Welcome to Invested, Supermaker’s series featuring uncensored takes from within the inner workings of America’s prestigious venture capital firms. Invested is led by Leah Fessler, journalist, investor, and head of editorial at Chief, and Alex Marshall, a venture capitalist focusing on special projects at First Round Capital, and co-founder of HealthIQ.
Among the most influential and successful venture funds, Union Square Ventures holds a unique presence. While Sequoia, a16z, and many of the largest VC funds were founded and remain in and around Silicon Valley, USV has always proudly run its operations, and many of its investments, out of New York City.
Founded in 2003 by Fred Wilson and Brad Burnham, who have since become two of the most prolific thought leaders in tech, USV sets itself apart as a thesis-driven fund, honing in on both hot market trends and the partnership’s personal interests. This strategy has paid off in spades, earning USV investments in various big-name successes, including Twitter, Tumblr, Etsy, Carta, and Coinbase. In 2019, USV secured $429 million across two new funds.
Since its founding, USV has made a strategic and concerted effort to hire cognitively and demographically diverse investors. In 2017, the fund brought on Rebecca Kaden, a brilliant VC previously at Maveron (where she worked her way up from associate to partner in a matter of years) as USV’s first female partner.
Today, USV’s tight-knit team counts many women among its core contributors, including rising star Dani Grant. After graduating from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study in 2015, Grant worked in product strategy at BuzzFeed and Cloudflare prior to joining USV as an analyst in 2018. In addition to self-publishing more than a dozen whimsical and useful tools, games, and widgets, Dani is also an analyst at USV.
Supermaker interviewed Grant about her perspective on USV’s thesis-driven investment strategy, how she pivoted from product to VC, and where she sees her career expanding in the future.