Leaving _Underscore

Few things are more satisfying than moving an idea from the clouds to the ground. And few things are more gut-level thrilling than shifting from hope to certainty. Several moments in my life fall into this category — reinventing the New England Venture Capital Association, founding _Underscore.VC, and on a personal level, marrying Michael Davies and becoming a step-mom and then welcoming two more amazing daughters into the world together. Nothing is better than looking into the face of that reality you created. Nothing.

At the same time, nothing is worse than realizing that you might have created a reality that doesn’t 100% suit you. Have you been there before? When you look around and know that you built something customers want, you get fist bumped left and right, but in your heart you know that you’ve left some important parts of yourself behind?

I know what that’s like and it’s a painful thing to reconcile. A commitment to an idea, to a founding team, to a variety of exceptionally talented stakeholders — and to yourself. After building what I believe has the potential to be one of the most meaningful and disruptive models for investing in great entrepreneurs, I am leaving _Underscore.VC.

A startup is a journey… a process of evolving what begins as an idea in the direction the real world wants to take it. Though it’s still early in this journey, it’s clear that process has changed what the business needs, away from the things I most want to do. That’s just how it goes sometimes, and rather than stick around to play a role I’m less suited to, I’ve made the difficult decision to move on from the operating team.

My co-founding partners Michael Skok and John Pearce continue to lead the firm alongside some of the best up-and-coming investors and operators I know, Richard Dulude, Cory Bolotsky, and Rob Wu. Together, we raised an oversubscribed fund from top tier institutional Limited Partners and some of the greatest VCs and entrepreneurs of our time. We wrestled to the ground an idea that started on a napkin and built an operating model that works. We created an Associate program with a strong pipeline of Northeastern co-op students who get hands-on experience running a first-time fund. And, most importantly, we activated an extraordinary network of serial entrepreneurs and tech executives who work in partnership with us to bring up the next generation of enduring technology companies.

This is the most intentional move I’ve made and I’m giving it the time it deserves by taking a few months to read and talk and think before I jump into my next full-time commitment. While I do that, I’ll continue to channel my passion for our community through my board work with Resilient Coders, the Alliance for Business Leadership, the New England Venture Capital Association, Room to Grow and MassRobotics. In particular, I’m excited to put more elbow grease into the Pledge 1% movement that is building real momentum in Boston and to working on equity issues such as paid family leave policy. And, of course, there’s that thorny question of how each of us should be taking action right now to protect our democracy.

I’ll continue mentoring entrepreneurs and also enjoy some extra time at the playground with my 3 year old and 10 month old daughters. And I’ll be in Australia for a couple of weeks catching part of the Springsteen Summer Tour.

I’m grateful to the founding team at _Underscore for all we’ve experienced and accomplished together and look forward to being connected to the fund for a long time to come. And I’m really excited to explore and announce a new chapter when I’m ready. I’ll keep you posted.