Announcing Sydney Thomas’ Promotion to Principal

Today it is my pleasure to announce that Sydney Thomas has been promoted to Principal at Precursor Ventures. She has earned the right to make investments on behalf of the firm and I trust her to invest our capital and source and lead deals on her own. This is a promotion that has been earned through hard work, aptitude and a clear demonstration that Sydney embodies all of the values we hold dear here at Precursor. She has already made a number of investments on behalf of the firm and will continue to do so going forward.

When Sydney joined Precursor after graduating from the Haas School of Business at Berkeley in 2016, she took a big risk on us and, frankly on me. When she joined, we were a fledgling firm with less than $5 million in committed capital; joining me and Precursor at that time was a risky move and not something that was obviously going to work out. I saved the original email where Freada Kapor Klein, the first person to ever say yes to our first fund, introduced me to Sydney:

My original intention was to hire an intern who could help me deal with our increasing flow of interesting companies, get us on a firmer operational footing and help make Precursor run better as we started to grow. Sometimes in life, you really luck out and you meet someone whose talents and capabilities far outstrip your expectations; this was clearly the case with Sydney. My expectation was always that Sydney would transition from someone who helped get our firm’s operations on track and eventually transition to an investing role. Today is the next step in that journey and I couldn’t be more excited about what the future holds for her and the entrepreneurs who are lucky enough to get the chance to work with her.

Sydney has made too many contributions to Precursor to mention, but I do want to highlight a few of the many contributions that Sydney has made to making Precursor a much better place than it was when she joined us:

  • Sydney led the recruiting process that resulted in us hiring our first Analyst, Ayanna Kerrison. From the beginning, and under her leadership, we decided we would run an open process and push the opportunity to as many places as possible to bring in the widest set of candidates possible. We had over 400 applications and Sydney personally interviewed over 100 candidates on video (well before that was a thing during COVID) and built a slate of stellar candidates. Ayanna was not someone who was known to either of us when we hired her and she has become a key member of the team. This process also validated our shared belief that venture capital is an industry that should be more open to talented, smart people who are not already part of the inside circle.

One of my greatest hopes for Precursor is that we will become a firm where talented, smart people can launch and develop their careers as venture capitalists. A core part of that belief, though, is that the people we hire should be able to show up at work as their full selves, find meaning in the work that we do as a team and find their own unique voices and investment theses at investors. I do not want to create a firm where everyone we hire and promote likes the exact same kind of companies as I do and parrots my views on the market. Part of what I think makes our firm interesting is that everyone on our team has different interests, views and perspectives on what great companies look like. I am proud to say that Sydney has developed into a true contributor to the investment team here at Precursor. She has built her own set of relationships within the venture capital industry and has pushed us to look at new markets and geographies that we didn’t pursue before.

With all of that said, the thing that I am most excited about is that Sydney has really carved out her own investment thesis and focus area as an investor. From the beginning of her time here at Precursor, Sydney has been focused on how the power of technology can be used to reduce wealth inequality and make life better for the widest swath of people possible. She has a true passion for companies whose mission and vision is to bring positive change to the lives of the largest number of people possible. When she chooses to share more about her first few investments, I think her commitment to that theme will be obvious to anyone and everyone who gets to know the companies she has backed. This is an area of interest to all of us here at Precursor, but Sydney is our spiritual leader on this charge and I expect her to find many great companies that are both great investments and are consistent with her commitment to reducing wealth inequality and other disparities in our society.

This year has brought the conversation about systemic racism to the forefront and I am grateful to have Sydney as a key member of our team during this time. For many years, conversations about the impact that race has on our society at large and venture capital as a business have been brushed aside or been difficult to address. In a year when this conversation came to the forefront, I am very grateful to have had Sydney as part of our team. From building out our team to choosing which entrepreneurs to back, this has been a year where I feel like we have really found our voice and footing on this topic as a firm. Much of that progress happened behind closed doors with conversations that we had as a team; those conversations would not have been nearly as rich without Sydney’s input and perspective. I am proud to work with her and consider her an important part of our strategy to make our industry more inclusive and to find and support more entrepreneurs of color.

I feel very fortunate to have met Sydney and to have her take a chance on us when she did. Please join me in congratulating Sydney on her promotion to Principal. I still think the best is yet to come for her as an investor and leader in our industry.



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