Introducing Our New Partner – Jamey Sperans
by Brad Feld
We are excited to announce that Jamey Sperans is joining Foundry Group as a partner.
When we started Foundry Group in 2006, we were very clear that we were not going to build a legacy venture capital firm; one meant to outlive its founders. There would be no generational planning, no transitions to younger partners, and no senior partner hold-outs who would hang onto economics well after they had stopped working. Simply put, when we are done investing, we will drop the mic and shut off the lights.
In 2014, we (Seth, Jason, Ryan, and Brad) had the first of many conversations about our long-term plans for Foundry Group. These discussions resulted in the creation of Foundry Group Next, the addition of Lindel Eakman to our team, and our first Foundry Group Next fund which we closed in 2016.
We continued these conversations on a regular basis. The 20-year view of Foundry Group that we had created in 2006 was a decade old and, when we reflected on this, we realized that we had far exceeded in a decade what we had expected to accomplish in 20 years. This caused us to step back and extend our time horizon further into the future. As part of this, we reaffirmed to each other that we would work together professionally for the duration of our careers.
As we have stated in prior posts, the venture business is an inherently challenging one to scale. Leverage – of time, capacity, and capabilities – is hard to achieve. Our ability to continue to manage our business effectively was limited by our individual time and capacity.
However, when we started Foundry Group, we decided we never wanted to have a large team. We had experienced that in prior firms and felt we could create a much more effective firm, and better returns, with a small team that had direct and continuous interaction with the founders and executives that we fund. We also didn’t want the organizational overhead of building a firm beyond the principal investors, so one of our deeply held beliefs was never to have associates, venture partners, or EIRs as part of our firm.
When we added Lindel, we made a short list of other people that we’d consider adding. We had several requirements, including that they be people we’d worked with in some capacity since at least the inception of Foundry Group, that they be functional peers of ours, and that they be able to meaningfully add leverage to what we were doing on a daily basis, without changing our strategy beyond the one we defined originally with Foundry Group and then extended with Foundry Group Next.
In the spring of 2017, we added Chris Moody to our team. We’d worked with Moody as an executive, entrepreneur, CEO (of Gnip, which we were investors), and board member going back to the formation of Techstars in 2006, where Moody was a mentor in the very first program. Moody immediately gave us leverage by taking over board seats from us, and he has been off to the races as a board member with a particular focus on our B2B SaaS-related companies where he has some of the most scaled experience of any exec we’ve worked with.
The other name on our list was Jamey Sperans. Jamey, like Lindel, was an early and significant investor in the first Foundry Group fund in 2007 through his role at Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners (“AIP”), where he’s been a Managing Director of Private Equity since 2001. Jamey was introduced to us by Fred Wilson at USV, who also originally introduced Lindel to us. Like Lindel, Jamey was an early investor in the first USV fund. He and Lindel have invested in numerous other funds together over the years.
In addition to making fund investments, Jamey and the team at AIP also had a co-investment strategy. As part of this, they co-invested alongside of promising investments from their managers across a wide spectrum of industries and company stages. Over the years, Jamey and AIP co-invested with us in a number of companies.
As with Lindel and Moody, Jamey became an extremely close friend to us over the past decade. In addition, Lindel and Jamey have worked together on a number of fund investments, sat on Advisory Boards together, and become best friends in their own right.
Jamey joins us to help execute our Foundry Group Next strategy. He’ll bring both his fund investing experience along with his co-investment experience to us, working alongside Lindel to help build our partner fund portfolio, while working closely with GPs to identify early and growth-stage opportunities for us to make direct investments in, such as the ones we’ve already done in Formlabs, HelloSign, Pilot, and WorkMarket.