saw Beijing go from a "totally cash-based society to a place that's, in many ways, more modern than the living experience in the States," actually sparked her initial interest in tech, markets, and globalization.
After graduation, Man spent time at the asset manager Point72 as a founding member of the firm's venture-capital arm, where she participated in everything from strategy and investing to portfolio management. Following Point72, Man joined Redpoint Ventures and now invests in fintech and enterprise-software startups like the rocket-ship company Ramp.
Man encourages aspiring investors to dig deep when exploring industries and develop differentiated, unique insights on trends. And, she added, they should "never underestimate the power of a good cold email."
Mayer made a name for herself by running global communications for Box, taking the company from a 50-person startup through its IPO and beyond. She's now taking her PR expertise to venture. Mayer cofounded Coalition Operators in 2021 alongside Jaclyn Rice Nelson, Toyin Ajayi, and Lindsay Ullman.
Mayer, who also ran communications at Glossier and Social Capital, invests in early-stage startups that founders with capital and operational expertise lead.
Mayer said that senior leaders in operating roles can also make great investors.
"Operators can be some of the most valuable people on cap tables, and the fact that you're currently in the trenches will only make your expertise more relevant to founders," she said. "Additionally, many emerging fund managers will take investment from 'micro LPs' who can provide support to their portfolio companies."
Miller has been a principal partner at Plus Capital for two years, during which time she's invested in the consumer startups Vivrelle, a membership club loaning designer handbags and jewelry; Bobbie, which sells organic baby formula; and the restaurant-and-lifestyle brand True Food kitchen.
She's also invested in the sustainability startups Pachama, which uses AI to restore forests; and MycoWorks, a biotech startup that makes vegan leather from mycelium.
Prior to Plus Capital, Miller invested in the direct-to-consumer hair-care startup Madison Reed while at Enlightened Hospitality Investments, the restaurateur Danny Meyer's fund.
Miller said that her first gut check with meeting a founder is deciding how much a startup needs to exist: "How badly does this founder believe this company needs to exist, and are they the right person to build it? Maybe you could call this the convergence of product-market fit and founder-market fit."
Michelle Nie's a Gen Z-er, and a proud one at that. She published a piece in 2020 on the future of social for the rapidly growing generation, and since then has focused on Gen Z platforms, marketplaces, and consumer software as an investor at Norwest Venture Partners. There, she's invested in companies like Faire, Homeward, ICON, and Rare Candy. Before joining Norwest, Nie spent two years as a tech-investment banker at Morgan Stanley advising tech companies on capital raising and mergers and acquisitions.
What makes Nie excited to work with a founder is "clarity of thought," she said. This strength helps founders not only build a "differentiated, durable company" but also gets startup teams and potential recruits "excited and aligned," she added.
Until recently, Ritika Pai, an investor at ICONIQ Growth, has spent the majority of her life in the heart of the tech ecosystem as a Bay Area native, cutting her teeth at Morgan Stanley as a tech-investment banker before pivoting to growth-stage investing. At the end of 2021, however, Pai spearheaded her firm's expansion into Europe as a founding member of ICONIQ Growth's European office. There, she's helped the firm stamp its mark in the thriving European tech scene.
Pai loves founders who can learn and evolve. "An underlying trait in the founders with whom we've been fortunate to partner is a genuine desire for continuous improvement and the growth mindset to constantly seek out and act on learnings from customers, team members, competitors, the market, investors, and others," she said
According to Vijay Pande, a fellow Andreessen Horowitz general partner, Pferdehirt stands out for her unique perspective, "combining both scientific depth and business acumen" from her years working in biopharma R&D and business development. Pferdehirt, who's a partner on Andreessen's bio-investing team, previously spent time at the biopharmaceutical company Amgen both developing technologies for cell and gene therapies and working on business development and technology licensing.
Pferdehirt is most excited to "back companies pushing the boundaries of science and technology to change the future of human health" and founders that have "not only big ambitions, but the unique combination of technical chops and business acumen to execute on that vision," she told Insider.
Qureshi, a managing partner at the crypto-investment firm Dragonfly, has perhaps one of the most colorful backgrounds of Insider's rising VC stars.
