Adding a Product Powerhouse to the First Round Partnership — Welcome to Todd Jackson
By: Phin Barnes
While this is an exciting start to 2020, we can’t help but think back to February 2013, when Josh Kopelman took a meeting with a pair of co-founders who were working on an Android idea and looking to raise a seed round. (Hat tip to Dave Girouard of Upstart, a First Round-backed company, for the referral.) It must have gone remarkably well, because afterwards Josh sent this note to the rest of the partnership: “I met with two founders today and fell in love…” Todd was one half of that team, and it was his undeniable product chops and founder’s vision that earned Josh’s admiration.
After investing in his startup, Cover, we’ve had the privilege of sitting courtside as he grew into an incredible leader, company builder and angel investor. And in our experience, a career like Todd’s is exceedingly rare. He’s quite literally done it all, from scrappily searching for product/market fit in the early startup days to leading Dropbox’s product org to IPO. He’s been the seasoned exec architecting product strategy and leading a 200-person team, as well as the savvy PM on the front lines of building the most impactful products you use every day (including Gmail, Facebook and Twitter).
We saw the power of this expertise and experience firsthand, back when he was leading Cover. Todd was a tremendous member of our founder community, sharing his time in events like CEO Salons and his tested product tactics on the First Round Review. We loved working with him, so much so that when Twitter acquired his startup in 2014, we immediately started looking for ways to keep Todd engaged in the First Round community.
Todd joined the inaugural Angel Track cohort, and we brought him on as our Founder-in-Residence after he left Dropbox and was exploring his next play. Building on the angel investing and startup advising he’d done over the years, Todd has since worked with dozens of companies on a range of product and people challenges.
We also recognize how similar this story is to the tale of how we brought Hayley on board, first as a Venture Partner in early 2016 and as a General Partner in late 2017. (She’d also been a super valuable member of the First Round community, as the co-founder and co-CEO of Birchbox.) In fact, every partner we’ve hired in the past 10 years has founded a First Round-backed company. We think this speaks volumes about the close partnerships we’re able to forge with our founders, and the incredible strength of the community we’ve built over the years.
Outside of his in-the-trenches experience and First Round founder DNA, Todd also has other amazing qualities we’re excited to add to our partnership. He’s already the first call for many early-stage founders. He’s in lockstep alignment with our mission to relentlessly focus on backing and helping founders as they go from the very beginning to product/market fit. And from his systems thinking mindset and competitive drive to his kind and caring nature, we already know he’ll be right at home on the First Round team.
Todd’s razor-sharp product mindset, experience as a world-class exec, background as a proven founder, and experiences at Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook and Google will make him an exceptional investor. (Check out his latest article on the First Round Review for a taste of the company building wisdom he has to share.) We know our partnership will be made stronger with his point of view, and we’re certain our community will benefit from his guidance. We could not be more excited to have him join the investment team at First Round.
We talked about how we think about generational change and adding to the investing partnership here at First Round in our recent interview with Harry Stebbings on the 20MinVC podcast. For more information on our investment process, what we look for in founders and startup ideas, how we help our companies grow, how we approach diversity and inclusion, and how we choose our Limited Partners, check out the FAQ section on our homepage.