After high school, I left my common app blank and worked on the interdiction of black-market antiquities in EMEA; a problem for which success depended on people, not simply technology or public policy.
When I came back to the US, there were many ideas of what came next: if you do x, then you can do y. But I wanted to x for the sake of x. Because what was being built at x meant more than any possible promise of y. I saw this same belief in the best founders.
Why do I “invest?” In short, I don’t think I do. Or at least the word investment feels so thin and transactional in relation to the partnerships I seek. When everything hits the fan, problems are not solved by Delaware C-Corporations, but real people. People who care about their team and their vision for the future. It is these founders that I gravitate towards and with whom I look forward to building great things.
I grew up in a small town in upstate New York known for its long winters and significant snowfall. While my father was an engineer, he was a big fan of a liberal arts education and I headed off to Williams College where I majored in Political Economy. Post-college, I worked in corporate finance for 3 years splitting my time between the tech and m&a groups. In my spare time, I started seed investing and helped 3 startups raise their initial capital and scale into real companies. I became hooked on venture and went to Stanford to get my MBA, joining Matrix upon graduation.
Over the years at Matrix we have been very fortunate to have worked with the best technologists in the world, first here in the US and more recently in China and India. While a humbling experience, the process of helping founders shape an idea, and then launch and scale their company is very gratifying.
We understand our role well and that the heavy lifting is done by the people we back – starting companies isn’t easy. We are good listeners and don’t provide canned advice. Every company is different. We have extensive collective experience at Matrix that we all share, borne out of many successes and failures that help shape our POV and advice. While not cheerleaders – we want to discuss the important issues transparently – we are always supportive. We are committed to winning and work extremely hard to make that a reality. Your odds of success are better with us than with anyone else.
Many years of experience backing first-time founders (and many returnees) across business cycles (through good times and bad). More recently, while continuing to invest in the US, I have led our international efforts, recruiting our founding partners in China and India and overseeing our operations in Beijing, Shanghai, Mumbai and Bangalore. We have an extensive footprint in each geography and are well established with the best entrepreneurs and leading new companies.
Merrill Lynch Capital Markets
M&A, corporate finance
BA, Political Economy
Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude
Stanford Graduate School of Business
Prior to joining the firm, Phyllis held a variety of financial roles at five venture backed technology startups, where she also gained experience in the IPO and acquisition processes.
Most recently she held CFO positions at edocs and WebSpective Software. Prior to that she was with SolidWorks, Atria Software, and Epoch Systems. Both Atria and Epoch were successful Matrix Partners-backed companies. Before entering the start-up environment, Phyllis spent eight years at Prime Computer. She started her career as an auditor with Deloitte and Touche.
Director of Planning & Analysis
various financial roles
Deloitte & Touche
Paul Ferri is the founder of Matrix Partners, and one of the most respected investors in the venture capital industry. Like many of the entrepreneurs with whom he has worked over the years, Paul was born in another country and built his legacy from scratch, persevering through adverse conditions and making the best of the opportunity and luck that came his way.
Born in Rome, Italy, Paul immigrated to the U.S. at the age of seven. It was 1944, the height of World War II, and neither Paul nor anyone in his family spoke English. His family settled in Virginia where his father worked for the government as an aeronautics engineer. They ultimately moved to the suburbs of New York, where Paul grew up. Paul studied engineering at Cornell University and the Polytechnic Institute of New York, and business at Columbia University.
In 1977 Paul and Warren Hellman co-founded Hellman Ferri Investment Associates. The duo initially invested across multiple stages and in multiple sectors, and after five years Paul and Warren decided the best approach would be to develop distinct areas of expertise. Warren started a late stage private equity fund in San Francisco, which became Hellman & Friedman; Paul focused on early stage deals and established Matrix Partners in 1982.
Over the next few years, Paul began to direct the firm’s investments toward information technology start-ups. One of the most significant companies Paul supported was Cascade Communications. The company, founded by Desh Deshpande and run by Dan Smith, became an industry leader that spawned new innovations. The company sold to Ascend, which was later bought by Lucent. Cascade’s founders and employees went on to found some of the most significant companies of the era, including ArrowPoint, Sonus Networks and Sycamore Networks—all of which were Matrix portfolio companies.
