New Year, New (Old) Hashtag: #Angels!
Let me get straight to it: I’ve made the decision — perhaps the biggest in my career — to focus on investing. And with that, I’m bidding farewell to the amazing team at Slack with a heart full of gratitude.
Silicon Valley was more myth than reality to me when I started my career as a software engineer, thousands of miles away in Dallas. I was 25 when I moved to San Francisco as a product manager, and if you’d told me then, in 2005, that I would soon have the opportunity to be a part of high-growth startups changing the world not once, but three times, I wouldn’t have believed it. And yet, for almost fifteen years, I have had the extraordinary, exhilarating privilege of working at three of the fastest growing companies in Silicon Valley history.
At Google, I learned first-hand how great companies operate when they experience hyper-growth. At Twitter, I learned how to be an effective leader on a product under a very bright spotlight, while the company grew from from 175 people to 4000, and from $0 to $2B in revenue, in five years. I experienced the thrill of being part of the fabric of a company during its formative years, shaping its products, how work got done, and the culture. And at Slack, I’ve worked closely with brilliant founders to build a product that is transforming how millions of people get their work done every day.
Looking back, I realize: I learned how to work, then I worked hard, and eventually I got the chance to help shape how millions of other people work as a product leader and executive here at Slack. And — because I’m someone who likes to stay busy — there was a parallel plot line…
In 2015, five friends and former colleagues of mine and I started #Angels, with a mission of getting more women on the cap tables of the most successful startups.Three months later, I was offered the greatest opportunity of my career: to join Slack at 150 people to lead our platform efforts.
As VP of Product and Chief Product Officer, I’ve had the incredible good luck to be a part of growing Slack by 10X or more in every measure. I’ve also had the opportunity to work in close partnership with two of our extraordinary founders, Stewart and Cal, to build the product, the business, and the company that Slack is today.
There are too many highlights to count, but I’m immensely proud of having had a hand in launching our Platform, which is now in use by 200,000 developers every week; of raising and launching the Slack Fund which now backs 49 promising startups; and of bringing Slack to some of the largest companies in the world with the launch of Enterprise Grid. I’ve helped build the current senior leadership team in which I have the utmost confidence — including our new Chief Product Officer, Tamar Yehoshua, to whom I am delighted and honored to pass the baton.
And most of all, I’m proud of building the incredible Product Team, which works with devotion and craftsmanship to make our customers’ experience better every day.
During that same time, #Angels has taken off in ways I could never have predicted. We’ve built a community with other women angel investors and operators in San Francisco, New York, Seattle, and beyond. We’ve brought transparency to #TheGapTable and to the inequity in founder and employee ownership between men and women in our industry. We’ve had the opportunity to invest in more than 80 inspiring founders and the companies they’re building.
One common story you hear when you talk to founders is that their idea ran as a background process for many years until it moved into the foreground and became a calling too loud to ignore. And now, I can truly empathize with founders — because that’s happened for me. Investing, which started as a side hustle for me and my #Angels partners, has emerged as the pursuit too inspiring and energizing to be relegated to my spare time.
As I shift to focusing on investing and #Angels, I’m most excited about getting the chance to work with founders. Having spent 20 years operating in the trenches myself — from my first role as a technical support representative, to engineer, to product manager, to executive — helping them through the inevitable struggles they face is deeply rewarding to me on a personal and professional level.
I’m so proud of the work the entire team at Slack is doing. Building a product which appeals to both the smallest and the largest companies in the world is no small feat. Running a service which companies rely upon as the foundation for how they run their businesses requires a relentless dissatisfaction with the status quo. Building a company from 150 people to 1500 in four years is the stuff of legend. And Slack is only getting started.
To Stewart, Cal, my team, and all of my colleagues at Slack — thank you. Keep up the good work. I will be your greatest cheerleader and grateful customer. 🙇♀️