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New Themes Investments

 

Our New Themes Investing Approach

While all Canvas partners care about “New Themes,” Ben Narasin spends the most time thinking about technologies and startups that don’t yet fit into a recognized category. Ben joined Canvas in 2015. Prior to Canvas, he invested in Lending Club in 2008 before people used the term “FinTech.” He invested in Dropcam in 2009 before “IoT” was a thing. Ben also invested in Branch Metrics in 2014 before most people realized the depth of how mobile could be transformed. And, he invested in Enigma in 2012 before artificial intelligence was as talked about as it is today.

In addition, Gary Little led an investment in Evernote in 2009 while at Morgenthaler Ventures, becoming Evernote’s first US venture-capital investor. At that time, Gary Little and Rebecca Lynn were forming a point-of-view around consumer mobile apps (the iPhone was rewriting the rules of the industry). Evernote spurred the start of a “Mobile” thesis—one in which mobile apps must have an innate ability to grow in value to the user over time. Evernote is one’s “external brain,” capturing digital notes and memories in the cloud. The more a user uses Evernote, the more it becomes an integral part of his or her work and personal life. When Gary led the investment in Evernote, it had less than 5 million users. Today, the company has well over 200 million users.

Rebecca Lynn led Lending Club’s Series B investment in Q1 of 2009 while at Morgenthaler Ventures—during the depth of the credit crisis. Banks were in shock and frozen; consumer credit was a scary space for VCs to enter. When Rebecca met Lending Club, she believed the team had the ability to execute on their transformative idea.

Lastly, when the Siri founders approached Gary Morgenthaler, our Senior Advisor, he was not actively looking for a “virtual personal assistant.” There was no such category. But given his experience in machine learning and natural language processing, he was thrilled to back the Siri team and co-lead their Series A round in 2008 out of Morgenthaler Ventures.