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What visionary CEOs mean for startups going the distance


Think fast and think long term. How the traits of a founder CEO makes a big difference when it comes to building an investable startup.

As a tech investor in Silicon Valley, there are a number of things to consider when deciding what companies to invest in. Co-founder and MD of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Ann Winblad believes that visionary CEOs behind each startup is “it”, or, “what we look for in people, are incredible intellectuals, curiosity and intellectual stamina.”

She states that there is also an element of thinking long-term with fast moving, tactical business models.

The co-founder is particularly excited about the software world, and quotes this from her colleague Marc Andreessen, “Software continues to eat the world.” The more software “eats” into companies, the increased ability companies have to work even faster.

Typically, according to Winblad, a business going through a Series A funding round will be a group of engineers with no CEO. However, she suggests if the company has a CEO, “it always works best if the founder CEO can go the distance because then you have a visionary CEO in a leadership role.” Fundamentally, it is the primary job of the board of directors to decide on the hiring and firing of a CEO.

Winblad finishes with a prediction on who she thinks could potentially have the highest valuation in the next 5 years. However she is cautious, “when Google was a young company – which today is the most important company existing in the software landscape by size, scale and performance – almost every venture capitalist found it hard to figure out where they were going and Google of course ended up with a large market cap.”

If there was an opportunity to decide who could be it next, it’ll probably be wrong.

She believes that the visionary CEO behind Uber could have the potential to have the highest valuation but…”We’re not good as futurists, just good as opportunists as venture capitalists.”