Stepping back at Spark Capital

Seventeen years ago, my friend Santo told me he was going to start a new venture capital firm. It didn’t have a name just yet and he didn’t have a fund, but he had recruited Todd Dagres and Paul Conway and for some reason they asked me to join along.

My wife Lauren and I were living just outside of Boston with our two kids (with one more on the way!). I remember talking it over with her. At the time, We had moved back east after ten years in SF and I was missing the Bay Area. I had an offer from Apple that I was seriously contemplating. And, to be honest, I didn’t know if I would be a good investor or if I would even like the work. But, I loved the idea of helping start something from scratch with a group of friends and people I respected.

So in the fall of 2004, I said yes to Santo and Todd. A few weeks later we had our name and a few months after that our first fund. We were all working out of  a tiny space in Cambridge until we opened our office above a shoe store on Boston’s Newbury Street. And we have been there ever since (along with an expanded team with offices in NYC and SF).

We have done a lot together over these years. We raised six early stage funds and three growth funds and built a company that I adore. I cannot adequately describe the gratitude I feel towards the Spark team and entrepreneurs. Many have become dear friends. This nearly two-decade long journey has truly been something else.

But, it’s with a heavy heart that I say the one constant in life is change. Our current set of funds will be my last as a general partner at Spark. I will continue to be an active board member at several of our portfolio companies and a member of the Spark team.  But I’m stepping back nonetheless and will transition from being a Spark General Partner to a Spark Limited Partner in our future funds.

I’ve been thinking about what’s next. While I don’t have a fully baked set of plans, I do a few things on the list. Lauren and I are going to focus our philanthropy on economic inequality and education. I recently joined the Board of Trustees at Boston College (my alma mater). And I have been increasing my involvement in our nations politics and will continue to help the DNC where I can on the National Finance Committee and leaning into the DSCC’s work for the mid terms.

It also turns out I do love the work of an investor, so I will continue to do just that. But in this next phase, I plan to invest alongside Lauren with our own money. Initially we will invest in seed and Series A rounds with a focus on supporting founders pursuing the challenge of climate change.

And most of all, I want to spend more time with my wife and our three wonderful kids.

This all feels truly so bittersweet. I’m so excited about the future of Spark. Our team has never been stronger and it’s so hard to step back especially now when the opportunity is bigger and more interesting than ever.

I’m not sure how to end this post, but I did save the most important part for last, which is thank you! Thank you Lauren for supporting and believing in me. Thank you to Santo, Todd and the entire Spark team for bringing me on this epic journey. Thank you to the founders who allowed me to be a small part of their own mission, and thank you to our LPs, many of which have been with us since day one.

Each of you changed my life for the better and I am forever grateful.

February is often a time for personal reflection for me.

The new year is underway. Things get busy again. We often do some family traveling. This month we celebrate Valentine’s Day, my son’s birthday, our wedding anniversary and my birthday too.

When I turned 30, I was wistful about losing my 20’s and my youth. Someone once told me, “if you do it right, you won’t want my 20s back”.

And that is how I feel today. I don’t want them back. I’m grateful for these moments and these days.