Paul Hsiao

Paul Hsiao

Co-Founder & General Partner
I am inspired by seeking out and supporting incredible technologists. I aspire to be a great partner to ambitious founders building meaningful companies shaping the data economy.

A former partner at NEA, Paul spent ten years helping companies scale from garage-scale startups to IPO and acquisition. Paul found that he loved the venture business, and he had an innate curiosity to learn about how others built meaningful companies. While at NEA, he worked alongside companies including Salesforce (CRM), Tableau Software, Coursera, Spreadtrum Communications, Workday (WDAY), Upwork, Gaikai (SNE), Boingo Wireless (WIFI), SMIC, and many others. 

Paul is an entrepreneur at heart. He immigrated with his parents from Taipei in junior high. Contrary to his parent’s wishes for him to become a doctor, he leveraged his mechanical and biomedical engineering degrees from MIT, where he launched startup in the medical device space tackling open-heart surgery, and his MBA from HBS, where he launched a startup in the network security space called Mazu Networks.  Paul financed the early days of Mazu on credit cards, camped outside of customer prospects and venture firms in minivan rentals, and got his break when he attracted financing support from Greylock, Matrix and Benchmark Capital.  Mazu was a pioneer in network security built from technology developed at MIT. Early adopters of Mazu’s proprietary DDoS-security platform, which was eventually acquired by Riverbed Technology, included Yahoo, eBay and CNN, and Paul is proud to say that the engineering team and underlying software paved the foundation later for Meraki.

Biography

Paul joined forces with Rebecca Lynn and Gary Little as a founding member of Canvas Ventures in 2014, with the purpose of creating the type of boutique firm he would have liked to work with as an entrepreneur himself, one where every investment is meaningful and where he can spend his time working with his founders to scale their business. At Canvas, Paul’s investments include eporta, Fluxx Labs, Kidbox, MasonHub, Flowspace, Roofstock, Shoreline Software, Skyflow, Thrive Global, Transfix, and Zola. He has also pioneered the firm’s work in co-creation— helping start new companies by match-making domain experts with market opportunity in areas ripe for disruption.

A former partner at NEA, Paul spent ten years helping companies scale from garage-scale startups to IPO and acquisition. Paul found that he loved the venture business, and he had an innate curiosity to learn about how others built meaningful companies. While at NEA, he worked alongside companies including Salesforce (CRM), Tableau Software, Coursera, Spreadtrum Communications, Workday (WDAY), Upwork, Gaikai (SNE), Boingo Wireless (WIFI), SMIC, and many others. 

Paul is an entrepreneur at heart. He immigrated with his parents from Taipei in junior high. Contrary to his parent’s wishes for him to become a doctor, he leveraged his mechanical and biomedical engineering degrees from MIT, where he launched startup in the medical device space tackling open-heart surgery, and his MBA from HBS, where he launched a startup in the network security space called Mazu Networks.  Paul financed the early days of Mazu on credit cards, camped outside of customer prospects and venture firms in minivan rentals, and got his break when he attracted financing support from Greylock, Matrix and Benchmark Capital.  Mazu was a pioneer in network security built from technology developed at MIT. Early adopters of Mazu’s proprietary DDoS-security platform, which was eventually acquired by Riverbed Technology, included Yahoo, eBay and CNN, and Paul is proud to say that the engineering team and underlying software paved the foundation later for Meraki.

Notable investments

Paul has made early investments in 8 companies that have reached an IPO, including Upwork (at Series A), Tableau (at Series A), and Cloudflare (at Series B). In all, 12 investments that Paul has worked on have gone from garage-scale to IPOs on NASDAQ. They include Atheros, Salesforce (CRM), Tableau Software (DATA), Boingo Wireless (WIFI), and Glu Mobile (GLUU).

Focus areas

True to his entrepreneurial instincts, Paul has explored a number of spaces—SaaS, China, alternative energy. As a believer in the power of marketplaces, Paul has invested in a number of successful marketplace businesses including Houzz, Zola and Transfix. His current passion is the data economy, specifically companies innovating across the data layer to drive critical insights.

Personal interests

You can find Paul flying helicopters and racing cars.

Favorite book

Motivation

Fun fact

What founders say

We recently selected Paul and Canvas to lead our Series A. When we met Paul, I realized he was a kindred spirit for us - only interested in building large game-changing IPO companies—our true north for Skyflow. When I did my diligence calls, every founder-CEO I spoke with said he's the hardest working investor on their board with the least drama. The two rarely come together.
Anshu Sharma
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Cofounder and CEO
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Skyflow
Canvas has been instrumental. Paul Hsiao has dug into our business more deeply than any other investor. There are very few people on the planet who understand two-sided marketplaces and the math and required liquidity like Paul does. Paul spent an inordinate amount of time combing through the details with us and really coming to understand where the levers and triggers in our business were. I don’t think we’d be nearly as successful today if Paul hadn’t gone through that process with us. And frankly, I don’t know of anyone else who had the skills to do that.
Drew McElroy
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Co-Founder & Chairman
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Transfix
Paul asks the best questions. He is deeply intelligent, but understated about it. He doesn’t need to be right—he’s just focused on ensuring the best outcome, and he’s demonstrated time and time again that he’s totally in our corner. He is consistently level-headed and respectful of my decisions; I consider him to be a critical thought-partner.
Anurag Gupta
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Founder/CEO
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Shoreline
We think of Paul as our secret weapon. From the second he invested in our Series B, he came into the trenches to offer all kinds of support. He identified places the Canvas team could help out (e.g. customer acquisition channels and techniques); he worked with us on future fundraising rounds; and he plays a key leadership role on our board. And on the product side, Paul really shines. He has helped us think about how to best prioritize the right expansions that will have shown the biggest impact on both our users and the company and for that we are eternally grateful.
Shan-Lyn Ma
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Co-founder and CEO
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Zola