Venture Capital Trends and Outlook
Jean-Francois “Jeff” Clavier is the Founder and Managing Partner of SoftTech VC, one of the original seed VC firms in Silicon Valley, having closed 175+ investments since 2004. An early angel investor in Web 2.0, Jeff and his team have backed successful startups like Mint (Intuit), Kongregate (GameStop), Brightroll (Yahoo), LiveRamp (Acxiom), Milo (eBay), Wildfire (Google), Bleacher Report (Turner), Gnip (Twitter), Fitbit (NYSE:FIT), Curse (Amazon), Eventbrite, Sendgrid, Poshmark, Hired, Postmates, Vungle, Shippo, Front and Molekule. The portfolio has also seen acquisitions by Groupon, Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo and AOL. The firm has $300M+ under management and is currently investing out of its $85M Fund IV, making on average 15 seed commitments of $850K per year in mobile/cloud saas, consumer services, connected devices, marketplaces and healthcare IT.
Born, raised and educated in France, Jeff graduated with a MS in Computer Science and a degree in Distributed Computing. He joined Effix, a financial services startup, as one of the initial developers while still at school and eventually led it as CTO. After 5 years, Reuters acquired the company and Jeff expanded his remit to several product and development organizations in Europe and the USA. In 2000, he moved to Silicon Valley as General Partner for RVC, the $450M venture fund affiliated with Reuters.
In 2004, Jeff left RVC to start SoftTech VC and invest in the early pioneers of Consumer Internet. Within a couple of years, he was being recognized in the media as one of the “super angels”, and in 2007, he subsequently raised one of the first micro-VC funds, $15M Fund II. After three years, and 60+ investments closed on his own, Jeff built a team and raised a larger, $55M Fund III that invested in 55 companies. In June 2014, the firm celebrated its 10-year anniversary, its move to San Francisco and the close of Fund IV. Two years later, the firm announced the closing of $150M across two funds, a $100M seed-focused Fund V and a $50M Plus fund that is making $3M to $5M investments in mature, existing portfolio companies.
Jeff was appointed on the board of the National Venture Capital Association in 2015, a 4-year mandate. He has also been on the Advisory Board of Telefonica Digital since 2010. In the SoftTech portfolio, he sits on the boards of Curse, Handshake, DroneDeploy, DocSend and a handful of stealth investments. He is mentioned also on the Forbes Midas List of top venture capitalists.
One of the early VC bloggers in 2004, Jeff is now a popular conference speaker and social media/TV commentator (and yes, he was early enough on Twitter to grab @jeff). When he is not spending time with SoftTech’s portfolio companies, Jeff enjoys traveling, skiing, scuba diving, collecting wine and hanging out with friends and family.
Omar Hamoui is a partner at Sequoia Capital, where he focuses on partnering with early stage companies. Prior to Sequoia, Omar founded and ran several companies in mobile software and services. At the time, he was frustrated by the lack of available options when it came to promoting and monetizing mobile products.
While working towards his MBA at the Wharton School, Omar began to think more seriously about the untapped potential of mobile advertising, and created AdMob to address this growing opportunity. Omar served as AdMob's CEO and a member of the company's board of directors from January 2006 through the company's acquisition by Google in May 2010.
Patricia Nakache is a General Partner at Trinity Ventures with over 15 years of experience in early stage technology investing. Patricia focuses on funding companies launching innovative online consumer and business services. She is particularly interested in the impact of mobile, machine learning, and crowd sourcing on the next generation of internet services.
Patricia has active investments in EATClub, Kixeye, Mayvenn, Owler, Ruby Ribbon, ThredUp and Turo. Her previous investments include Affinity Labs (acquired by Monster Worldwide), Care.com (CRCM), Loopnet (LOOP), MyNewPlace (acquired by RealPage), Sabrix (acquired by Thomson Reuters, TRI), and PayScale (acquired by Warburg Pincus).
Patricia is an M.B.A graduate from the Standford Graduate School of Business and holds her A.B. from Harvard University in Physics and Chemistry.
Aydin Senkut is the Founder and Managing Director of Felicis Ventures. An original “super-angel” investor, he was named to Forbes’ 2014, 2015 and 2016 Midas Lists, and previously appeared as one of the top 15 tech angels by Businessweek. In March 2016 he was named among the New York Times’ Top 20 Venture Capital Investors Worldwide. Aydin is well-known as an early backer of a number of iconic companies including Shopify (NYSE:SHOP), Fitbit (NYSE:FIT), Adyen, Diffbot, Greenhouse, Credit Karma, Rovio and Vicarious. Over 60 Felicis companies such as Brightroll, Climate Corp, Cruise, Dropcam, Twitch, and Meraki, have been acquired by industry leaders such as Google, Amazon, Cisco, Apple, Microsoft, General Motors, AT&T, Disney, Yahoo and Ebay.
His recent focus areas include consumerization of enterprise, next gen financial services, along with AI and machine learning.
Prior to starting Felicis Ventures, Aydin was a Senior Manager at Google, responsible for strategic partner development and account management in Asia Pacific (including Japan). Aydin joined Google in 1999 as its first Product Manager to launch Google’s first 10 international sites, its first online search licensing products and its first Safe Search. He then became the first International Sales Manager at Google, responsible for world-wide licensing deals. Before joining Google, Aydin was the Product Manager for Data Visualization and Data Mining software MineSet at SGI.
Aydin received a BS in Business Administration with Honors from Boston University. He also earned an MBA in Marketing from the Wharton School and an MA in International Studies from the School of Arts at the University of Pennsylvania. He speaks five languages: English, German, French, Portuguese and Turkish.
Aydin and his wife are Associate Founders of Singularity University, have backed bio-tech research at UCSF and sponsored a scholarship at the University of Pennsylvania.
Aydin has also been featured on Businessweek, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fortune, and Financial Times Germany.
Jason Calacanis is an angel investor in over 125 startups, including the first round of Uber. He is founder and CEO of Inside.com, a network of email newsletters covering topics from politics to technology to electric vehicles, & LAUNCH, which produces year-round events for founders, including the LAUNCH Festival, the largest startup conference in the world with 15,000 attendees. Since 2009, Mr. Calacanis has been the host of "This Week in Startups,” a groundbreaking twice weekly podcast on technology and entrepreneurship with 200,000+ listens and views per episode. Guests have included Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, Tim Ferriss, Esther Dyson, Chris Sacca, Kara Swisher, Travis Kalanick, and many more. Mr. Calacanis is known for his insights into the media and tech industries and appears regularly on CNBC's Squawk Alley. His thought-pieces can be read on calacanis.com.