Responding to a popular request, we are now sharing transcripts of our investor podcast interviews in this new series. The following interview with Patricia Nakache was recorded in March 2018.
Patricia Nakache, General Partner at Trinity Ventures, discusses the firm’s investment thesis and some issues encountered by women in technology.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to yourself as well as to Trinity. Tell us about the fund and what you guys have been doing.
Patricia Nakache: Trinity has a long and storied history. The fund was founded 30 years ago by a Jesuit named Noel Fenton who’s still a partner although semi-retired at this point. He founded Trinity 30 years ago. He had been the CEO of three venture-backed startups. He had interacted with a lots of venture capitalists over those years.
He had come to the point of view that he thought that he could improve on the venture model if you will – one that was built on the types of values that he really treasured as a venture-backed CEO. An important one is mutual respect for the entrepreneur. We are very a very collaborative firm both internally and externally. Lots of team work amongst the partners here. There are no silos within the partnerships. Also, we’re very collaborative with our entrepreneurs.
We really put an emphasis on forming the partnership with our entrepreneurs. We are currently investing Trinity 12. It’s a $400 million fund. We invest everywhere from seed stage to Series B. Our sweet spot is Series A. We invest across technology sectors. Our focus is early-stage North America technology. Within technology, there are quite a few different areas that we spend time on but broadly speaking, anything within technology would be within our purview.
Sramana Mitra: You have been in this industry for quite a long time and watched many of the cycles that we have gone through. Venture capital has changed. The technology industry has seen many different waves and trends. What is your current analysis? Give us a little bit of historical perspective as well as your current assessment of where things are, what are the changes, and how are you and Trinity thinking about those changes?
Patricia Nakache: I joined the venture world in the summer of 1999. That was almost at the peak of the dot-com bubble. I very quickly saw that market collapse. If you remember those days, there were various waves. There was the dot-com consumer bubble that collapsed. Then it was the B2B bubble. Then it was the telecom collapse. That was the huge collapse. The reason why that was particularly painful for a lot of investing entrepreneurs is, that was a very capital-intensive industry. Then we went through a fairly quiet period in the venture world.
In retrospect, it would have been a great time to invest. It was a good time to start a company in these lulls where there’s disillusionment. That’s a great time to think about starting a company because nobody else is really paying attention. In 2008, we had the housing crisis. That impacted funding activity, particularly in Silicon Valley. I would say that we may be peaked two years ago in terms of the froth. There’s still a lot of capital available. That’s the good news. Whereas two or three years ago, getting funding, particularly at the seed stage, was relatively easy.