Robots A top Silicon Valley venture firm is doubling down on its bet that innovation won’t stay in Silicon Valley. Here’s what its new wave of partners are betting on in 2020.

Robots A top Silicon Valley venture firm is doubling down on its bet that innovation won’t stay in Silicon Valley. Here’s what its new wave of partners are betting on in 2020.

Robots

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  • On Thursday, venture firm General Catalyst announced that Katherine Boyle, Peter Boyce, and Alex Tran were promoted to partner within the firm.
  • All three partners focus on investments outside of Silicon Valley. Boyle looks at fringe technology startups that want to work with lawmakers in Washington, D.C., Boyce is grooming first-time founders in New York, and Tran is looking for the next wave of banking startups in emerging markets around the World.
  • Boyle and Boyce will continue to invest in early-stage startups in their respective industries, while Tran will focus heavily on growth-stage investments.
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General Catalyst, one of the tech industry’s top venture firms, is betting that the California region’s reign as the epicenter of startup innovation is over.

The generalist VC firm announced a series of promotions on Thursday that reinforce its commitment to backing startups of all shapes, sizes, and locales in 2020. Principals-turned-partners Katherine Boyle, Peter Boyce, and Alex Tran all focus on investments outside Silicon Valley, and say they’re eager to throw their new partner powers around markets other VCs have been slow to warm up to.

“It’s the best of all worlds,” Boyce told Business Insider. “Of course I’m personally biased as a New Yorker, but there’s a place for all of it. Honestly I think we all get to link up and connect with parts of each geography that makes the most sense for us.”

For Boyce, that’s New York. The Harvard alum joined General Catalyst right after graduation after leading on-campus entrepreneurship initiatives, and has helped build the firm’s reputation among first-time founders at the pre-seed and seed stages through a university investment program.

“There’s something really rewarding about being the first institutional firm to take a chance on someone,” Boyce said. “I found this fits into how as a firm we think about working with founders across stages and their journey.”

General Catalyst is among the family of Silicon Valley venture firms that have lived up to the “generalist” descriptor that specialized funds have tried to adopt in an effort to diversify their portfolios. Now entering its third decade, Boston-based General Catalyst has invested in just about every stage in just about every tech-focused industry imaginable. And like other VCs, General Catalyst has had some outsized returns, like its early investment in enterprise software startup HubSpot, right alongside its fair share of flameouts. As any seasoned investor will quip, that just comes with the territory.

Robots A generalist’s approach to global growth

By balancing its Silicon Valley reputation with a substantial East Coast presence, General Catalyst is setting itself up for another “generalist” decade, and some big bets to go with it.

“I come from a small town and have been excited about companies that are building for the rest of America,” Boyle told Business Insider. “If you look at the history of early adopters of tech, it’s always techies and tinkers but others notice it can accelerate other missions.” 

Boyce and Boyle both focus on early-stage investments. Boyce tends to gravitate towards first-time founders in financial services or consumer goods, while Boyle looks for deeply technical founders who are open to working with local and federal governments. Regardless of industry, it’s imperative for investors to actively help build the ecosystems their founders operate in.

“You have a lot of really scaled satellite offices in New York regardless of where those companies’ main offices are,” Boyce said. “Those employees are able to be mentors, angel investors, and founders of new companies. They all have folks that are cross-pollinating everything. That conversation was dramatically different 5, if not 10, years ago.”

Tran, for his part, looks at companies that are farther along in their life cycles, although he also considers financial services to be a key focus area. And he thinks the next big financial services startup isn’t coming out of the United States.

“I think we are still early in the evolution of neobanks and fintech globally,” Tran told Business Insider via email. “Sitting in Silicon Valley and living in the United States, we often forget that there are still large, state-owned banks in many countries around the World. Most of these banks were built in another era. Some were originally established to serve the public good, but just haven’t been able to innovate to keep up with changing consumer demands.”

With its second decade under its belt and a fresh crop of partners, Tran said the firm is ready to tackle some of the World’s biggest problems going forward.

“I think GC stays ahead of the curve on neobanks — and any industry really — by continuing to seek out and learn from the most mission-driven, ambitious entrepreneurs out there. That’s table stakes,” Tran said.

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