A Look Back – Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

I left Intel ten years ago and have been blessed beyond belief this past decade.  I haven’t posted in quite some time but have been feeling very grateful of late and thought I’d share my blessings in an effort to get back into writing.  First, the back-story.

I left Intel to launch Okapi Ventures in 2005 after numerous conversations with Matt Massengill (then Chairman & CEO of Western Digital), Dwight Decker (then Chairman & CEO of Connexant Systems), and Randy Lunn (then GP at Palomar Ventures) convinced me to leave my proverbial corner office and do something inherently more local.  I wasn’t looking to leave Intel when our conversations began in early 2004.  I was running strategy and corporate development for Intel’s software group (“SSG”) worldwide and was having an amazing time and gaining unbelievable experience by the day.  My wife and I had just moved down to Orange County the year before, bought our first house, and were then expecting our first child.  Things were very good.

So, why’d I leave?  Simple.  I became convinced of two things during our conversations.  First, I realized I would be taking enormous financial and career risk to give up being an exec at Intel at that time (especially in light of imminent fatherhood).  Fortunately, I also realized I would be taking an even bigger risk with my life’s experiences by not leaving.  I’m pretty sure Robert Frost’s famous poem came to mind when I made me decision.

So, at the “ripe old age” of 33, I left Intel and launched Okapi Ventures.  Since then, I have been blessed to partner with Sharon Stevenson.  She has been a truly amazing partner, mentor, and friend the past ten years and we have been through a lot together.  The venture capital industry is a truly crazy industry and most people don’t realize how important the partnerships are.  Period.

I have been blessed to have raised two funds totally almost $50M.  Sharon and I have been blessed to have backed some phenomenal entrepreneurs and work with very talented teams to grow almost 20 startups over the past ten years.

Finally, wife and I have been blessed with two amazing kids that are as curious and precocious as a parent could hope for and have enjoyed watching them develop beyond what my vocabulary can articulate and are excited to see what they are becoming.  I live for my family and look forward to the next ten years together.


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