At the age of 16, Qureshi became a professional poker player and was highly regarded in the industry, netting over $1 million in one year at the age of 19. After retiring from poker at 21, Qureshi pursued a number of projects and roles, going on to write a book on the philosophy of poker, teach students how to code, and join Airbnb as a software engineer.
In 2019, Qureshi joined Dragonfly and since then has invested in Web3 startups like Avalanche, MakerDAO, Dune Analytics, NEAR, and zkSync.
Ramakrishnan joined IVP as an investor in 2019, and this year he became, at 28, one of the youngest partners in the firm's history. Since joining the firm, he has helped deploy more than $500 million in new investments and has taken the lead on managing some of IVP's biggest public investments, including its stake in CrowdStrike, a company currently valued at more than $26 billion.
Ramakrishnan has identified a number of promising startups for IVP, including sourcing the firm's investment this year in Jasper AI, which valued the company at $1.5 billion.
When sourcing new deals, Ramakrishnan said the No. 1 feature he looks for is single-minded devotion to understanding the customer. "Whether you're closing your first enterprise contract or your thousandth, I'm looking for founders who are constantly obsessing over the end-user experience," he said.
Roos has been at Core Innovation Capital for just two years, but he's already been making a name for himself within the fintech-investment community. "He is usually my first phone call if I am looking at anything in the space," said one of last year's rising stars Christopher Harper.
During his tenure at the firm, Roos has led deals in many top early-stage fintech, payments, and insuritech startups, including Assured Allies, Conduit, Forward, Health Sherpa, Klover, PayJoy, Spinwheel, and Yotta.
Roos told Insider that the key to breaking into venture capital is "doing the job before you get the job" by becoming an expert in a specific sector and then reaching out to other investors to build a network. "Conduct deep research into sector-specific topics, reach out to industry specialists with thoughtful questions, build a network of other investors and operators in the space, blog your thoughts and ask for feedback, or help build a company in that sector before becoming an investor," he said.
For Rosenberg, a career in venture capital wasn't always the most obvious path. After spending time at Goldman Sachs as a tech, media, and telecommunications investment banker, the Greylock principal joined Facebook as an early product manager on its Facebook Messenger team as the messaging app exploded in popularity.
After trying his hand as a startup founder, Rosenberg joined Greylock in 2017 as an investor. One of his earliest investments was in online-game platform Roblox, which ended up being Greylock's second-largest check ever and snagged the firm a return fifteen times the amount from its investment to IPO. Since then, Rosenberg has invested in a number of other companies like Espresso Systems, Tome, PayJoy, Wisetack, and Pine and has focused on crypto and fintech as the sole member of Greylock's team based out of New York City.
Rosenberg told Insider that he loves working with "founders who find the balance between being experts in their domain, are fully aware of the risks, and yet build as if success is inevitable."
After early roles at Twitter and Reddit, Rosenblatt joined Craft Ventures in 2018 and focuses on building out the firm's East Coast portfolio. Since 2017, Rosenblatt has also been investing in tech's hottest startups through his own personal fund, Riverside Ventures, including Carta, Bonobos, Slack, and Dapper Labs.
Rosenblatt, whose investment focus is on SaaS, marketplaces, and consumer tech, is also a Backstage Capital mentor working to advance opportunities for underrepresented founders.
Rughani has centered his career around healthcare, first as Deloitte consultant to large healthcare companies, and later as an operator at Flatiron Health, which was eventually acquired by Roche. Since joining Andreessen Horowitz in 2018, he has continued to champion innovation in healthcare while developing deep subject-matter expertise.
In addition to sourcing some of A16z's biggest healthtech deals and helping multiple portfolio companies raise follow-on capital, Rughani also helped create the firm's Bio + Health Go-To-Market playbook.
Working with healthcare startups is especially fulfilling, Rughani said, because he's helping people live healthier, happier lives. He recalled working with the cancer-support startup Thyme Care, which begins every board meeting with the story of a patient who has been impacted by the company. "At the first meeting, I distinctly remember getting goosebumps, feeling lucky to have the opportunity to partner with such a brilliant team on such an important mission," he said.
