As one of the most successful founders in tech, Max Levchin truly needs no introduction. From his early days as a cofounder at PayPal and then at Slide, Max established a reputation as both an innovative thinker and a no-nonsense business leader.

For the last nine years he’s been running Affirm, helping consumers finance purchases at the point of sale, without hidden fees or unpleasant surprises.

Yet despite his decades of experience, Max is still wrestling with new problems and overcoming fresh challenges. I caught up with him at our Leading Lights 2021 event last month. …

The following is a joint post between Nicole Quinn, General Partner, and Meredith Kendall Maines, Marketing Partner, at Lightspeed Venture Partners.

“If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.” — Bill Gates.

In today’s world, the importance of good public relations and media relations is continuing to become more prevalent, and is something that should be at the forefront of all entrepreneurs and founders’ minds. Investing in PR can help organically grow your business through earned media strategies that result in customer trust and company credibility. As a VC, I have seen first-hand…

Why we’re investing in Real, an innovative mental health startup

Ariela Safira, Founder & CEO, Real

To say that 2020 was a crazy year is putting it mildly. According to the CDC, 40% of US adults are now struggling with a mental health issue, up from 20% pre-pandemic.

But it was also the year we finally began having a public and long-overdue conversation about these issues. Celebrities like Taylor Swift and athletes like Simone Biles came forward with their own struggles, which made it easier for the rest of us to acknowledge that we too may need help.

At Lightspeed, we’ve always believed technology has a huge role to play in promoting good mental fitness. That’s…

The secrets of finding great employees

Our Lightspeed family on the day of the SNAP IPO

I remember my first job interview with Lightspeed back in 2014. I was in discussions with several firms, but it was the questions the Lightspeed folks asked that made them stand out from the others. Unlike those other firms, whose questions stayed at the surface level, Lightspeed went deep into my skills set, background, and experience. That interview allowed them to fully know me, and gave me conviction that this was the place for me.

Hiring the right people is the most important thing a founder can do.

In the investment world we tend to talk a lot about founders…

10 emerging trends for the next 12 months

No one expected what 2020 had in store for us. For far too many, the reality was bleak. 2021 will be the year we get vaccinated, rebuild, and collectively decide what we want our long-term future to look like.

But the Black Swan year of 2020 also inspired better personal habits (I know I’ll be washing my hands more often) and drove fundamental changes to how we use technology to improve our lives, which were frankly long overdue.

Each January I like to reflect and share where I believe the world is moving and where Lightspeed is investing. …

What Calm, WeChat and Uber all have in common

There are 24 spots on your home screen for an app. With ~3 million apps available, competition for home screen placement is fierce. The importance of being a home screen app is due to consumers needing to see the app regularly to remind them to use it. Out of sight out of mind, after all.

Once an app finds that sacred home screen spot, the daily engagement is typically an order of magnitude higher than those apps lost to page 2, 3, 4… and as such, the retention is materially higher.

If home screens are the mecca, companies are increasingly…

Back from maternity leave & the importance of equal parental leave

I can’t believe it’s been four months since I took a leave from Lightspeed to have my son, Charlie. In some ways, it feels like only days have passed. In other ways, it feels like years.

After enduring a 50-hour labor (!) I have a new-found appreciation for mothers across the world. My Partners, Jana and Meredith, also had babies during Covid and I am grateful that I got to share this experience with others in our work family.

Equal maternity and paternity leave

In the Netherlands they give 2 years parental leave to…

The Lunchclub team.

Fifteen years ago, I was starting my first real job as an analyst at Morgan Stanley in London. With the audacity of youth, I dashed off an email to John Mack, the company’s CEO, and requested a meeting. John Mack was already a legend in the world of finance. I was a low-level newbie.

To my shock and delight, he responded. John said he’d be in London in a couple of weeks and that we should have lunch. From then on he became an important mentor to me.

Even at the age of 21 I understood the power of professional…

Illustration: Oscar Bolton Green

What ‘Shoe Dog’ taught this venture capitalist about influencer marketing, building a global brand, and IPOs

This is part of the Marker series “Read Like a Boss,” where founders, CEOs, and leaders in business reflect on books that revolutionized their thinking, framed their career, or aided them in a crucial business decision. This week, Nicole Quinn, a partner at the venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners who has invested in brands such as Cameo, Goop, and Zola, reflects on what Nike founder Phil Knight’s memoir Shoe Dog means to her.

I was a competitive sprinter for many years. Even today, I like to lace up my trainers and knock out a quick sprint a few times…

Announcing Lightspeed’s investment in Clean Liquor, a low/no alcohol beverage company founded by British TV star Spencer Matthews.

“Who wants to drink anymore?” said Chelsea Handler. The comedian, whose autobiography is titled “Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea?” shocked fans and followers when she renounced drinking this past month, saying “I don’t want to be fat and bloated when I’m older.”

Turns out Chelsea isn’t alone. Millennials and Gen Z consumers are increasingly mindful and health conscious, looking for ‘clean’ and ‘non-toxic’ ways of living. Younger people are taking control of their own lives earlier. ‘Clean living’ is a…

Nicole Quinn

Investor at Lightspeed, Stanford alum, Former Consumer Analyst at Morgan Stanley and British 100m sprinter

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