Paul has led more than twenty portfolio companies to the public markets, and another twenty to profitable acquisitions. He continues to invest on behalf of the firm and guide his entrepreneurs through the ups and downs of start-up life on the path to success.
B.S. Electrical Engineering
Polytechnic Institute of New York
M.S. Electrical Engineering
I’ve always seen the world through an entrepreneurial lens. When I was 11, I started biking around a neighborhood in Sweden selling our national tabloid, Expressen. Every weekend morning (and Christmas), I skidded through the snow with a 20-pound messenger bag full of newspapers slung over my shoulder. I’d hurry to try to sell out before my fingers turned purple. I failed often, getting an early introduction to the rejection-induced emotional rollercoaster so familiar to founders.
In summer, a friend and I operated a makeshift ferry shuttle service on a 4-horsepower inflatable rubber dinghy. We undercut the competition, a 200-passenger ship that had a monopoly, by 15 Swedish crowns, ~$2. Eventually, the police mailed warnings to all the residents of the island we serviced. Hiring unlicensed dinghy captains, they cautioned, was inherently risky. This killed our business. The experience did, however, spark an appetite for the potential to disrupt regulation-backed incumbents.
I was lucky enough to get a scholarship to go to college in the U.S. After two years I dropped out to help start a company called Verbling, a marketplace for live, online foreign language lessons with pre-vetted teachers. During my time there, we went through Y Combinator, raised $4.4 million in venture capital, helped millions of people learn a language, and created a sustainable business. I’m most proud of the thousands of jobs we created for foreign language teachers.
In 2011 when we were first starting Verbling, there was a bit of a sense in the founder community that VCs were ‘the enemy’. Or at best a necessary evil. Looking back, this was ludicrous. Forming a board with no-nonsense, no-ego directors who had encountered problems similar to ours a hundred times before was a crucial help for me as a first-time founder. The psychological as well as strategic support made things easier. Eventually, that experience helped me realize I want to dedicate myself to supporting other founders full-time. I’m grateful to those who’ve let me hang around the hoop as an investor and advisor.
Prior to joining Matrix, Scott served in various recruiting capacities at eBay & PayPal for more than five years. In his most recent role, Scott built and managed eBay’s Center of Excellence for Executive Search.
Additionally, he was responsible for leading a team of in-house executive search consultants with global responsibility for setting strategies to address the most critical leadership (SVP, VP, & Director) roles across eBay, Inc. (PayPal, eBay Marketplaces, Classifieds, and Global Functions).
PayPal, Inc., an eBay Company
Senior Manager, Executive Search
Manager, Talent Research and Executive Search
San Jose State University
My whole life I have been interested in how things work.
As a kid, I would constantly take things apart and put them back together just to see what makes them tick. Taking apart lego scenes gradually morphed into taking apart computers. One thing led to another and by 5th grade, I was the go-to computer nerd of my home town outside of Philadelphia helping travel agencies and realtors adapt their businesses to this new thing called the internet.
Fast forward a few years, I made my way through undergrad and grad school at Carnegie Mellon, spending time doing a mix of design, coding, psychology, and business. I really liked being a jack of all trades/master of none because it meant I was constantly learning. When it was time to get a job, I did what all bad designers and developers do. I became a PM 🙂
After a few years at Microsoft, I was fortunate to join the team at Twilio in 2011 leading the SMS product. Going from a 100,000 person organization to a small team of a few dozen people was quite a shock. While there, I witnessed the dramatic impact everyday decisions had on the company, both for better or worse. When a company doubles every 6 months, learning happens much more rapidly and everyone is forced to wear different hats. While there were plenty of ups and downs along the way, it was clear I wanted to be spending my waking hours helping build teams and go after “just crazy enough to work” ideas.
