Mark Suster is a Partner at Upfront Ventures. He joined the firm in 2007 after having previously worked with Upfront Ventures for nearly 8 years as a two-time entrepreneur. Before joining Upfront Mark was Vice President, Product Management at Salesforce.com following its acquisition of Koral, where Mark was Founder and CEO. Prior to Koral, Mark was Founder and CEO of BuildOnline, a European SaaS company that was acquired by SWORD Group. Earlier in his career, Mark spent nearly ten years working for Accenture in Europe, Japan and the U.S.
Mark looks to invest in passionate entrepreneurs in early-stage technology businesses. His interests include Digital Content and Distribution, AdTech, Consumer Internet, and SaaS businesses and he has deep operating experience having started and sold his last two companies.
Mark received a BA in Economics from the University of California, San Diego, and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
On a sports field somewhere around LA cheering on my two boys in soccer, basketball, baseball or swimming. I work hard during the week but Saturdays are all about the kids and I love it.
Be real. Be authentic. Only start a business that you are truly passionate about because it is very seldom that success comes from "a money making idea." Most businesses are not huge financial winners so doing what you love is the only way to truly be happy.
A team with technology at the core of its DNA creating a product fundamentally better than its predecessor.
Yves has been a Partner at Upfront since its founding in 1996. Prior to Upfront Ventures, Yves managed the U.S. investments of Fourcar B.V., a division of Carrefour S.A., the second largest retailer in the world. In this capacity, he was an investor in numerous private equity investments in a number of venture capital, emerging growth and later-stage retailing transactions.
Yves has SaaS/Cloud Software and Consumer Internet / Consumer domain expertise. He has helped build $1B+ businesses in both verticals and has operational experience at a leading European retailer.
Yves attended the University of Law (Lyon) where he received a JD and LLM, and received an LLM from New York University School of Law.
Uber. I don't have to worry about my kids or friends getting around, and the interface is awesome.
Franklin Canyon Park. Great hiking and scenery that is easily accessible.
Be obsessed about product and make great hires.
Greg joined Upfront as a Partner in 2013. Greg was the Chief Marketing Officer for HauteLook, a leading online flash-sale retailer. Launched in December 2007, Los Angeles based HauteLook was acquired by Nordstrom, Inc., in March 2011 for $270mm. Prior to joining HauteLook, Greg was Executive Vice President of Business Development and Strategy at Live Nation, responsible for strategic direction and key business partnerships for Live Nation’s ticketing and digital businesses. Before Live Nation, Greg held a number of leadership positions at eBay, including Sr. Director of Business Development at StubHub, where he led business development, partnerships, sales and seller development, including spearheading StubHub’s landmark relationship with Major League Baseball. Prior to transitioning to StubHub from eBay, he led eBay.com’s Event Tickets and Media businesses (including half.com) and was the business leader who led eBay’s acquisition of StubHub in 2007.
Greg focuses on investment in businesses at the juncture of retail and technology. He is our resident expert on user adoption & acquisition with significant operating experience in marketing and BD at top online retail brands.
Greg received a BA in Political Science from the University of San Diego and an MBA from Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management.
The Staples Center. Not only is it the sports and entertainment center of the world, it is a reminder of what makes Los Angeles so special. The world's best come here to compete and perform.
When I can feel the passion of the entrepreneur in every word when they speak about their business.
The day that Nordstrom formally acquired HauteLook, but not for the reasons you would have thought. We were in a very competitive space and were not the Silicon Valley or New York darling. We were underdogs and counted out amongst those "in the know." The reality was we built a team that worked harder, smarter, and directly for the benefits of our customers and business partners. We kept our eye on the ball and didn't drift despite the temptation to do so. As a result we were able to control our own destiny with a great outcome for everyone involved in the business.
Kara joined Upfront as a partner in November 2014. Kara is also co-founder of Seedling where she currently serves as Chairman. Prior to starting Seedling, Kara spent close to seven years at IAC where she acted as the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Urbanspoon and Citysearch. Prior to Urbanspoon/Citysearch, Kara co-headed the M&A group at IAC where she lead some of their most successful acquisitions, notably Urbanspoon, Dictionary.com and Aston Hotels. While at IAC, Kara also served as a board member to Hatch Labs, IAC’s mobile technology incubator, where she was the seed investor and advisor to Tinder. Kara also spent time at Morgan Stanley, Microsoft, and Battery Ventures.
