We have worked with a lot of VC’s and Josh Hannah is in an entirely different league. Josh thinks about things more as a guy running a company than a typical VC. This means a lot when you consider his experiences as a successful entrepreneur. He knows what he’s doing, knows our space, and serves as an outstanding mentor. We couldn’t ask for a better partner as we build our business.
Josh Hannah has been fortunate to make a career of founding and building companies and helping other entrepreneurs navigate the challenges of start-up life. Whether re-thinking wagering or buying a bankrupt digital media asset, Josh has demonstrated an ability to recognize unmet, even unpopular, needs in the marketplace and build strong businesses to address them.
Josh’s career as an entrepreneur began with the unconventional idea of turning sports wagering into an efficient financial transaction by using an online exchange to execute bets. In 1999, he co-founded Betfair.com and revolutionized the gaming industry by building the world’s first online marketplace for sports betting.
Today, Betfair is publicly-traded on the London Stock Exchange (BET.L) and manages more than $50 billion in transactions each year, is licensed in the UK and Australia, and operates legally in dozens of countries around the globe. Josh played a myriad of roles in the evolution of the company, from CEO during the start-up and chaotic early years, to hiring the right chief executive for the company’s growth phase, which included building a team of more than 1,000 employees around the globe.
Josh returned to the States in 2004, and served as an EIR at Benchmark Capital. Soon after, he and a partner purchased eHow, an ailing, Web 1.0, how-to directory. “When I told people what I was doing, they thought I was crazy. Conventional wisdom said content was dead, and there was no way to make money on it. We had a different view. In my experience, the foundation of a great business depends on having a different idea from conventional wisdom and pursuing it in spite of a skeptical market.” says Josh.
Josh and his partner restructured eHow by outsourcing content creation to the community and employing then-new advertising and search engine optimization techniques. In six weeks, they had earned enough from advertising to pay off the cost of the purchase. They increased revenue and traffic 30-fold before selling the company to Demand Media in 2006 for a 400X return.
Josh joined Matrix Partners as a general partner in early 2009, and has invested in Huddle, Huddler, Inflection, JustFabulous, Klip, Koding, Quora and Taulia. He is looking to invest in entrepreneurs who are product and usability-obsessed and driven to create a magical customer experience. He is most excited about working with companies that make bold flanking attacks on big markets through vulnerable niches, and empower their customers.
When he’s not working with entrepreneurs or spending time with his young family, Josh can be found snowboarding at Sugar Bowl, cycling in the Oakland hills or playing basketball. Though he’s an alumnus of both Stanford and Cal, Josh proudly bleeds blue and gold.
Josh is very good at taking a good idea and turning it into a large-scale business. He is highly intelligent and cuts to the core of the issue very quickly. He knows what works and what doesn’t work, and I trust his judgment. He also has a great affinity and empathy for technology and its application. If I were starting another technology business tomorrow, I would try to get him involved.
Edward Wray, Founder, Betfair
Josh Hannah just gets it. He knows how to spot a growth opportunity and rapidly scale without losing control of what makes a company great. We always take away valuable, practical lessons from Josh. He’s hands on, dedicated, and accessible. We could not have picked a better VC partner for our business.
Matthew Monahan, Inflection Co-founder and CEO
Josh has successfully built leading Web businesses and has pulled all the levers himself, so he understands the limitations and the challenges of SEO, SEM and other online tools, as well as how to prioritize your time as CEO. He understands the tradeoffs an entrepreneur makes every day in a resource-constrained and competitive environment. It's impossible to overstate the value of having someone on your board who has walked in your shoes.
Mariam Naficy, Founder and CEO, Minted.com
Areas of Interest
Web marketplaces, online and offline gambling, innovative online retail models, online media and publishing, mobile content and commerce, SaaS
Betfair: Co-founder (originally Flutter.com)
Bain & Co.: Consultant
University of California, Berkeley, BA, Economics, Phi Beta Kappa
Stanford Graduate School of Business, MBA, Arjay Miller Scholar