Salisbury set off on his own earlier this year after a two-year stint at Andreessen Horowitz, where he helped build the firm's fintech practice. His $20 million fund, Cambrian Ventures, focuses on pre-seed fintech investing, and Salisbury has already added two startups to the portfolio: the B2B buy-now, pay-later startup OatFi, which raised an $8 million seed round in October; and the employee-benefits startup Keep, which raised $9 million in May.
At Andreessen, Salisbury made investments in startup hotshots like Deel and Tally.
Salisbury told Insider that the most important qualities he looks for in founders are "deep domain expertise coupled with a passion and obsession for fintech," along with the "ability to materialize a team."
Samani brings his operating experience as the founder of the health-IT startup Pristine to his current role as a venture capitalist.
In 2017, after the tech-training platform Upskill acquired Pristine, Samani cofounded Multicoin Capital, an investment firm specializing in crypto. The Austin-based $75 million VC firm, which counts Andreessen Horowitz as an LP, focuses on several overarching theses, including decentralized, open finance, the power of Web3, and global, state-free money.
In her first six months at the Gen Z-focused venture-capital fund Animal Capital, Sands has already built out her portfolio to include prominent health and fitness startups like the remote learning-difference education and therapy platform Parallel Learning and the wearable Whoop. Prior to joining the firm in July, Sands spent nearly two years at AF Ventures, and has completed stints at General Atlantic and Goldman Sachs.
Sands recommended that people looking to break into venture capital lean on their networks.
"Today it's easier than ever to meet new people and stay in touch with existing contacts," she said. "Try to grow your network every day and you never know what will present itself — new friendships and relationships, business ideas, and investment opportunities. Eventually, networking will become second nature and be one of the most enjoyable and productive ways to spend your time as an investor."
Like many successful VCs, Sanghavi came to the world of venture capital through founding a startup. He cofounded the consumer exercise-class marketplace ClassPass in 2011 and worked as the chief product officer at Arcadia, a green-energy data-analytics company, before joining Day One Ventures as a climate-focused venture partner in January 2022.
Since becoming a full-time VC, Sanghavi has backed several of Day One's top-performing climate-tech portfolio companies, including the YC-backed Alga Biosciences, the molecular biology startup Concert Bio, the green land-management startup Vibrant Planet, and the eco-friendly portable-potty startup Wasted.
"My advice is to build and invest in a community of people and ideas you actually want to see succeed," he said about what it takes to break into early-stage venture capital. "When I think back to my time as a founder, I preferred partners who actually cared about what we were doing, not those investing on hype or a shaky prediction of the future."
He added: "Now that I'm an investor, this approach has been incredibly fulfilling and leaves little space for regrets."
Only an undergrad at Harvard at the time, Sanghvi was already trying to help local entrepreneurs get seed funding. After he graduated, Sanghvi went straight to work at the early-stage firm Haystack, an early backer of startups like Instacart, DoorDash, Figma, and Carta.
At Haystack, Sanghvi focuses his investing on young software-and-tech startups such as the data-streaming platform Redpanda and the universal-commerce API Rutter. Sanghvi joined Haystack in 2019.
"I'm inspired by what I call spiky founders — those with outlier characteristics averse to the status quo," he said.
Sanghvi also writes a tech-investing newsletter and founded Branch, a direct-to-consumer office-furniture retailer.
Shang joined IVP in 2021 after a three-year stint as a technology-investment banker at Morgan Stanley. She focuses on later-stage enterprise and consumer-technology investments, including the AI-copywriting startup Jasper AI, which just raised $125 million at a $1.5 billion valuation, and the digital lender Tala, which raised a $145 million Series E late last year.
Shang told Insider that when she's evaluating founders, she focuses on how they're building their teams.
"Founders can't build a big company alone," she said. "The ability for founders to recruit and retain talent is a critical factor in startup success."
For Smith, the four most important qualities she looks for in an early-stage startup are "founder grit, team composition, distribution advantage, and a big vision," she told Insider.
It's a formula that has served her well: Before leaving Bain Capital Partners to start her solo fund this fall, Smith led major deals for more than four years as a venture partner at the firm, sourcing top deals like Lime, Rightfoot, and Mathison. Her angel portfolio is equally impressive, featuring big names like Airtable, Sorare, Pocus, OnDeck, Winnie, Biobot, Truehold, Arc, and Hey Jane.
