March 20, 2021
Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Hello and welcome to Pipeline! This week: VC reopening plans, responding to the Atlanta violence and demystifying what an associate does.
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In Silicon Valley, after a year of lockdowns, venture firms are cautiously optimistic about soon reopening their offices — though they may come back to a different location or office set-up.
Venture firms are quietly discussing these plans. Some are looking at July 4 or Labor Day as targets or goals for gradual re-openings — assuming the vaccine rollout continues to gain momentum. (More than 20% of California's population has received at least one dose, according to CDC data.)
There are a lot of caveats. Most firms' plans are still in the early stages.
Why not just wait? Investors want to meet founders face to face. Venture investments are years-long relationships, after all.
Sand Hill Road doesn't have the same allure. The stretch of office parks near Stanford University in Menlo Park once provided one-stop shopping for founders marketing deals. But its centrality was already eroding before the pandemic.
Much depends on the course of the pandemic. No re-openings will happen until local rules allow it.
Questions linger. As health orders are lifted, work culture will take a central role. Will founders and fellow investors want to meet in person? Or will the convenience of reviewing decks on Zoom — and the opportunity to invest without regard to geography — prevail?
Protocol's Joe Williams sits down with Honeywell CEO Darius Adamczyk for a discussion on his influential leadership of the industrial icon and what's next in the company's digital overhaul.
Pascale Diaine is a partner at Storm Ventures, which raised a $150 million fund in 2019. Previously, she founded Orange Fab, an accelerator for the European telecommunications firm Orange, which had companies including Talkdesk, Wonolo and Rallyteam. She invests in sales and marketing automation, AI/ML, computer vision and retail tech. Her investments include Sendoso, InEvent, German Bionic, Cloudwords and Passage AI, which was acquired by ServiceNow.
What are your partners most talking about at your Monday partner meeting?
The mixed (read: crazy) market environment we currently live in. Valuations are out of control even for companies that haven't yet found product-market fit and a repeatable sale process. We have never seen so many series A rounds reaching $20 million-plus and pushing pre-money valuations north of $80 to $100 million. It wasn't too long ago that series A rounds would average $3 million to $6 million for companies with revenues accelerating across $1 million in ARR. But these are becoming more of an exception than the norm.
What's a secret obsession of yours that most people don't know about?
I am totally obsessed with beach volleyball, I play as much as I can. It is a fantastic workout that isn't too hard on the body thanks to the sand. The mental part is fascinating. It includes trust (in your partner), ability to move on (after a bad action), resilience (if you are led by many points but still fight hard to come back), discipline (you gotta be in shape to move in that sand!!).
What is your favorite pandemic food?
Takeout: sushi; cooking: peanut butter sandwich. I really envy people who are able to find the time to make their own bread during the pandemic. I barely have enough time to shower every day. Oh wait, they probably don't have a 2-year-old toddler running around!
What company, outside of your portfolio, have you been most impressed to watch this year?
DoorDash: Even pre-pandemic and after losing $667 million in 2019, Doordash had already planned to go public in 2020. The COVID crisis obviously skyrocketed the demand for food delivery and they managed to reach a $55 billion-plus valuation on the public market.
Now that we seem to have a line of sight on the post-COVID world, we may wonder what will happen to the stock price when everybody rushes back out to restaurants to make up for the lack of dine-in experiences during the past 12 months.
What company or startup sector is the most underrated right now?
Air travel and hospitality — as the world gets vaccinated and gathering and traveling restrictions get lifted, everybody is going to run to book vacations and flights to make up for the year-long lockdown and to reconnect with friends and family. The travel and hospitality space is going to blow up within the next 10 to 18 months.
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