Feb 9 • 46M

Union Square Ventures' Rebecca Kaden on their theme based investing approach, fund sizing for USV, and navigating hot markets

Episode 71

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Samir Kaji
Venture Unlocked is the playbook for starting, operating, & scaling a successful venture capital firm. Samir Kaji, Host of Venture Unlocked has +20-years of experience assisting & advising startups and venture firms. Listen for VC fund guidance.
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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.

This week we have Rebecca Kaden, General Partner at Union Square Ventures, who are with a doubt one of the very best venture firms in the world having backed companies such as Stripe, Twitter, Etsy, LendingClub, and Coinbase.

The firm is also very thesis and mission-driven, including investing in the future by addressing issues like the climate crisis. It was founded in 2003 by Fred Wilson and Brad Burnham and currently has $1.9B in AUM.

About Rebecca Kaden:
Rebecca Kaden is a managing partner at Union Square Ventures. She began her career as a journalist and prior to USV was a General Partner at Maveron, a consumer-focused early-stage fund. She studied English and American Literature at Harvard and received her MBA from Stanford.


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In this episode we discuss:

01:13 Rebecca’s journey to becoming a full-time investor from journalism

04:15 The skillsets that most translated from journalism to VC

06:08 The things she was most looking for when joining a VC firm.

08:45 Construction a true venture investment thesis

12:45 What thesis-driven investing means in practice, and the application for it when evaluating companies.

15:12 The primary benefits of having a defined thesis (but also why it must evolve)

18:55 How USV thinks about fund size in today’s market

22:09 Why adjusting fund size significantly upward was something they decided against

25:47 Why USV has decided to avoid the run faster, chase more mentality in today’s market

27:49 Why risk management is a critical, but underrated part of VC.

30:03 The adjustments that USV has made in response to the market climate in the last few years

33:19 What she thinks has made USV such a great firm over the last two decades

36:07 How Rebecca thinks about generational succession, and how to get it right

39:02 How USV avoids a deferential culture and how new partners find their voices

42:17 the most transformational career advice Rebecca has received

I’d love to know what you took away from this conversation with Rebecca. 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 Agency