I am still the same curious person I was as a kid. After 7 years at Twilio, I was looking for a way to expand my learning to a more diverse set of topics. I believe progress is generally non-linear. Fundamental changes happen and then rapid progress follows. I am interested in these non-linearities, in founders and ideas that are not making incremental progress on top of an existing path but rather ideas and approaches that buck the status quo. The more contrarian the idea, the better. I also love building. Having built products and teams myself, I understand what it takes and the challenges encountered along the way. Building, especially in a hypergrowth environment, requires regularly re-inventing yourself to deal with the next level of scale or the next customer problem or the next organizational challenge. I’m eager to put my past experiences to work with future founders.
Venture investing fuels my innate curiosity and allows me to continue to learn from others. I am interested in what you are building, why it matters, who is going to use it and how the world will be different. I want to learn from your unique perspective and distinct approach.
Carnegie Mellon University
B.S., Cognitive Science, Human-Computer Interaction
Carnegie Mellon University
Masters in Human-Computer Interaction
Prior to joining Matrix Partners, Erin held positions in and around venture capital and private equity in the Boston area since 2006.
Erin’s most recent experience was manager of the outsourced fund administration practice for Q-Biz Solutions (acquired by Dynamo Software) where she oversaw a team of fund accountants servicing 17 clients with approximately $8B AUM. Prior to that, Erin held positions with several venture capital or private equity firms in the Boston area, including Greylock and THL Credit. Erin started her career as an auditor in the technology practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Q-Biz Solutions/Dynamo Software
Manager of Outsourced Fund Administration
Cue Ball Capital
VP of Finance
Director of Finance
I was born in Gdansk, a shipbuilding city in the north of Poland. When my family emigrated to the United States in 1982 I didn’t speak the language. The teachers introduced me to a Commodore PET and I found writing simple programs to be a terrific escape from the strange language and culture waiting in the classroom.
My first real tech job was designing test logic for microchips. It was a compulsory lesson in getting the architecture right. On the other hand, programming had previously taught me how important it is to just get going and repeatedly tweak things to get to the final answer. Both lessons, opposite in many ways, apply to company building as well as engineering. And, are a good example of how great it would be if technical folks, who have all learned them, could run the world.
The best part of being an investor is working with those unique individuals willing to take the plunge and start a company. Quitting your job to go all in on something that’s completely ephemeral, with no team, no money, friends telling you that you’re crazy — that takes a lot of guts. Having the skills to turn that idea into something real is extremely rare. Entrepreneurs are anomalies; ones that drive the economy.
Because I focus on the more technical investments, the particular entrepreneurs I back are brilliant technologists building cool stuff. Stuff no one has done before, that may or may not sell, and may or may not even work. Those entrepreneurs and I have together bet on “impossible” markets (Acacia), “impossible” technologies (Xtalic), and “impossible” customers (QPID). Sometimes the ideas truly are infeasible and it doesn’t work out. But when we ask the right questions along the way, manage the inevitable ups and downs, and all put in the requisite effort, remarkably frequently it does. And there is no better rush than working with someone to take a new, often complex, tech idea – which I’m constantly being blown away by – and getting through all the real world issues to turn it into a reality. For me it’s my small chance to make the world a better place.
McKinsey & Co.
Consultant in Electronics Practice
B.S., Electrical Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
M.S., Electrical Engineering, M.S. Operations Research
Harvard Business School
M.B.A., Baker Scholar
In 2005 I started a company called Tabblo that Matrix backed and which we sold to HP where I became one of their CTOs. That exit culminated a fifteen year run in startups where I’d begun as an engineer at the beginning of the web and was fortunate enough to manage teams in engineering and product through three companies. So for my first time at the helm, it was important to me to partner with folks at Matrix who could make a CEO out of me.
When I came to the US for school from Venezuela, my entire picture of American culture was framed between Star Wars and the Apple II. Imagine what an amazing surprise it was to learn that I could do entrepreneurship and technology in one career. Up until that point all of the entrepreneurs in my family had done basic staples like food, soap or beer and it took them decades to get to where the world’s greatest lever — technology — could get equally hard working entrepreneurs in just a few years here in the US. Once I figured that out, I was hooked.