Kara received her AB in Politics from Princeton University and her MBA from Stanford University.
Hollywood Bowl. I love being seconds away from the heart of urban, historical Los Angeles tucked away listening to music under the stars.
Doing too many things at once and chasing shiny objects.
Chasing my daughters around on their bikes and scooters!
Kobie is a Partner at Upfront. He joined the firm in June 2016 after having previously worked at Silicon Valley based Accel, where he was involved in investments including Campaign Monitor, UserTesting, AdRoll, Emergent VR and Invoca (also an Upfront portfolio company). Prior to Accel, Kobie was the Chief Marketing Officer at REVOLVE, one of the largest global fashion ecommerce players based in Los Angeles.
Kobie brings to Upfront expertise in SaaS businesses and marketing technologies and is an author of Growthverse, an interactive visualization of the marketing technology landscape. He has deep knowledge of emerging technologies including VR and AR and was also an early personal investor in Oculus, later sold to Facebook for $2B. Earlier in his career, Kobie helped found OpenView Venture Partners and was an investor at Insight Venture Partners where he sourced notable early investments in Exact Target (acquired by Salesforce for $2.5B) and Instructure (NYSE: INST).
Kobie received a AB in Economics from Harvard University.
I love seeing entrepreneurs that are at the forefront of creating a new industry or completely redefining old ones. I won't argue with a company succeeding via evolution, but it's more fun when you are witnessing revolution.
Virtual reality. The day my friend Brendan Iribe (CEO of Oculus) strapped an HMD to my face, I knew we were at the beginning of what will be the next paradigm of computing.
"Paris" - Kanye West and Jay Z
Kevin joined Upfront Ventures in 2012. Most recently, Kevin was at Boston Consulting Group, where he advised on strategy and operations for technology, healthcare, and industrial goods clients in the US and Asia and conducted due diligence for private equity investors. Previously, Kevin worked at Verisk Health, a healthcare IT startup in Boston, focusing on project management, product development, and consulting for strategic accounts.
Kevin received a BA in Biology from Harvard College, with a minor in Psychology
CloudMagic, it's the fastest and most comprehensive search across all my email, social and cloud storage accounts.
Downtown LA: a rapidly transforming microcosm of LA's cultural diversity, it's 10 neighborhoods crammed into one.
Go into every meeting with a sense for how you can be helpful or how the person you're meeting can be helpful to you. Try to come out with a specific, low-touch ask. If you don't ask, you don't get.
Hamet Watt is a Board Partner at Upfront Ventures. He is also co-founder and Chairman of MoviePass, a subscription service for movies in theaters, as well as co-founder and former Chairman of bLife, a wellness innovation company acquired by Canary Health in 2015.
Previously, Hamet was an entrepreneur-in-residence at True Ventures, after exiting another company that he founded called NextMedium, which was acquired by Brand Affinity Technologies. Prior to founding NextMedium, Hamet advised Nielsen Media Research in the development of the first product placement measurement service for network and cable television. Hamet was also a General Partner in the New Africa Opportunity Fund — a $120 million venture capital fund, which was the first US-backed venture fund investing in post-apartheid South Africa.
A leader in both the Los Angeles and wider entrepreneurial communities, Hamet has received numerous awards for technology innovation and entrepreneurship — including a “Top 10 Black Innovators Award” — and was named by Business Insider Magazine one of 2014’s “46 Most Important African-Americans in Technology.” He is frequently noted in the national press for innovation in media and entrepreneurship and has been featured in publications including Entrepreneur, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times and Forbes.
Hamet received a BS from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.
"Amazing" - Kanye West
A team that is so deeply immersed in the problem that they are trying to solve that they're completely absorbed by the company building process.
Wearable sensors and personal informatics. The first time I was able to see a compressive picture of my personal biometrics (heart rate, activity level, breath rate, stress levels, etc) it was like looking into a mirror for the first time.
