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.

Trello + Atlassian

Over the weekend, the Trello board signed a merger agreement with Atlassian. The deal was announced earlier this morning. It’s an exciting moment for both companies.

It wasn’t very long ago when we invested in the first and only round of capital at Trello. My partners and I were blown away using Trello and we were already big fans of cofounders Michael and Joel — as Spark is also investors in their other company Stack Overflow. I wrote up my thoughts at the time here

In less than three years, the team at Trello created a very special company. A company focused on building beautiful products, a fantastic culture and true operational excellence.  

It has been my absolute pleasure to serve on the Trello board. Thank you Michael and Joel and the rest of the Trello team. And congratulations.

Hallway Chat, Episode #22

Yesterday, Nabeel and I recorded another episode of our podcast.

Show notes:

-Responded to questions by Hallway Chat listeners/friends Semil and Steve Kane

-How do we work with founders “after we write the check”
-Impact of social media in politics

-Perils of optimizing for valuations
-Upfront Summit & thoughts on current state of the market
-Andy Rubin’s new AI initiative & the future of VCs

As always, thanks so much for listening and send us your questions and feedback.


Nabeel and I recorded episode 20th of our podcast, Hallway Chat yesterday. Stuff we talked about (not necessarily in this order):

-hardware startups

-Apple Watch, iPad Pro

-Are we overdue for a hot new mobile app, Peach, Snapchat

-VC blogs, why we haven’t been writing more and new years resolutions

-our tech habits while traveling on vacation

-As our firm grows, we chat a bit about internal changes and evolution

Please let us know if you have feedback, topic suggestions or questions that we should address in future shows. We would love to hear from you. Leave us your thoughts in the comments or tweet us. Thanks! 

Introducing our new partner, Kevin Thau

We have exciting news at Spark Capital and I am delighted to share it with you.

Today we are announcing Kevin Thau is joining us as a General Partner based in our new office in San Francisco. His professional bio is on our website here.

My partners and I have known Kevin for nearly 10 years, having served on a board of directors at one of Kevin’s companies for pretty much the entire time we have been in business at Spark. In many ways we grew up together in this business. We know each other, work well together and have the highest regard for his character.

I remember when Ev decided to turn off SMS delivery at Twitter back in 2008 because we were paying for every tweet on a variety of mobile carriers. The costs were mounting. It was a painful decision but the right call. Kevin joined a few months later and successfully constructed strategic partnerships with mobile operators so we didn’t have to bear those costs. He continued to lead critically important work at Twitter including a special partnership with Apple that led to integration with iOS. Over the next five years as the company went from 20 employees to thousands, Kevin headed up mobile products, business and corporate development.

We have seen Kevin first hand collaborating with the world’s best founders helping them build and scale their companies and accomplish extraordinary things. We love his passion for new ideas, new products and new technology. We are also grateful for his friendship and trust.

I am over the moon he is joining the team. Please welcome our new partner, Kevin.


Sometime during the month of May I get this call from my friend Julia LeStage. Julia tells me I need to meet these two founders that had taken a leave from Harvard Business School to work on their new startup called Alfred.

Julia insists that the founders are extraordinary so I happily take the meeting. 

I’m so glad I did. 

I knew at that first meeting Marcela and Jessica were special people — intelligent, creative, passionate and making things happen.

We spent more time together and by the summer we led a seed round in the company. Since then they have been busy building the team, building the business, and they won TC Disrupt.

The idea of Alfred is a simple and direct one but the execution is hard and complex. Alfred is a service that makes your household life easier and better. CNN has a nice description here. And I love this line from a recent Fast Company review of the service:

When I unlock the door, the scent of cleaning supplies overpowers the pot stench of the hallway. Gone are the garbage bags filled with clothes for Goodwill and laundry, and on my counter sits a plastic bag of avocados, a box of tea, and a carton of Almond milk (the cheese and salad are in the fridge). I am so over the weirdness of handing a stranger my keys. It feels like I’ve been visited by my errand fairy godmother.

Today, the company is launching in New York City and also the seed round we led along with our friends at SV Angel and Crunchfund. 

I am delighted to be in business with Marcela and Jessica. They are passionate about building a magical experience for their customers and having the highest respect for the actual Alfred’s on their platform.

If you live in NYC I hope you give Alfred a try.

Yesterday we hosted an event in San Francisco for all the founders in our portfolio. As investors we learn so much from the founders that we back every day and yesterday was an opportunity for them to help each other directly. 

I took this photograph of Bastian Lehmann at one of the breaks during the day. Bastian was checking out the latest version of Oculus called Crescent Bay which will blow your mind. (We are proud investors in Bastian’s company Postmates and were early investors in Oculus)

Thanks to all the founders that made time to participate at our collective event. We are grateful for all that you do.