“Thoughtful leadership evolution in growing and scaling companies is healthy. It happens in strong, successful, mission-driven companies all the time. We’ve seen it over and over again in our own investment portfolio – and helped to mentor our founders through these strategic decisions and transitions. It’s all part of the journey.”
Today, I’m thrilled and honored to announce that Maëlle Gavet has joined Techstars as CEO.
Before telling you more about Maëlle, I’d like to tell you why we decided to recruit a new CEO in the first place. As one of the highest velocity seed investors in the world, we’re now funding approximately 500 companies annually, and this number is growing fast. Our portfolio of thousands of accelerator companies has now raised well in excess of $10B from investors, with well over $2B of that happening in the last twelve months alone. It’s our job to continue helping them succeed as we grow, and as they grow.
Techstars itself now employs 300 people in 22 countries, and has activities in more than 150 countries. Our success is attracting more and more interest, and it feels like we’re on the cusp of hypergrowth. As such, we decided to bring in an experienced operator who has seen growth from our scale to more than 10x our scale to lead us through this phase.
Maëlle has been a leading technology executive and entrepreneur for over 15 years. She began her career as an entrepreneur and then went on to become a Principal at the Boston Consulting Group from there she became CEO of OZON.ru, Russia’s largest e-commerce site (which recently went public on NASDAQ and is valued at over $9B), and then Executive VP of operations of the Priceline Group, the largest online and travel agency in the world which includes brands like OpenTable, Kayak, and Booking.com. Most recently Maëlle was Chief Operating Officer at real estate platform Compass, valued at over $6B.
When I first read Maëlle’s book, Trampled by Unicorns: Big Tech’s Empathy Problem and How to Fix It, I was blown away. It was by far the best articulation of the problems with technology companies that I’ve seen in one place, along with practical ways that we can all contribute to addressing the issues. She sees the same opportunity for tech and entrepreneurship to be a force for good, and to benefit everyone. I knew as soon as I read it that I wanted to try to get Maëlle involved with Techstars one way or another.
After speaking with her dozens of times over the last few months, it became clear to me and everyone on the board at Techstars that she would be incredible as the CEO of Techstars. We ran a full process, with more than 350 applicants, interviewed dozens, and felt fortunate to be able to select Maëlle. We are honored that she has also selected Techstars!
It’s impossible to sufficiently thank my co-founder and outgoing CEO David Brown for his contributions to date. David is the best co-founder, partner, and friend I could have ever asked for. I feel incredibly fortunate that he has also been such a capable leader at exactly the right moments for Techstars. David will continue with Techstars in his ongoing role on the Board of Directors.
The quote at the top of this post belongs to David Brown. These can be difficult transitions for founders (more thoughts on this), but the way in which he has approached it all speaks volumes about his character and integrity. After nearly thirty years working closely with David, I am humbled to be his co-founder and honored to call him a friend.
As for me, I am now Chairman rather than Managing Partner. What’s behind the move to Chairman? Well, as fast growing companies mature they need leadership for the Board of Directors in addition to leadership for the company. Maëlle will lead the company as CEO, and I’ll lead the Board of Directors as Chairman. While my primary responsibility will be to provide leadership for the Board of Directors, I’ll have plenty of bandwidth day-to-day to support Maëlle on her priorities.
And now, with excitement, we welcome Maëlle to the team as we look forward to helping even more entrepreneurs succeed!