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Venture capital and the meritocracy of Silicon Valley

Zafar Anjum | Nov. 4, 2014
In this interview, Somesh Dash, principal, Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), talks about his journey as a venture capital professional, and how Silicon Valley in inimitable.


Somesh Dash joined Institutional Venture Partners (IVP) in March, 2005. He focuses primarily on later-stage investments in Internet, software, wireless, and technology-enabled services companies. Somesh actively participated in IVP's investments in AddThis, Akamai (AKAM), AppDynamics, Dropbox, Gaia Online, H5, Klout, LivingSocial, MySQL, Netflix (NFLX), Personal Capital, Pure Storage, Quigo (TWX), Shazam, SoundCloud, and Zynga (ZNGA), among others.

Prior to joining IVP, Somesh was an analyst in the Corporate Finance Division of Credit Suisse's Technology Investment Banking Group. While at Credit Suisse, Somesh focused on strategic financing initiatives for a number of public and private technology companies. Prior to joining Credit Suisse, Somesh worked for Luxmi Capital, an early stage venture capital fund focused on digital media investments. He also worked for the Corporate Development Division of Sony Entertainment Television (SET) in Mumbai, India.

Somesh is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship at UC Berkeley and the Stanford Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS). He is also currently a member of the Partnership for a New American Economy, a nonprofit initiative focused on skilled immigration reform, and co-chaired the March for Innovation (#iMarch). He is a term member of the Council of Foreign Relations. He was formerly a member of the Haas Alumni Board and Haas Development Board at UC Berkeley.

Somesh earned a B.S. in Business Administration from the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley and an M.B.A. from Stanford University.

Somesh's parents are from India and Italy. "They emigrated to US, originally to Canada and then to US," he tells me over the phone. "And both were essentially in the technology industry. I was actually born next to San Francisco, and I grew up in Silicon Valley - about 20 miles from where Intel was founded and about 30 miles from where Hewlett-Packard was founded."

"And when you grow up in such an area, you can't even help but be aware of what is going on in the industry, entrepreneurship and innovation because it's part of your cultural fabric. And so I got interested in technology and entrepreneurship at a pretty young age, cause I just read stories about the founding of Sun Microsystems, the founding of Yahoo by Jerry Yang and David Filo and the Netscape IPO - I was like 'wow, how can a company that's so new almost revolutionize the entire industry is started by a guy who has just got out of college?' Essentially it's like he (Marc Lowell Andreessen, the co-founder of Netscape browser) dropped out or was just right out of college."

Because of his interest in technology, Somesh did a few internships. A few other gigs in the technology industry made him fascinated with the way human thinking happens in the venture capitalist job. "I study trends and technology, identify growing market, find great entrepreneurs, enlist the help of people we know the diligence in these companies, I invest in them and then I go on the board to help them grow," he says. "I help them strategically, with anything that is really high leverage for the business... if they have a good outcome, we do well, if they have a bad outcome, we don't do well. What I like the most is the long term outlook. You always want to grow faster, you always want to move quickly,  you're always paranoid of people catching up but you have to start to think the long term to grow very well; from start to finish. So you know, you have to cautiously be in this state of 'lets go, lets go, lets go' but 'OK, we still have a long way to go'."


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