Smith specializes in pre-seed and seed-stage deals, and her advice to those wanting to break into an increasingly crowded sector is to "have a clear, differentiated product or value to offer founders in order to win allocation in the very best companies." For first-time investors, building relationships early on is key to any future success. "Get to know industry insiders by sharing leads, introductions, and your point of view on exciting founders and investment opportunities," she said.
Streisfeld has been with Oak HC/FT since 2015, but he's had a particularly busy year, including a promotion to general partner this past summer.
Over the past 12 months, he's spearheaded many of the firm's key exits, including the acquisition of the data provider Urjanet by Arcadia, and the acquisition of the automation company Kyron by Nintex for a reported $100 million. One of his portfolio companies, Pagaya Technologies, successfully went public this year, with the company valued at $8.5 billion. He also serves on the boards of ZenBusiness, which recently raised a $200 million Series C, and Justt, which raised a $70 million Series B, both led by Oak.
Streisfeld believes in taking a focused approach and going deep to specialize in one sector. "You should be able to understand the business as well as the entrepreneur does," he said.
Struck founded his eponymous company in 2014, which encompasses Struck Capital, the group's general venture fund, its crypto fund, and its startup incubator. Since its launch, it has become one of the most well-known venture funds in the Los Angeles area and has positioned Struck as a major mover and shaker in the LA VC and startup scene.
Through the Struck umbrella, he has been able to back high-growth companies at the early stages, like Apollo.io, Latch, Mythical Games, Postmates, Sendoso, and Zero Hash, and counts A-list celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio in his roster of limited partners.
Struck told Insider that the No. 1 quality he looks for in a founder is the ability to handle adversity. "Creating a startup is a polarizing experience, not for the faint of heart. Those who succeed expect to be knocked down and already envision themselves getting back up," he said.
Though Sui started her career on the operating side at Visa and Brex, the Craft Ventures principal told Insider that she always knew she wanted to break into investing. Sui's past professional experience, though, especially her time at the fintech startup Brex, has helped inform the advice and guidance she provides founders with, she said.
Now, Sui is an integral part of Craft's investing team as the only non-partner based out of New York City and an investor that focuses on fintech and vertical software.
For aspiring investors, Sui advised digging deep into spaces that interest them — one way to do this is to borrow a page from her book and "spend time working at a startup to get the real-world, first-hand experience of building at the early-stage," she said.
Sukin first started her venture career while still an undergrad at Harvard. She helped identify and source promising new investments as a venture partner at Contrary Capital, a VC firm designed to back student entrepreneurs at universities and colleges.
She's now one of Bessemer's youngest investors and has played "an essential role in the acceleration of the firm's consumer strategy," said Jeremy Levine, a partner at the firm. Sukin led Bessemer's $17 million investment in Truebill, a personal-finance app that was acquired by Rocket Companies last year for $1.2 billion.
Since joining Bessemer, Sukin has helped define the firm's strategy around new online platforms and content curation as the author of Roadmap: Curating the Internet. She's also the architect of Bessemer's Creator Collaborative, a collective of high-impact social-media creators focused on identifying new trends in the creator economy.
Sukin serves on the boards of multiple Bessemer portfolio companies and said that attending her first board meeting has been one of her favorite moments in her venture career so far. "It was so exciting to get to participate in supporting a company at that level," Sukin said.
An internship with the supply-chain and electronics manufacturing giant Flex piqued Sun's interest in more complex technologies. Now a principal at Playground Global, Sun is passionate about backing startups in the "techbio" sector, including logistics, agriculture, and manufacturing.
Sun has already sourced and led investments in areas like logistics with the companies Pandion and Leaf, software infrastructure through EraDB, aerospace through Universal Hydrogen, and computational biology with Strand Therapeutics. She is also a board observer for the 3D-printed-rocket company Relativity Space and the gene-sequencing company Ultima Genomics.
"The entrepreneurs who've inspired me the most typically have traits that signal an obsessive personality, relentless pursuit, and a burning desire to win as a team," she told Insider.
While at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, Sykes started scouting deals for Lightspeed Venture Partners. One of the deals she sourced, Archive, which lets stores integrate secondhand shopping into their online sites, is now part of Lightspeed's portfolio.