When William Gibson wrote that the “future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed” he surely didn’t know about the great hack to that problem that is early stage investing. Every day I meet with founders who are pulling that future forward towards the rest of us and it’s been both an honor and a pleasure to invest in some of them: from intelligent machines (Echo Nest) to personal fabricators (Markforged), from the holodeck (Oculus) to telepresence (Owl Labs) to name just a few.
Services and hardware are turning into software and software is leverage in its purest form — be it for single users or large companies. I’ve spent enough time thinking about this both prior to and during my time in venture that helping founders build companies feels like a great way to pay back for the front seat to the future. And, to provide for other founders what Matrix did for me during my time in the arena.
To that end, one of my favorite insights on how to help as an investor comes from our founding partner, Paul Ferri. He taught me the key to being effective in the boardroom is realizing you’re not there to outsmart everyone — but to help during the few critical moments when, whether through experience or because of what you’ve learned from the privilege of being on the board, you can give entrepreneurs just a bit more leverage on what stands between them and the future they are trying to create.
Founder & CEO
The Boston Consulting Group
AB Phi Beta Kappa
David Skok joined Matrix Partners as a General Partner in May 2001. He has a wealth of experience running companies. David started his first company in 1977 at age 22. Since then David has founded a total of four separate companies and performed one turn-around. Three of these companies went public.
David joined Matrix from SilverStream Software, which he founded in June 1996. Prior to its July 2002 acquisition by Novell, SilverStream was a public company that had reached a revenue run rate in excess of $100M, with approximately 800 employees and offices in more than 20 countries around the world.
David is best known for his blog, www.forEntrepreneurs.com, which covers topics such as how to successfully navigate the three phases of a startup, SaaS metrics, how to design and build a repeatable, scalable and profitable growth machine, etc. The blog has been rated #1 website for entrepreneurs by Inc. magazine and #2 by Forbes.
David’s work as a value added investor is best known for helping HubSpot, JBoss, AppIQ, Tabblo, Netezza, Diligent Technologies, CloudSwitch, TribeHR, GrabCAD, OpenSpan, Enservio and Conductor to successful exits. David currently serves on the boards of Atomist, Apollo GraphQL, CloudBees, Namely, Salsify, and Zaius.
In addition to his broad focus on enterprise software, David is specifically focused on the areas of SaaS (software as a service), Infrastructure software, and Open Source.
Founder and CEO
Founder and CEO
Founder and CEO
Founder and CEO
University of Sussex, England
B.Sc., Computer Science, graduated at the top of his class
Awarded prize for best degree by IEEE
Dana Stalder knows what it takes to turn a scrappy start-up into a strong, independent company. Dana has managed nimble ventures as well as 2,500-person teams. He has sat on both sides of the table in acquisition talks and sold to consumers, small businesses and Fortune 500 companies alike. His experience cuts across multiple disciplines including sales, marketing, finance, technology and product management at companies such as eBay, Netscape and PayPal.
“My goal each day is to help entrepreneurs get where they want to go. I have been in their shoes, struggling to launch new businesses, and I have scaled high-growth public companies,” he says. “I am passionate about identifying future leaders and helping them develop and use their individual talents to make a lasting impact.”
Dana was born and raised in Silicon Valley, and studied business and economics at Santa Clara University. After college he worked at Ernst & Young advising technology companies such as Quantum, Sun Microsystems, Remedy, Netscape, and Intuit.
In 1994 he left to help build Netscape, then a nascent, few-month-old, pre-revenue company defining the ways in which consumers and enterprises were going to use the Internet. In his four-year tenure, Dana held several executive positions in finance, sales and operations.
Dana left Netscape after its sale to AOL in 1998 and became a member of the founding team of Respond.com, an early pioneer in online lead generation. There, he served as the company’s Vice President of Business Development and Chief Financial Officer.
