Building Impactful Teams.
Welcoming Merci Victoria Grace, Jerry Ye, and Jay Madheswaran.
As venture capitalists, our job is to invest in companies. But really, what we do is invest in people — entrepreneurs and their teams. And when we’re not investing in founders and their teams, we’re investing in building our team at Lightspeed.
We have spent a lot of time at the firm creating a deep bench in both enterprise and consumer, and we are thrilled today to announce the addition of Merci Victoria Grace, Jerry Ye, and Jay Madheswaran as Partners.
Merci is a former founder and seasoned growth product leader who has built lasting, high performance teams. She has an incredible growth mindset from her time as an operator, most recently as Head of Growth at Slack where she helped scale the user base from 500,000 daily active users to over 5M in just two years, earning her a spot on Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business list.
Prior to Slack, Merci focused on engagement and paid conversion at Couchsurfing and Gigwalk. Before that, she founded a social games company at just 22 years old. Her experience as both an operator and entrepreneur made Merci a natural fit for investing. She is passionate about helping early stage companies find product/market fit, as well as advising later stage companies seeking to scale their product and growth teams.
Inside and outside of Lightspeed, Merci is passionate about mentoring women and underrepresented minorities. In 2015, she founded the Women in Product community, which has grown to over 5,000 women worldwide.
Just as much as Merci loves to explore new perspectives and ideas, she is a self-described explorer in her general approach to life experiences — she likes to do things that scare her — like free diving with sharks — as a helpful reminder not to let the fear of failure hold her back.
Jerry joins our growth team bringing with him an extensive data science background. He will tell you that ending up in the world of venture capital in the Bay Area was a surprise to him as it’s a long way from his roots as a first generation immigrant from a small village in China.
After earning his BS degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and MIMS (Masters of Information Management and Systems) degree from Berkeley, Jerry’s career blossomed at Yahoo! Labs as a Senior Research Engineer, where he worked on machine learning in search and news recommendation systems as well as models for optimizing click through rates and revenue. He then went on to serve as Lead Data Scientist at Drawbridge, where he focused on architecting and implementing a scalable machine learning system capable of training on terabytes of data, billions of samples, and millions of features on a daily basis.
Jerry later served as Founding Partner and Head of Data Science at SignalFire, one of the first venture capital firms to leverage data for deal sourcing and portfolio support. During his tenure, SignalFire substantially grew its base of assets under management.
Jerry brings senior data science experience to Lightspeed where he is already helping create unique competitive advantages for our family of portfolio companies.
We found Jay in our own backyard, so to speak — at Lightspeed portfolio company Rubrik (Thank you Bipul Sinha for sharing!). Jay brings a deep understanding of the enterprise infrastructure space and is spending time focused on open source and cloud software.
He first discovered his entrepreneurial instinct at Rubrik as a founding member of the team. In Jay’s own words…“getting to dive into all the challenges of building Rubrik from the ground up, while generating innovation in the enterprise world, was one of the greatest growth experiences of my life.” Of equal importance was learning at Rubrik the value of culture and mentorship as he helped scaled the product engineering team from just a few people to hundreds.
Born in Bangalore, India, Jay moved to America at 10 years old. After completing his BS degree in Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Jay joined Facebook (pre-IPO) and experienced the thrill of rapid innovation in a company connecting the world.
Jay grew up meditating and has continued this practice daily which he believes shapes his world view and subsequently the lens through which he invests. “As a VC, part of my job is to be able to see the future,” said Jay. “Meditation has been a huge tool in helping give me the space and time needed to contemplate where the world is going and fuel my creativity.”
To have maximum impact on entrepreneurs and their companies, you have to build a talented and diverse team of investors.
With the addition of Merci, Jerry, and Jay, we are doing just that, and we can’t wait to see how they will impact the future at Lightspeed.
For more on Lightspeed’s recent hires, head to my Partner Jeremy Liew’s post today welcoming Jana Messerschmidt, Ashley Brasier, and Neetzan Zimmerman.