Now a full-time partner at the firm, Sykes focuses on consumer startups and small- to medium-sized businesses. In addition to Archive, which Lightspeed has backed twice in 2022, she also scouted PIN, a startup that helps groups build out investment clubs and funds; Gander, which lets users generate videos for e-commerce sites; and the online-shopping startup Whym. She has also personally backed companies including the green-skincare line Apothekary.
Before joining Lightspeed, Sykes was a principal at Wave Capital and an investment analyst at New Enterprise Associates. She also previously managed the growth, forecasting, and strategy for several native brands at the alternative-fashion company Dolls Kill.
Sykes is a cofounder of the industry group BLCK VC, which connects and advances Black venture investors. She served as the group's co-CEO until March 2022 and still remains a board member. During her time as co-CEO, she built the nonprofit to a multimillion-dollar annual budget and an over 20,000 person reach.
Torres has dedicated her venture career to supporting underrepresented founders as one of the latest partners at Ulu Ventures, a seed-stage VC firm focused on data-driven and diverse investing. Here, she's invested in startups like Hey Jane, a virtual abortion clinic, and Parfait, a startup leveraging AI to better customize wigs.
Torres is also a cofounder and board director of the Latinx MBA Association, a nonprofit focused on developing and supporting Latino business leaders.
Before joining Ulu, Torres cut her teeth as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, where she advised companies on IPO and M&A transactions. Prior to Goldman, she spent time at the VC firm Harlem Capital and tech companies like Google and Uber.
For those looking to break into the industry, Torres emphasized the importance of strong relationships and recommended upstarts to "optimize for working with people who align with your own principles and values, and who will continue to invest in you over time."
Venkatachalam was betting on AI before it became the next big thing in tech.
She was previously a managing director at the AI-focused fund Deep Ventures, and prior to that led AI investments for the VC fund Social Capital from 2017 to 2019.
She then brought her expertise to Khosla Ventures in 2020, where she has made a name for herself as one of the firm's go-to experts on artificial intelligence and machine learning. She led seed-stage investments in AI unicorn Groq as well as Forethought, Helm, and Fireflies.
When sourcing investments, she chooses to throw her weight behind founders who are outliers. "I can help them build a complementary team around weaknesses," she said, "but they must be exceptionally strong in at least one valuable area, like leadership and vision, extreme customer empathy, or extraordinary technical capability."
Venkatachalam also boasts substantial operational experience, having been the head of corporate development and the VP of product at Skype, as well as the first product manager at Andiamo Systems, which was acquired by Cisco this year for $1.5 billion.
Weinberg came to the world of venture capital via politics and policy. Before becoming an investor himself, he worked for nonprofits and government organizations including the New York City Economic Development Corporation and President Obama's White House, where he worked to allocate $6 billion in federal funding to early-stage technology startups as a senior advisor in the Office of Investment and Innovation.
Weinberg joined Max Ventures in 2019 as a principal and was promoted to partner this year. He focuses on digital-commerce and digital-healthcare startups across the United States and Europe. He has led deals for CertifyOS, Adonis, CuraFi, and Elion, a digital-health marketplace that he also cofounded and incubated.
Weinberg tells anyone who wants to break into early-stage venture capital that becoming knowledgeable in a specific area and then building relationships is the key to success. "The goal is to show you can hit the ground running, add value on day one, and take less time to develop your 'book of business,'" he said.
A self-proclaimed "fintech nerd," Williams began her investment career backing fintech startups for more than five years as a principal at Anthemis Group, where she worked closely with top fintech companies like Pipe, Atomic Invest, Maxwell, Rally Rd, and TrueLayer. After joining Cowboy Ventures in 2021, Williams was promoted from principal to partner in December this year.
At Cowboy, Williams backs startups in a variety of verticals, including e-commerce, marketplace companies, and SaaS startups. More recently, she backed Getaway, a cabin-vacation-rental marketplace, and made a personal investment into the fintech-infrastructure startup Power's seed round.
Williams told Insider that the two most important qualities she looks for in startup founders are the ability to hire and attract talent and being a "learning animal," meaning that they are able to recognize their own limitations and see where they need to grow.
A Harvard dropout, the 23-year-old Wu parlayed internships at Apple and Microsoft to land a coveted internship at a16z that gave her access to the firm's estimated $9 billion in crypto-specific funds.
