"The team comes first; if you get that wrong, you’re done."
Which investment categories excite you most and why?
I made my first cybersecurity investment in 2004 when the space was somewhat nascent. It was opportunistic, not prescient. I thought it was going to be a good investment; I didn’t know that the whole space would explode. Since then, the digitization of commerce and our personal lives has grown exponentially, and so have the associated risks. An extraordinarily robust entrepreneurial ecosystem has arisen to meet this rapidly changing threat landscape. I spend a lot of time with MassMutual’s internal cyber security team, with other investors in the space and with early-stage companies focused on large market opportunities within cyber.
What inspires you about venture capital?
I like to learn. VC is one of the rare professions that requires continuous learning: new technologies, new markets, new problems, new opportunities. And more than other areas of finance it is about people. The team comes first; if you get that wrong, you’re done. I love that combination of intellectual challenge and personal connection.
Podcast or publication?
I’m an old-school consumer of information. I read the WSJ, NYTimes, Washington Post, and newspapers from other countries as well as a stream of daily emails about venture capital deals and cyber security news. When I do listen to podcasts they usually have nothing to do with work.
In another life, if you weren’t in venture capital, what would you be?
I’m a lapsed philosopher. I still read a lot (philosophy, literature, poetry), and write from time to time. Although part of me enjoys the solitude of a library, another part needs to be engaged in the public realm. If I weren’t a VC, I might be a journalist, public intellectual or even a politician.
Fun fact about yourself?
During the 2008 presidential election I participated in two public debates on behalf of the Obama campaign. In one I debated a conservative columnist; in the other, McCain’s Massachusetts campaign Co-Chair, a state senator.