Sarah Guo didn’t necessarily set out to become a venture capitalist. She certainly didn’t imagine she would become the first general partner at one of the oldest venture firms in the country. Yet Guo is both of these things today. Indeed, the venture firm Greylock Partners, which Guo joined five years ago as a principal, is announcing this morning that she just became the firm’s newest general partner.
Greylock, which closed its current, 15th, fund with $1 billion in October 2016, now has 12 general partners altogether.
For Guo, the appointment caps a lifetime spent in the world of startups. Before joining Greylock, she worked as an analyst at Goldman Sachs, where she led much of the bank’s coverage of business-to-business tech companies and advised public clients, including Twitter, Netflix, Zynga, and Nvidia.
A graduate (for both undergrad and her MBA) of the University of Pennsylvania, Guo also worked previously at Casa Systems, a 15-year-old tech company that develops a software-centric networking platform for cable and mobile service providers and, that in a twist that we happen to think is pretty cool, happens to have been founded by her parents. (Her father, CEO Jerry Guo, took the company public earlier this year.)
In a conversation earlier this week, Guo said that growing up around entrepreneurship gave her an “understanding of how difficult” starting a company truly is. It also occurred to her early on that “something related to company building was what I wanted to do in the future.”
Guo also said that not much will change with her promotion. She already sits on the boards of several companies, including the security startup Obsidian, which was founded by ex-Cylance and Carbon Black execs last year and quickly raised $9.5 million led by Greylock. She said she does hope to mentor more up-and-coming investors like herself, however.
Guo first became acquainted with Greylock through Aneel Bhusri, a partner at Greylock and the cofounder and CEO of the software giant Workday. The two talked occasionally when Guo was covering internet and software startups at Goldman Sachs and had encouraged her to meet some of his venture partners, she said. “I came in, not necessarily ready to venture forever. But I’m now very excited about it obviously,” she added with a laugh.
Guo’s other deals to date include Aware Networks, a 15-year-old, Buffalo Grove, Il.-based company that develops collaboration applications for mobile communities and a still-unannounced company.
We didn’t talk about the fact that Guo just became Greylock’s first female general partner, but it’s very much worth mentioning, considering the firm was founded in 1965.
Greylock had lost another senior female investor — Sarah Tavel — to Benchmark last year. Tavel was not a general partner with Greylock but Benchmark’s first female GP.
Altogether, women still represent just 15 percent of decision makers at Silicon Valley’s major venture capital firms. Their ranks are growing slowly however.
Meanwhile, many other investors are choosing to launch their own female-founded venture firms. Among the newest of these is Breakout Ventures and a fund we reported on last night that’s being created by life sciences investor Beth Seidenberg, long of Kleiner Perkins.