Within a few months, supervisors promoted Wu to deal analyst, and made her a partner by her first anniversary at the firm — making her a16z's youngest check writer and a rising star in crypto investing.
Wu previously told Insider that she cold emailed Arianna Simpson and asked to be the firm's first crypto intern, and reflected on breaking into venture capital as, "I climbed through a window," she said.
During her four years at BOND, Xiao's investments have spanned from the consumer sector — including the running brand On and the camping startup Hipcamp — to the healthcare sector — including the birth-control startup Nurx and the women's telemedicine behemoth Maven Clinic — and beyond — such as the SpaceX competitor Relativity Space and the proptech Veev.
Before joining the firm in 2019, she was a tech-investment banker at Morgan Stanley.
Yang fell in love with venture investing before even finishing his undergrad degree at the University of Michigan, where he served as an investor for the school's student-run Michigan Social Venture Fund.
From there, he went on to become the first undergraduate hire on Insight Partners' onsite strategy and analytics team. Since joining General Catalyst in 2020, Yang has helped lead the firm's investments in the consumer internet and fintech spaces.
Yang sourced and led investments in the gifting platform Bloom & Wild, the car-buying platform Kavak, and the design company Material Bank. In addition to serving as board member for multiple portfolio companies, Yang is also highly involved in General Catalyst's incubation strategy, in which he helps build promising fintech startups from the ground up. He said the most important quality he looks for in a founder is authenticity.
"Building an enduring business is rarely a linear, up-and-to-the-right journey," he said. "Being able to build truly trusting and lasting relationships with founders, of course on a professional level but also on a personal level, is incredibly important to me."
The science news of 2022 has been strange, dramatic, intriguing and more than occasionally alarming—but the year also saw awe-inspiring breakthroughs and heartwarming successes. Here we’ve pulled together some of the most interesting positive stories of the year, plus a couple that are just plain cool. As Scientific American’s editors wrote in an August editorial, “Exploration is science in its most basic form—asking questions of the natural world and, we hope, using the answers for the betterment of everything on Earth.”
Proteins perform crucial functions across the human body, and the twisty molecules’ actions are intimately tied to their intricate shapes. Researchers have sometimes spent years trying to determine individual protein structures. In 2022, however, the artificial intelligence program AlphaFold predicted the 3-D structures of about 200 million proteins—almost every one that is known. Scientific American talked with Demis Hassabis—CEO of the Google-owned company DeepMind, which developed AlphaFold—about the program’s creation, the power of knowing protein shapes and the future of artificial intelligence.
A Texas Facebook group’s goal to identify locally found snakes illustrates a growing trend of wildlife enthusiasts on social media promoting accurate information and shooting down myths about much maligned creatures. Locals are learning which snakes are dangerous and which can be safely removed from the premises—or simply admired from afar. By engaging with such groups, people are learning to be less afraid of their scaly neighbors and to get through encounters without harming them.
This year researchers released the first image of Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at our galaxy’s center. This beast at the heart of the Milky Way was first proposed in the early 1960s. But it took a global network of observational facilities working as one virtual unit, called the Event Horizon Telescope, to pierce the 26,000 light-years’ worth of gas and dust, distorted space and destroyed matter that shrouded its form. The new image shows the ever changing doughnutlike halo of microwaves streaming from just outside the black hole’s event horizon, from which nothing can return.
Speaking of “milky,” researchers are getting closer to understanding mysterious, transient, miles-long stretches of ocean suffused with steady white light. While these “milky seas” were considered tall tales for more than a century, researchers eventually learned to discern the phenomenon using night-vision satellites and are poised to dispatch divers to explore when a long-lasting one comes along. This large-scale bioluminescence illuminates the vastness of what we still don’t know about Earth’s oceans.
Researchers helped revive a failing river near Seattle that urban construction had harshly straightened and narrowed. To do so, they restored its underresearched “gut”—the layer of stones and sediment between a riverbed and groundwater where microbes cycle nutrients and metabolize inorganic compounds into plant and bug food. A deep dive into the process reveals how a comparatively minor addition to restoration can have a major impact on reducing pollution and flooding and on regenerating biodiversity.
