TLDR: The toplines from Kirsten Green’s stellar NYT profile.
With the Jet.com and Dollar Shave Club exits, Forerunner Ventures is on a tear. Partner Kirsten Green gets profiled by the NYT and we break it down. (529 words)
SAN FRANCISCO — CB Insights, in conjunction with the New York Times, released a list of The Top 20 Venture Capitalists Worldwide last week. Among them were two names Lean Luxe readers should by now be well familiar with: Forerunner Venture’s Kirsten Green at number 12, and Lightspeed Venture Partner’s Jeremy Liew* right below her at lucky number 13.
Needing a strong story to add texture to the narrative, the Times clearly saw Green as the most interesting figure in the lineup. That’s justifiable: At Forerunner, she’s involved with a growing list of ‘name brand’ MLCs and DTC upstarts, Warby Parker, Bonobos, Glossier, Away, M.Gemi (FYI: you’ll want to read our sit down with President Cheryl Kaplan), among them.
Not that she needed the Times’ validation. With the recent Jet.com and Dollar Shave Club exits, Forerunner is on a tear right now. Even so, it’s always a small cause for celebration when key figures in the modern luxury space get front page recognition like this.
We’ve plucked the top highlights for you…
Forerunner’s “bonanza of returns” came from specialization:
“So Ms. Green, 45, parlayed that retail knowledge into her venture capital endeavors and used it to bring specialized advice to her companies. In one of her first moves as a venture capitalist, she was part of a $1 million investment into Dollar Shave Club, then a tiny company, which sells razors to consumers online. Later, she invested in Jet.com, an e-commerce start-up that was vocal about wanting to take on Amazon.
Last year, both those start-ups hit the jackpot: Unilever bought Dollar Shave Club for $1 billion, while Walmart purchased Jet.com for $3.3 billion. For Ms. Green, that translated into a bonanza of returns.”
In fact, specialization is what makes Forerunner different from other VC firms:
“[U]nlike many generalist venture investors, who work in a range of areas, Ms. Green focuses specifically on commerce and other retail-related start-ups.”
She spotted the DTC opportunity — and grasped its implications — very early on:
“She…concluded that online commerce would underpin the next generation of important retail brands, but that consumers would not rely on just one way to shop. With the rise of Amazon and other online retailers, Ms. Green saw more bankruptcy filings from traditional retailers, as well as news of store closings and reports of market share shifts. But she also saw stores do well when companies could make an emotional connection with shoppers and better analyze their behavior.
‘Retail is now totally propelled by consumers and their needs,’ she said. ‘People can buy what they want in any way that they want it. That trend started a long time ago, and it has really changed everything.’”
She hasn’t been perfect:
“She has also had her share of flops. Threadflip, an online consignment store in which she had invested, shut down last year and became part of Le Tote, a service that lets users rent clothing.”
Ending on an optimistic note:
“Now that people are bombarded with information, we are in a golden age where brands matter,” Ms. Green said. “I want to be part of this new era.”
(*Disclosure: LSVP is a Lean Luxe sponsor.)