Venture Unlocked
Venture Unlocked: The playbook for venture capital managers
Paul Kwan of General Catalyst on the importance of innovation in creating global resilience

Paul Kwan of General Catalyst on the importance of innovation in creating global resilience

Episode 118

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Follow me @samirkaji for my thoughts on the venture market, with a focus on the continued evolution of the VC landscape.

We're excited to welcome Paul Kwan, Managing Director at General Catalyst (GC). Established in 2000, the firm currently has just under $25 billion in assets under management. GC has made a significant mark in the venture capital landscape, funding dynamic technology and life science startups including Stripe, Coinbase, Livongo, Samsara, and Gusto.

Paul is at the helm of GC's Global Resilience team, concentrating on upgrading key societal infrastructures in the defense, intelligence, and industrial sectors. Before his tenure at GC, Paul had an impressive 22-year career at Morgan Stanley, where his roles included leading the global internet and software business and the West Coast team.

Our conversation delves into the importance of mission-driven approaches and robust corporate cultures in building enduring enterprises, GC's internal strategies in these areas, and Paul's insights on the potential exit scenarios for private companies in the coming year. We hope you find this episode insightful. Let's dive in!

About Paul Kwan:
Paul Kwan is Managing Director at General Catalyst (GC), where he leads the Global Resilience team, focusing on enhancing critical societal systems in areas like defense, intelligence, and energy. His investments include companies such as Anduril and Samsara.

Paul started on Wall Street during the early days of the internet, later moving to Morgan Stanley’s Menlo Park office. He spent 22 years there, gaining expertise in various roles including leading the bank’s global internet and software business and the West Coast team. He studied computer science at Stanford University.

In this episode, we discuss:

(02:05) Paul's tech journey
(03:23) The value of working across multiple sectors and global experiences
(05:19) Sustained value creation in tech and the evolving inputs to value creation, including technology, business models, and people
(08:30) The importance of company culture in investment decisions and how it ties to performance
(10:09) Establishing culture early in a company's journey
(12:51) GC's mission of investing in powerful, positive change, and the concept of responsible innovation
(14:54) How the changing geopolitical landscape affects investment strategies and the necessity for more resilient systems
(18:18) The rise of private-to-private M&A and its potential impacts
(22:21) Challenges of merging company cultures
(26:50) Investment strategies and the IPO market
(31:00) The trend of VCs holding public securities post-IPO and how it aligns with long-term value creation
(34:41) Evolution of Venture Capital
(36:53) The importance of building and maintaining long-term relationships in the tech industry

I’d love to know what you took away from this conversation with Paul. Follow me @SamirKaji and give me your insights and questions with the hashtag #ventureunlocked. If you’d like to be considered as a guest or have someone you’d like to hear from (GP or LP), drop me a direct message on Twitter.

Podcast Production support provided by Agent Bee