Mike Ghaffary

Mike Ghaffary

General Partner
As a lifelong entrepreneur, I got into the field of venture to help the next generation of founders. I spent the last decade building four companies, taking startups all the way to IPO or exit, and I enjoy sharing my most valuable, hard-earned lessons to help founders see around corners.

A native of Cupertino, Mike caught the technology bug at an early age. He started playing video games at age 4, taught himself programming at 13, and founded his first startup at 19. While studying for the bar exam, he had the idea for BarMax, a $1000 iPhone app for exam preparation, which is currently the top rated bar exam course in the app store. 

Mike went on to co-found Stitcher, an early podcasting company backed by Benchmark where he led partnerships with The Wall Street Journal, NPR, The Washington Post, TechCrunch, and many others. Mike was also early at TrialPay, a payments company that was acquired by Visa, where he led the partnership with Facebook that doubled the company’s revenue.

Mike’s enthusiasm for the early stage brought him to Yelp in 2010, where he was Vice President of Business Development and Corporate Development, and ultimately started the mergers and acquisitions function. In that role, Mike secured more than 200 partnerships with leading companies, including Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung, and he led Yelp’s acquisition of Eat24. The founders of Eat24 asked Mike to step in as CEO of the new subsidiary, where he helped scale the company to 500 employees and generated 700 million in gross revenue.

Mike has a BS in Computer Science from the University of Southern California, and a JD/MBA from Harvard University.

Biography

Following a decade of collaboration with Rebecca and Paul, Mike officially joined Canvas Ventures as a general partner in 2019, where he invests in innovation for consumers and software. Mike draws from his 10 years in business development to work with companies on their early business development initiatives, revenue lines, and partnerships as well as their go-to-market strategy and execution.

A native of Cupertino, Mike caught the technology bug at an early age. He started playing video games at age 4, taught himself programming at 13, and founded his first startup at 19. While studying for the bar exam, he had the idea for BarMax, a $1000 iPhone app for exam preparation, which is currently the top rated bar exam course in the app store. 

Mike went on to co-found Stitcher, an early podcasting company backed by Benchmark where he led partnerships with The Wall Street Journal, NPR, The Washington Post, TechCrunch, and many others. Mike was also early at TrialPay, a payments company that was acquired by Visa, where he led the partnership with Facebook that doubled the company’s revenue.

Mike’s enthusiasm for the early stage brought him to Yelp in 2010, where he was Vice President of Business Development and Corporate Development, and ultimately started the mergers and acquisitions function. In that role, Mike secured more than 200 partnerships with leading companies, including Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung, and he led Yelp’s acquisition of Eat24. The founders of Eat24 asked Mike to step in as CEO of the new subsidiary, where he helped scale the company to 500 employees and generated 700 million in gross revenue.

Mike has a BS in Computer Science from the University of Southern California, and a JD/MBA from Harvard University.

Notable investments

As an angel investor and advisor to consumer and software companies, Mike backed Superhuman, Strava, Faire, Metromile, and Optimizely, among others, before becoming a partner at Social Capital, where his portfolio included CloudKitchens and Standard Cognition.

Focus areas

Mike is especially excited about online marketplaces, productivity, and software that he might have found useful when he was building companies.

Personal interests

You’ll find Mike working on his next productivity hack—he wrote a book on “Inbox Zero” and listens to audible books and podcasts on 3x speed. You can also find him riding his bike to the top of Mt. Tam at sunrise, snowboarding down a mountain, or having living room dance parties with his young kids.

Favorite book

Motivation

Fun fact

What founders say

Getting a partner on the board is a critical decision as founder. I selected Canvas because of Mike. Mike felt like someone I could trust and have the space to problem-solve with. As a recent operator, Mike has provided a phenomenal level of help as I’ve thought through rebuilding my team. I get to think out loud with him, with a great level of comfort, and Mike knows how to make things happen. If there was a complete crisis, Mike would be the first person I’d call. I sincerely feel we are on a journey together and part of the same entity.
Tushar Garg
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Co-Founder & CEO
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Flyhomes
It’s hard to imagine anyone working harder for your company than Mike. And he does so with an operator's appreciation for the highs and lows of a rapidly growing startup. Mike has been a fantastic advisor to Strava over the years and continues to deliver in unexpected ways.
Mark Gainey
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Founder and Chairman
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Strava
With Canvas you get close personal contact with all the partners because of their structure. All the partners really care about you. For example, Mike Ghaffary was not the partner who led our original investment, but he still had us top of mind as he spoke with growth investors, and he actually referred us to another venture investor who led our next round of financing, and became a new high quality board member.
Donny Salazar
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Founder & CEO
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MasonHub