Steve is a Board Partner at Upfront Ventures. He is also an active private equity investor and the Founder and President of AMRI Financial, Inc., a financial advisory firm working on special situation equity and debt financing, and Roundhouse Capital, LLC, a licensed California Lender that makes secured loans. He serves on the board of and is the former Chairman of Hamilton State Bancshares, a Georgia-based $2.0 billion bank focused on acquiring failed banks from the FDIC.
From 2009-2011, Steve was a Professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, teaching courses on the banking system and financial crises.
In January of 2008, Steve was appointed to be a Senior Advisor to U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson. In that capacity, and throughout the 2008/09 financial crisis, he provided counsel on a variety of financial, capital market and economic policy issues. He continued as a Senior Advisor to Treasury Secretary Geithner until June 2009.
From 1996 – 2001, Steve was a partner at Goldman Sachs in the New York, Hong Kong and Singapore offices, co-heading the firm’s Asian Principal Investment Area from 1993 to 1999. From 2001- 2006, he founded and managed a financial advisory firm in Hong Kong and a Distressed Asset Servicing business operating in southern China.
Steve graduated from University of California, Berkeley in 1981 and received a Masters degree in Business Administration from the Harvard Business School in 1986.
I love to mountain bike in the Sullivan Canyon fire trail. On Saturday mornings, I can get a great workout, see a view of the city from Mulholland drive, and get lost in the Santa Monica Mountains. What a treat.
Founders must grapple with the need to be creative, driven and decisive on the one hand, and to understand their personal limitations on the other. The best ones learn to trust themselves and to find advisors and mentors that they can rely on.
In my 18 months at the US Treasury, I had the honor to serve our country under two Presidents and two Treasury Secretaries. While we made decisions that were criticized by the right and the left, I’m proud of the work we did and our government’s overall response.
Wes Nichols is a Board Partner at Upfront Ventures and an active technology investor and advisor. Wes is serial entrepreneur and an industry authority in predictive analytics, AI/Machine Learning, and attribution, creating and scaling solutions for global brands. Wes is the author of the Harvard Business Review cover story, Analytics 2.0, on next-generation analytics to drive more predictive CMO decision-making.
Most recently, Wes was the Chief Strategy Officer at Neustar (NYSE: NSR), the leading company in authenticated identity for marketing and security. Neustar acquired his company, MarketShare, where he was co-founder and CEO. MarketShare’s analytics SaaS solutions are used by companies globally to drive resource allocation decisions and marketing investments, and is now the dominant market leader in the field of analytics, with its clients directing over $80 billion in marketing this year. MarketShare, recently acquired by Neustar for nearly a half a billion dollars, was backed by FTV Capital, Elevation Partners and Silver Lake, the world’s largest technology investor.
Prior to starting MarketShare, Wes was with Omnicom Group (NYSE: OMC) as President and CEO of TBWA’s digital business, working with Nissan, Sony, Pfizer, and other brands. Prior, he was the founder and CEO of Direct Partners, building from scratch one of the industry’s first data-driven analytics companies, which was acquired by Omnicom Group.
Wes is a member of the Board of Directors of TrueCar (NASDAQ: TRUE) and BJ’s Restaurants (NASDAQ: BJRI), the LAPD Foundation, and a Trustee of Randolph-Macon College. Wes is an active member in both Young Presidents Organization (YPO) as well as the Pacific Council on International Policy.
Wes graduated from Randolph-Macon College and The Johns Hopkins University, with degrees in Psychology and Business, respectively. He is currently enrolled in the executive education program at Harvard Business School.
I’m biased but see enormous potential in data science, artificial intelligence and analytics to drive better decision-making and automation. It is here and happening, and we are in the first inning of this exciting revolution to business.
Eager to learn, realize they don’t have all the answers, willing to sacrifice everything to have their idea make it. I want to help these people succeed.
I’m originally from Baltimore and I’m sorry it took me so long to get to LA. The Southern Californian culture of innovation, creativity and resourcefulness is like something I’ve never seen elsewhere. With the entertainment industry as the anchor industry, the region has been permanently shaped in a unique way that inspires the entrepreneurial spirit with founders as well as employees.
