The short version:
- Grew up in NorCal
- Graduate of UCSD (economics) and University of Chicago (MBA)
- First job: programmer at Accenture
- Startups: BuildOnline (sold to publicly traded French company) and Koral (sold to Salesforce.com)
- Now: Partner at Upfront Ventures, the largest venture capital firm in Southern California
- Current Investments / Boards: Maker Studios, RingRevenue, Adly, Awe.sm, Burstly, Pose, TextPlus, DataSift, MyTime, Gravity, Moonfrye
- Also: on the board of UCSD’s Rady School of Business Venture Capital Fund
- I founded Launchpad LA, a mentorship program designed to help the most promising LA-based companies get funded and become successful (and stay in Los Angeles!)
The longer version:
I grew up in Northern California and was fortunate enough to have computers around my house and school from a young age. In fact, in high school in the mid-eighties I sold computer software and taught advanced computers. Luckily I found this Venn Diagram that describes the correct intersection of “Geek” as being somebody with brains and obsession but not with social ineptitude. I was also the guy in high school who sold custom t-shirts and threw keg parties. I combined these passions in university by becoming social chairman and then president of my fraternity while redesigning our accounting system with Lotus 1-2-3 macros. Which frat I was in doesn’t matter since I never gave it a second thought after college.
When I was graduated I joined Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) in Los Angeles to build computer systems for large corporations. I focused mostly on computer networking but had stints with programming, database design and then system modeling and testing. Yes, I programmed in COBOL and used DB2 and CICS. Yes, that means I’m older than a lot of you but our shit still had to work! In 1994 when most of my friends were leaving system integration to start companies in Silicon Valley I chose a different path. I transferred within Accenture to their technology center of excellence in Sophia Antipolis, France and lived in Antibes and then Cannes. No, this didn’t suck. I got to work all over Europe including a long stint in Rome as well as posts in Belgium, Switzerland, Hungary and Spain.
Accenture paid for my MBA at University of Chicago and I got to work for a three year period of time as a “strategy consultant,” which meant I became a blackbelt in PowerPoint and Excel. Actually, I worked on a lot of really interesting projects including working on the original Internet Strategy project for the head of Internet & Multimedia at British Telecom as well as a board-level eCommerce strategy project for Sony in Tokyo, Japan, where I lived for 6 months.
I started my first company in 1999 and was headquartered in London. We were a SaaS platform for large-scale engineering & construction projects including the London Underground, Thames Water, BNP Paribas and all of the top German construction firms. We had offices in 7 countries and I personally traveled to India to help establish our “captive” development center in Pune.
I left this company in 2005 and sold it to a publicly traded French services company. I moved home in 2005 and founded my second company, Koral, in San Mateo (I lived in Palo Alto). We sold this company to Salesforce.com where I became VP Product Management. This company now forms what is known as Salesforce Content.
To follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/msuster