ithout a doubt, Nancy Pfund is one of the
leading impact investors of our day.While not
yet a household name, “over the last decade,
Pfund has quietly built a reputation as the go-
to venture capitalist for companies looking to
make a social impact” (NY Times). With early
investments and tremendous successes in clean energy and impact
enterprises – Tesla Motors, SolarCity, Pandora, Revolution Foods, to
name a few – she has shaped the impact investing industry and paved
the way for generations of entrepreneurs and investors alike.
Aspart ofBetterVentures’ PreSeedProgram, Pfundspoke recently in
Oakland about her career and investment legacy. It was awide-ranging
conversation covering her background, her portfolio, Oakland, gender
and diversity in the technology industry, andwhere she is focusing the
firm’s recent $400 million venture fund.
Benefits of Impact Investing.
We emphatically reject the notion that there is any kind of sacrifice
on financial return by paying attention to social return as well. I know
people disagree with that, but we’ve been doing this for 12 years
and we have proof. There is no sacrifice and, in fact, we take a step further:
we think that investing for social impact makes you a better investor and that
these companies can have better returns.”
Diversity in Venture Capital and Entrepreneurship.
As an investor, beyond the companies you work with, you also have
a choice of who you invest in. And whether it be women or people of
color, it’s essential to call out the imbalances and lack of representation
that you might see in your industry.
What’s so healthy today is that people are talking about the
problem. When I was growing up in those companies [like Intel and
Hambrecht & Quist] you never even talked about [diversity]. And while I was
able to build a career that I loved, it wasn’t possible at the levels it should have
been for women and minorities. So the first step to tackling a problem is to
speak out, get people more sensitized, and then the networks that are being
established are just really working. We see more women entrepreneurs today
than we ever have. And part of that is whenever you have a more diverse fund
manager, you’re going to see a more diverse set of entrepreneurs.”
NANCY PFUND TALKS