Brett is a Board Partner at Upfront Ventures. His entire career has been focused on growing software companies. Since 2013, Brett served as COO at SmartRecruiters, where he partnered with the founding team to convert a pre-revenue company into the fastest growing enterprise player in the recruiting technology space, serving high-profile customers like Visa, Bosch, and IKEA. Prior to SmartRecruiters, Brett was an executive at two of the fastest growing software companies in history. He spent a decade at salesforce.com where he served in a variety of senior leadership roles in Sales, R&D, and Operations focused on driving the company’s rapid growth. Prior to salesforce.com, Brett held senior marketing and business development positions at Siebel Systems, which was eventually acquired by Oracle Corporation. Brett serves on the board of SmartRecruiters, Lyrics, and Invoca, and he is an active investor and advisor to numerous entrepreneurs.
Brett has a BA from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Harvard University.
I look for the 1% - ie that idea that's just crazy enough to be truly impactful but also very hard to copy. Beyond that, I look for natural story-tellers who can connect to people emotionally and inspire them.
Your number one job is hiring. Your company will succeed or die almost entirely based on who you recruit into your cause. Everything else is secondary.
My proudest career moments without a doubt have been those where the folks I have been fortunate to mentor and manage have gone on to great things at my companies or elsewhere.
Stuart joined Upfront Ventures in April 2014 and is responsible for all non-investment activities. Before joining Upfront, Stuart was Chief Marketing Officer at CareerArc Group, a Software as a Service based social recruiting platform, where he was responsible for the marketing, business development and product development functions. Prior to CareerArc Group, Stuart was Founder and Chief Operating Officer at BuildOnline, a European Software as a Service company that was acquired by SWORD Group. Earlier in his career, Stuart was an attorney with the international law firm, Herbert Smith, where he worked on multiple corporate finance transactions including mergers, acquisitions and restructurings.
Stuart received a first class honors degree in International History and Politics from the University of Leeds and a law degree with distinction from the College of Law in London, England.
BBQing in my back yard with the family while Charlie (the dog) begs for scraps
BBC iPlayer - Keeps me up to date with all the news, sport and gossip from good old Blighty!
That's easy - the Internet. Without it I wouldn't have a career - and my wife would have to take the kids grocery shopping (her worst nightmare)
Dana joined Upfront Ventures as a Vice President in 2004 from The Walt Disney Company’s Corporate Finance group, where she was primarily responsible for the evaluation and execution of structured finance transactions. Prior to Disney, Dana worked for five years in investment banking for Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and then Credit Suisse First Boston. Her responsibilities included capital raising as well as merger and acquisition advisory services for specialty retailing, healthcare, lodging, and broadcasting clients. While in business school, Dana worked for the private equity firm Shamrock Capital Advisors.
Dana is responsible for finance and investment operations at Upfront.
Dana received her MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management where she was a Price Center Venture Fellow. She received a BS in Finance from the University of Arizona
Family pool party!
Ladies First - Queen Latifah featuring Monie Love
The iPhone. I know I’m not cool for saying that today as it is ~6 years old? But there are just so many things in my life that it enables and makes easier.
Kerry Bennett joined Upfront Ventures in January 2016 to lead marketing and branding efforts for the firm. Before joining Upfront, Kerry held leadership positions in several technology-based startups, most recently as SVP of Marketing at DogVacay, a leading online and mobile pet care marketplace. While there, she built and led the marketing team in all aspects of user acquisition, PR/communications, content and retention marketing, and creative strategy. Prior to DogVacay, Kerry was the SVP of Marketing at HauteLook, a leader in flash-sale e-commerce that was acquired by Nordstrom in 2011. Previously, she held marketing and brand strategy roles at mobile startup Helio, Grey Worldwide and Leo Burnett.
Kerry received an AB in anthropology from Princeton University.
On a good day, at a yoga studio in Santa Monica. We have so many amazing teachers within a few miles. On a lazier day, it's brunch in Venice. Both good options.
Mobile internet. I can live and work anywhere, any time, with the ability to access whatever information I need. And on a macro level, I think it's helped make us all more informed global citizens.
