Doubling Down in New York

By Chris Fralic

Since opening our New York office in 2009, we’ve been firmly committed to supporting New York founders and growing the NYC tech community — investing in over 80 companies that have gone on to raise more than $3 billion in follow-on capital and create 7,500+ jobs. Over this time, we’ve been honored to partner with exceptional CEOs, and believe there’s something special about founders who choose to build their businesses here in The City.

Through one of our earliest New York investments, we got to partner with exactly this type of entrepreneur. After working with Hayley Barna for over 7 years, we’re excited to welcome her as the newest General Partner at First Round.

We first met Hayley as Co-founder and Co-CEO of Birchbox, and watched her excel as an entrepreneur while giving back to the New York tech community in a number of ways. Most recently, we’ve been thrilled to work with her as a Venture Partner, so that she could engage with and support the First Round community for a year or two before deciding what to do next. We quickly learned that as strong as she was as a founder, she’s an even better investor. With her strong NYC network, deep reservoir of founder empathy and impressive ability to learn new markets, she’s able to provide inspiration and incisive advice to every founder she meets.

Hayley and I at last year’s partner offsite.

Most importantly for us, Hayley shares our entrepreneur-focused mindset and recognition that we work in service of our founders. This makes her an ideal cultural fit with our partnership and broader community. We know her operating experience will be a tremendous asset for First Round as we double down on our commitment to New York, and we expect her to play a key role in both shaping our future and continuing to reinvent the product we offer to this city’s strongest founders.

Hayley will have a lot to work with here, as we just opened our newly-expanded office at 28th and Park, and look forward to growing our New York-based investment team. Just like our San Francisco space, this office is designed for our community (in the broadest sense of the word) with room to meet, join us for a meal or just hang out. We’re excited to put it to good use — already hosting breakfasts and dinners several times a week for extraordinary entrepreneurs both inside and outside the portfolio.

We’re inspired by how quickly the New York landscape is changing, but we think more could be done to accelerate the size and skill of the talent pool in this city. Our goal is to extend many of the resources and experiences that have already proven successful in the Bay Area to the community here. Just this year, we launched several New York-focused initiatives, including the First Round Product Program, a masterclass for rising star product managers working across the NYC ecosystem; and the Product Co-op in New York, a small group of high-caliber product leaders who we equip with the capital and support to make angel investments of their own.

But that’s not where our New York state of mind ends. We’ll continue innovating to meet the specific needs of entrepreneurs who choose to build in NYC. And with Hayley, we’ll have a founder leading the way. If you’re interested in learning more about any of these projects or programs, or about First Round in New York, don’t hesitate to reach out to Hayley (hayley@firstround.com) or me (chris@firstround.com). Send us an email, share what you’re working on, and tell us how First Round can support your company and the NYC tech scene even more.