A record-setting boost in renewable energy use helped keep global carbon dioxide emissions from spiking this year despite a global surge in natural gas prices potentially driving the mass use of coal. Energy sources such as wind and solar power may have avoided 600 million metric tons in additional carbon dioxide emissions during 2022. (These sources are also set to generate more power than coal did in the U.S. this year.)
Museum researchers are partnering with Indigenous North American groups to digitally replicate culturally important artifacts to safeguard them from damage. Such models can be used for preservation and education, as well as the production of physical replicas for display—and even for ritual use when the originals are too delicate, thanks to close collaboration with tribal officials.
After decades of ballooning costs and production delays, the most powerful space observatory ever built launched on Christmas 2021 before beginning an eye-wateringly delicate unfolding process in the depths of space. Finally, the James Webb Space Telescope released its first full set of images this summer, revealing awe-inspiring vistas of the universe we call home and the promise of fascinating science to come.
And finally, this year we learned that dogs’ eyes actually well up with tears when they are reunited with their owners, an oxytocin-driven reaction that seems to spark humans’ caregiving behavior.
Since late 2021, when Google announced that it would impose a 100-terabyte limit on the unlimited free storage it had been offering to higher education institutions through its Google Workspace for Education platform, universities around the country have been paying closer attention to the data stored by their users on Google Cloud.
Google implemented the policy not only because the storage required by universities has grown unmanageable but also because universities — for the most part unwillingly — have strayed from the intended use of Google Workspace for Education. Some users have inadvertently connected their network-shared Google Drive to their desktops, backing up all manner of noneducational files to the cloud. In some cases, inactive users are still taking advantage of the institution’s cloud storage space, years after their affiliation has ended.
Many institutions have not been able to get their total storage under 100TB, but the mere existence of storage limits is forcing colleges and universities to investigate their users’ habits and their own intended-use policies.
First, of course, there is the matter of cutting the current storage load to something more manageable. Once universities have trimmed the fat from their storage drives, new rules need to be implemented, and many institutions will need to find alternative storage options, whether that means paying for additional Google Cloud storage or finding a different provider.
CDW Education Amplified Services has supported Google Workspace for Education for years and has the tools and expertise to help colleges and universities through those steps. Read on to learn more about how you can bring your bloated storage under control, and keep it there.
Higher education institutions were initially given until July 2022 to get their storage under the 100TB threshold. But since then, a number have been given extensions, and any institution that purchased the Google Workspace for Education Plus package has also been granted a later deadline.
But deadline day is coming soon enough, and for universities with total storage needs that far exceed the 100TB maximum, the first step is hacking away at the complex, crowded web of directories, users and files that are taking up space.
One way to do that is to use Gopher for Drive, a free tool that takes a deep dive into your users’ storage habits. Through Gopher, administrators can access storage data broken down by user, file type, file size and more.
Armed with that data, admins can then take a close look at the users who are storing the largest amount of data. If those users are inactive, the solution is as easy as clearing them out of the system. If they’re uploading large amounts of data inadvertently — for instance, by syncing their shared drive to back up their desktop — it’s a matter of informing the user and making a change. And if there is something nefarious going on, such as a user selling storage space or the rare case of an unwanted user gaining access to the shared drive, those issues are easier to correct once they have been identified.
When storage was free, universities could be more relaxed about offering access to Google Workspace for Education and its wide array of tools. We’ve seen some institutions assign email addresses (and Google tools access) to applicants before they even enroll; others had no rules in place for what could or should be backed up to the shared drive.
Now, the threat of having to shell out large sums of money to buy more storage space has universities looking closely at these policies. A few best practices can have a big impact.
First, consider retention policies: Archival data is important in higher education because universities are required by law to keep some student data, and intellectual property developed by former users must be stored somewhere. In both of those cases, we would recommend looking for something more affordable than Google Drive.
With inactive users, the institution may want to continue providing access to email but should cut off access to collaboration tools and storage once the user has graduated or left the institution. Life planning for user accounts is imperative to keep data needs manageable.
The bottom line: Institutions need to set expectations for the use of Google Drive and create an acceptable use policy to support that. Laying out clearly what Google Workspace for Education should be used for is an exercise worth doing almost everywhere.