Dana joined eBay in 2001. As Vice President of Internet Marketing, Dana managed the company’s global customer acquisition strategy and a hundred million-dollar Internet marketing budget. Dana was also responsible for eBay’s Strategic Partnership Group, which generated several hundred million in revenue from third party partnerships and media sales.
In 2004 Dana joined PayPal, where he managed all business operations, including product, sales, marketing and, eventually, technology. Dana started PayPal’s international business from scratch, and led PayPal’s expansion beyond the eBay platform onto other online retail sites. He also initiated a number of other startup projects, including PayPal Mobile and the PayPal Developer Platform.
Dana left PayPal in 2008 to join Matrix Partners, where he invests predominantly in FinTech, Consumer Marketplaces, and Enterprise Software.
Senior Vice President of Product, Sales, Marketing and Technology
Vice President of Internet Marketing and Strategic Partnerships
Founding executive team, Vice President of Business Development & Chief Financial Officer
Vice President of Finance and Vice President of Operations, Sales & Service
Santa Clara University
My parents left the Soviet Union in search of a better life when I was very young. In San Francisco, they started out cleaning and painting homes. Today they’re entrepreneurs — they both code more than I do.
I grew up on early versions of the internet, hacking together my own games and sharing them on IRC. Nothing beats tinkering and building something for your friends.
I’m glad I didn’t take the cushy corporate job right out of school. My first two startup experiences worked out well enough but success was hard won — layoffs, pivots, failures, and painful fundraises during the 2008 crash. I learned far more than I would’ve on a smooth ride.
At Parse, we set out to change how developers built apps — reaching millions of developers and powering hundreds of thousands of apps. From writing the first lines of code, managing the acquisition to leading the team as a semi-autonomous unit inside Facebook, it was both hard and great.
I led all of Facebook’s developer products including early efforts to build a developer platform in Messenger. It was a big change. Product-market fit and scale trump all. Facebook focuses on only a few important things and re-evaluates methodically — which is a huge advantage.
Investing at Matrix is my way to continue building. From building startups to angel investing to working at Y Combinator, I’ve fallen hard for the gritty work of the early days.
The best startup ideas come from an obsession with fixing personal pain points. Even so, it takes exceptionally rare drive to choose the hard path and will something into existence from nothing.
The best thing about being a Founder-CEO is the privilege of leading a team that takes on your vision and mission as their own.
The hardest thing about being a Founder-CEO is managing your own psychology. You have to get comfortable with being very uncomfortable. You have to discount the daily blips. Internalize them, swallow them and steamroll through.
Tell me your war stories and I’ll tell you mine. I want to sympathize, offer guidance and suggestions. I care and will be there, no matter what.
B.S., Computer Science, Operations Research and Information Engineering
M.Eng., Computer Science
After graduate school, I came west to work in the Microprocessor Group at Intel during the dawn of the PC industry. The environment was intense as we raced to expand the market, but it was a great proving ground where I developed my management skills.
From there I moved to 3Com, just as companies were beginning to build corporate networks. I had the opportunity to recruit a team, help define and launch new products that propelled us to become the clear market leader. As we scaled the business it became the revenue and profit engine for the company.
One of Matrix’s strongest assets as a firm is its long history. It’s ingrained in our culture to analyze our successes and failures as a team to make sure entrepreneurs can benefit from our extensive collective experience.
We invest in people, not companies. We strive hard to build mutual trust and respect with founders, otherwise we can’t help them.
Founders are navigating uncharted waters. We’re here to assist and advise, but they are on the front line. We help to recruit great talent, provide perspective, and avoid mistakes we’ve witnessed at other companies.
At board meetings, I mostly listen — I only comment on a few things I consider really important. I’m not there as a decision maker, but as a coach and mentor. Ultimately, the CEO has to decide what to do.
Vice President of Marketing and GM, network adapters and hubs. Started new division, which grew to revenues of more than $250 million.
Product Manager for the 8086 microprocessor and Strategic Planning Manager for high-integration microprocessors.
BS and MEng Electrical Engineering, MBA