Know what you're great at, and as your business grows, make sure you have people with complementary skills and perspectives around you.
Michael concentrates on identifying and evaluating investment opportunities, providing support to portfolio companies, and conducting financial & business due diligence, and leading the firm’s strategic content initiatives.
Michael received a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of California.
Living in LA, home to world famous traffic, it’s hard to overstate the value and magic of Waze.
Without a doubt, mobile broadband. The ability to access all the world’s information and communicate with anyone, anywhere, on a moment’s notice has changed the world.
Build a company solving a problem that you can’t help but think about. Success doesn't happen over night and the only way to survive the inevitable low points in the journey is to be truly passionate and personally invested in the product.
Chang joined Upfront as an Associate in 2016. Most recently, she was the first Product Manager at the Minerva Project, a venture-backed, tech-enabled university for the 21st century — rethinking everything in order to offer a better education at a lower cost. She also co-founded and was the COO of an ed-tech startup in China, which is still going strong in Beijing. Previously, she was a Consultant at The Boston Consulting Group, where she advised clients across technology, retail, and healthcare sectors as well as private equity investors. Chang has also spent time at Microsoft and Jane Street Capital.
Chang received her MBA from the Harvard Business School and her AB in Applied Mathematics from Harvard University, with a minor in Computer Science.
Jogging — preferably next to a body of water or greenery — or hiking — preferably under a canopy.
Uber. Because it means that I can live in LA without having to drive everywhere. Having a bike also helps.
Surround yourself with people and hack your processes so that you can improve the rate at which you learn.
Riley joined Upfront Ventures as an Associate in 2016. Most recently, Riley was a Manager of Strategy & Analytics for Live Nation Entertainment, where he focused on building Ticketmaster’s programmatic marketing capabilities and expanding its official partner network to become a more fan and artist-friendly marketplace. Previously, he was a consultant at McKinsey & Company, working with SaaS, consumer tech, and pharmaceutical clients across a range of challenges, from go-to-market strategy to operational re-design. Riley also spent time in Credit Suisse’s Consumer & Retail investment banking group and Houlihan Lokey’s Corporate Finance group.
Riley helps identify and evaluate investment opportunities, assists with deal process management, and supports portfolio companies.
Riley received his B.S. in Economics with a Concentration in Finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Recording music in my home studio with my band or getting ready to see a show at one of my favorite venues like the Fonda or Teragram Ballroom.
It can be exhausting, but there’s nowhere on the planet that offers as unique a cross-section of humanity as Venice Beach. Best people watching I’ve ever encountered.
Spotify. Having instant access to the entirety of recorded music opened up so many paths of discovery that have been incredibly rewarding – I’m still surprised when I meet people who aren’t willing to upgrade to the paid tier of such an amazing service.
Julian received a BA in English from Dartmouth College.
I spent the first 30 years of my life in or near New York City, so Los Angeles is still fresh and exotic to me. Drop me anywhere in the city and I am inspired.
Streaming music. I spend a non-trivial portion of my waking (and sleeping, for that matter) life on Spotify and Soundcloud.
Exploring LA and SoCal with my wife Katie and our terrier mutt Nico.
Kyle joined Upfront Ventures as Product Manager in 2013. Most recently, Kyle was Director of Operations at Launchpad LA, a startup accelerator in Santa Monica, where he was responsible for identifying and evaluating investment opportunities, internal operations, and business development. Prior to Launchpad LA, Kyle was a Mechanical Engineer at Syska Hennessey Group and MSC Software where he designed and tested products using finite element analysis and other computer aided design tools.
Kyle concentrates on developing scalable solutions to share knowledge and resources within Upfront and between our portfolio companies.
Kyle attended the University of California, Irvine where he received a BS in Mechanical Engineering
Santa Monica Mountains - great bike riding and hiking overlooking the beach.
Mountain biking, playing soccer, or hanging out in parts of LA that are too tough to get to during the week (eastside, mid-city, downtown).
Right now - anything by Disclosure or Fat Freddy's Drop will help me get it done.
Audrey is responsible for assisting in accounting, finance and administration of management companies and investment funds.
