Greylock is the newest prominent venture capital firm to add a female general partner to its investing ranks.
The Silicon Valley VC firm announced on Tuesday that it has promoted Sarah Guo to general partner, focusing enterprise software, security and healthcare investments.
Guo joined Greylock in 2013 on the recommendation of Workday CEO Aneel Bhusri, now an advisor at the firm, after she’d worked on that company’s IPO on behalf of Goldman Sachs. Guo represents Greylock as a board director at three startups – Obsidian Security and two still-unannounced investments.
“Sarah’s promotion is due to a combination of her intellect, her curiosity as a fast learner, her hustle and her strong commitment to winning,” says longtime general partner Asheem Chandna. “There’s been a growing gravitation toward her over the last several years.”
With Guo’s promotion, Greylock’s general partner group now consists of Chandna, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Jerry Chen, John Lilly, Josh McFarland, James Slavet and David Sze. A 2016 member of the Forbes 30 Under 30 for venture capital at the age of 26, the now 28-year-old Guo is Greylock’s youngest GP and its first female GP since Sarah Tavel left for Benchmark a year ago.
The new GP move at Greylock comes as the firm undergoes a generational transition of a kind, with Bhusri stepping back to focus on Workday, Tavel’s arrival and exit, and the recent departure of partner Josh Elman in March. Chandna says that Guo will be part of “Greylock’s next generation.”
At Obsidian Security, where both Guo and Chandna have served as concurrent board directors after leading a $9.5 million Series A round in the machine learning-based security company, CEO Glenn Chisholm says Guo has impressed for her ability to build networks that run deeper than just the C-suite. “She has the network that VCs should have,” Chisholm says. “A lot of times it’s focused on who is starting a company next. Sarah’s is about who can we recruit, and who can give us interesting feedback.” Chandna says similar. “She’ll say, let me work on that and get back to you, and 24 hours later you’ll see a follow-up with exceptional names,” he says.
Guo’s promotion is the latest in a string of such hires for the venture capital industry, which after decades of functioning as an old boys’ club is starting to see more rapid change through efforts such as All Raise, a group of several dozen female VC partners coordinating efforts to improve diversity among funded founders and investors and the subject of Forbes’ April cover story. Firms Union Square Ventures, First Round and FirstMark added female partners late last year, as well as BoxGroup in January. In April, Redpoint added Annie Kadavy as its first female partner; earlier this month, Twitter executive Jess Verrilli returned to Google-backed firm GV as a general partner.
Greylock’s Hoffman had said in Forbes’ profile that “While we recognize that not every new general partner will be a diverse candidate, we include a diversity and inclusion review on every discussion of every position.” Chandna says that he and some of his peers believe that “diverse groups lead to better outcomes,” but that “Sarah’s promotion is because of Sarah personally.”
“It’s very dangerous for venture firms when people don’t want to bring in new opinions,” says Guo. “For me, the goal gets reset. The thing that matters is not the title, but if we have companies that are working.”
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