CDW Education Amplified services can help. Our higher education tools and experts can dive as deeply as you need to go to see what’s going on with Google Drive at your institution, and we can recommend policies to help you keep your storage requirements under control.
This article is part of EdTech: Focus on Higher Education’s UniversITy blog series.
Research & Trends
Global Trends and 'Preparing for the Future' Highlighted in First of Three Reports
Google for Education has released the first report from a massive, two-year study considering the role of education in a “radically different future,” and what that might look like.
Part 1 of Google’s Future of Education report focuses on big-picture themes seen as most likely to impact education and the future workforce in the coming years and decades.
Google for Education undertook the project to better understand the complexities and current challenges facing the education system post-pandemic, to better “position ourselves as not just thought leaders but as partners” for educators, Global Head of Education Impact Jennie Magiera told THE Journal. Magiera introduced the report and offered background in a recent blog post.
“With teachers and students coming back after COVID-19, there’s a lot of challenges to overcome, and there’s been an accelerated rate of technological innovation and adoption particularly in education,” Magiera said in an interview with THE Journal. “The classroom has changed drastically and very quickly in the past few years, and as we look toward this future that is radically different from the past 100 years, we’re asking ourselves, what should the role of education be, and how might that look?”
Parts two and three of the Future of Education project will be released in the coming months, said Magiera, who was a K–12 classroom teacher for a decade in New York City and Chicago before working as a district leader, a chief information officer, and as an advisor for the Obama administration’s ed tech planning efforts. Part two will focus on “evolving how we teach and learn” and part three will be about “reimagining the learning ecosystems and the spaces,” she said.
“These reports are not intended to say, ‘this is the exact roadmap of how to do this or what the future is,’” Magiera explained. “These are more about what we are hearing these thought leaders saying from around the world and coalescing around these points, and here's how Google sees our role in it, and here's some exemplars of how it's already happening.”
The report, “Preparing for a New Future,” covers three trends identified during the project research, wrote Google for Education Vice President Shantanu Sinha in the foreword. Those trends are:
Google for Education leaders partnered with researchers at Canvas8 and the nonprofit American Institutes for Research to find common threads and actionable principles among insights from 94 educational experts, two years of peer-reviewed academic literature, and an analysis of education media reports and narratives.
Each trend is explained in the context of exact and historical developments worldwide, in society at large and in economic and educational settings.
For example, the discussion of Trend 1, the “rising demand for global problem-solvers,” kicks off with the question “How can educators prepare tomorrow’s leaders to address global challenges?”
The report continues: “The issues of our day, such as equitable access to education, digital literacy, sustainability, and economic volatility, are only getting more complex. In order for today’s students — tomorrow’s leaders — to address these challenges on a global scale, the experts we spoke to expressed a need for both global mindsets and multidisciplinary skill sets. Specifically, they highlighted the role of educators in helping students become civic-minded, collaborative problem solvers. ”
Several “Ideas In Action” — specific examples of how schools, public agencies, and education nonprofits are addressing the needs of each trend — are offered throughout the discussions.
A Trend 1 Idea in Action, this one from Canada:
“Developing global mindsets: Belfountain Public School in Canada launched the Sustainable Future Schools pilot program in 2020, which allows students to align their course content and projects to one of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals for the duration of the school year. The program helps students Excellerate their global problem-solving skills through both independent and collaborative work. Students of the program experience improved learning outcomes, and gain the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary to create positive changes in their communities.”
The discussion of Trend 2 identified in the Future of Education report begins with the question: “In the age of automation, which skills will be in high demand?”
Noting the World Economic Forum projections that by 2025, “technological change may see 97 million new jobs created, while 85 million existing roles may disappear,” the report acknowledges that anticipating what skills are needed for jobs and tech that don’t exist yet is challenging at best, and statistical forecasting is slow, expensive, and not always accurate.
One Idea in Action offered, from Sweden , called “Using big data to map future skills ,” explains how the Swedish Public Employment Service’s JobTech Development initiative “uses AI to integrate previously siloed data sets (such as job advertisements and forecasts for future in-demand skills) from 500 different organizations into one place, providing a highly accurate, real-time forecast of the skills Sweden’s workforce needs in the future.”
Google for Education emphasizes the top five in-demand skills by 2025 listed by the World Economic Forum: