Welcome to our Member Spotlight series where we give a profile overview of our many diverse members. For this deep dive, we spoke to Navin Chaddha, Managing Director at Mayfield.
Tell us about your firm. What makes it different?
Mayfield is a top-tier venture capital firm with a 50 year history of success. We have invested in over 500 companies and have been involved in 117 IPOs (with Lyft being the latest one) plus over 200 mergers and acquisitions. We focus on early-stage investing and are guided by our people-first philosophy. What that means is that we focus on the entrepreneur first, followed by technology and market, as we believe that great people will build lasting companies.
Where did your firm’s name come from?
Our name refers to a once-thriving but now forgotten township at the border of Stanford University, which was annexed by Palo Alto. There are a few remaining vestiges including Mayfield Avenue on the Stanford campus and Mayfield Bakery in Palo Alto. Our founder Tommy Davis had deep roots to Stanford, so he named the firm after the town.
What defines your portfolio?
We invest at the early stages with entrepreneurs who are bold and dream big. Some areas of current focus based on a Cloud-native, Mobile-first, Socially-enabled, SaaS-based and Data-driven world include:
- The renaissance of silicon;
- Biology as technology;
- Human-centered AI;
- Hacker-proof security;
- Decentralized computing;
- Systems of engagement and intelligence;
- Alternative interfaces;
- Emerging tech.
How is the firm different today than when you first started?
People-first is part of our DNA – in fact, our founder always said that “people make products, products don’t make people,” and that is still our core belief. Another core value that has endured is our team-based approach to investing, as entrepreneurs have access to a second investor who is part of the core team on every investment, as well as to others on the team whose expertise matches their needs. Three new elements of today include that we have insititutionalized our learnings to expedite the integration of new team members, nurtured a culture of continuous re-invention so that we can stay nimble, and added world-class portfolio services as entrepreneurs expect (and deserve) more than capital from venture capitalists.
Why is your firm a part of NVCA?
We believe that the NVCA is a very able advocate for our industry’s interests and that the vibrant community you have built is very valuable.
Tell us about the current VC landscape in your geography/region.
We primarily invest in the Bay Area with a few investments in Seattle, New York and a couple of other places out of our US fund. We have a dedicated fund to invest in India. I believe that our industry is overcapitalized, that fund sizes have grown too big, and that the decline in early-stage investing is not a good sign. The data has shown that investors who partner with entrepreneurs early, get a sizable ownership stake, and invest out of sub-$500 million funds have delivered the best returns. This has been our strategy over the last decade and it has resulted in our ability to deliver top-decile returns to our limited partners.
What’s ahead for your firm in 2019?
We just celebrated our 50th anniversary and are proud to have been associated with scores of gamechanger entrepreneurs. We have assembled a team of eight investors, with entrepreneurial as well as operating experience, who invest in enterprise, healthIT/genomics and consumer-facing companies. Many of our companies have become category leaders (and some are valued as unicorns) including sustainable e-commerce company Grove Collaborative, cloud infrastructure automation provider HashiCorp, sales engagement platform Outreach and social commerce marketplace Poshmark. We look forward to continuing to partner with great entrepreneurs who will build iconic companies and expanding our presence in San Francisco, where we’ve just opened up a new office. We’re just getting started.
Describe your firm’s culture in 5 words or less.
- People First
- Global DNA
- Continuous Learning
Here is a link to our beliefs.
Cassie Ann Hodges serves as Director of Communications at NVCA where she leads NVCA’s strategic communications, branding and content development, and media efforts to better support and empower the venture community, startups, and entrepreneurs. She also oversees the NVCA StratComm Peer Group network and programming.