Audrey joined Upfront Ventures as a Manager, Accounting & Finance in 2013. Prior to joining Upfront, Audrey was a senior at local CPA firms in both CA and CO and was responsible for business management, accounting services and tax for various companies, including non-profit organizations, private equity funds, and small and medium-sized businesses.
Audrey received a BS in Business Administration, Emphasis in Finance and Business Economics from the University of Southern California , Marshall School of Business. She is a certified public accountant and received her Certificate in Accounting from University of California Los Angeles Extension
The Grove, I frequent it A LOT.
Drama Fever because I am guaranteed entertainment if I ever have idle time.
The iPad. Traveling with a child is a lot easier when you don't have to lug around portable DVD player and DVDs.
Nancy Davila is the Executive Assistant to Yves Sisteron, Steven Dietz and Dana Kibler.
Nancy has been with the firm since its founding in 1997. She worked alongside the co-founders to establish the new office and manage admin operations for the firm and its employees. As Upfront Ventures has grown, Nancy’s responsibilities have carried over to HR assistance and supporting the CFO with fund management administration. She recently became a Notary Public to better assist with the corporate document processes.
Prior to joining Upfront Ventures, Nancy worked at Good Samaritan Hospital for ten years where she managed the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee members and meetings.
When not being Upfront’s coordinating queen, Nancy loves dinner and dancing, the great outdoors, and the occasional splurge at the mall.
Redondo Beach Pier. When I was younger, my parents would take my sister and I to eat at Tony's and would tell us stories about the jazz on the beach events they attended through the years.
Waze - it helps me maneuver through the LA traffic.
Cell phones - I love being able to call and catch up with my family and friends while in the LA traffic.
Jori Kaplan is the Executive Assistant to Mark Suster and Greg Bettinelli.
Prior to joining Upfront Ventures, Jori was the Executive Assistant to the CEO at Spark Networks and enjoys working in the evolving tech world.
Jori can be found doing anything outdoors in sunny Los Angeles and her favorite is hiking or running on the beach in Malibu. This was her reason for moving after graduating from the University of Arizona and leaving the heat back in AZ.
The Hollywood Bowl. One of my favorite summertime activities is to get friends together to picnic and then enjoy a great show!
Groupon always provides access to finding deals on fun activities that this great city has to offer!
Fitness Apps. Keeps me motivated to move and live a more active lifestyle instead of sitting on the couch and watching marathons of television shows!
Prior to joining Upfront Ventures in 2016, Naheed co-founded Simjee Textor, an independent art advisory where she managed private contemporary art collections and was responsible for art image copyrighting and licensing as well as negotiating contracts for artist collaborations with fashion brands. Her projects include the groundbreaking Art in the Streets show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and Jean Michel Basquiat’s Man Made at Sotheby’s S|2 Gallery in New York City. Naheed has produced several exhibitions at art galleries and museums. Before her career in fine arts, Naheed was the General Manager of Glacial Pace Recordings, a subsidiary of Epic Records where she was responsible for artist development and the label’s internal operations. Previously, Naheed was a Talent Payment Manager in Business Affairs at Wieden + Kennedy where she negotiated athlete and actor talent contracts for TV and radio commercials and handled clearance requests for music and art used in advertising. She has also held administrative roles in the Executive Offices of the House of Blues in Anaheim and Universal Studios Japan.
Naheed received a BA in International Relations and Spanish from USC with a minor in Art History and earned a Certificate in Music Business from UCLA Extension.
I love exploring the historic Broadway Theater District in Downtown LA - the movie palaces built in the early 1900’s are incredibly rich in social, architectural and cinematic history.
Cruisin' down the street in our '59 Convertible Impala
The Boss by James Brown
Prior to joining Upfront Ventures, Rebecca spent eight years working in a boutique retail store with a startup back in her home town of Flemington, New Jersey.
In her free time Rebecca enjoys sketching her favorite flowers, going to local concerts, and dining out at the many wonderful restaurants Los Angeles has to offer.
Pinterest! I like to try out new recipes and it makes finding and organizing them incredibly easy.
Westridge-Canyonback Park, those gorgeous views are what I moved to Los Angeles for.
By far, the smart phone. I would be lost in this big city without it.