EQT Ventures, a Europe-based investment firm that has raised over EUR 1.2 billion (US $ 1.4 billion), announced it has promoted Laura Yao to partner. At the same time, the company announced that it had recently hired Anne Raimondi, former SVP of Operations at Zendesk, as an operational partner.
The company is based in Stockholm and has offices in London, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam and Luxembourg. Yao works in the US office in San Francisco, where she worked for three years prior to her recent promotion to partner. She says the company tends to hire people with experience as operators because they have good relationships with the founders of startups they invest in.
“Our goal is to partner with the most ambitious and courageous founders in Europe and the US and, so to speak, be the investors we all wished for when we were on the other side of the table,” said Yao.
Yao’s background includes co-founding a startup called The PhenomList in 2011. While she is responsible for finding new investments, Raimondi works with the existing portfolio of companies, especially B2B SaaS companies, helping them with practical aspects of building it up of a startup such as go-to-market strategy, organizational design, executive recruitment, and other components of company building.
“I joined as an operational partner earlier this year, so I’m not on the investment side, but instead focus on working with existing founders of portfolio companies as they grow and scale,” said Raimondi.
Unfortunately, female partners like Yao and Raimondi remain a rarity in most venture companies. According to a Crunchbase report last April, only 3% of investors are women, and over two-thirds of companies don’t have a single woman as a partner.
EQT has a male to female ratio of 50/50, although the partners were all male until Yao was promoted and Raimondi was hired. That makes two out of six when the company tries to get the investment team to reflect the rest of the company and the population at large.
Part of Raimondi’s job is to talk to startups about building diverse and equitable organizations, and she and Yao know the company needs to model this. She says that on the product side, successful startups understand that to build a successful product, they start with a hypothesis and then develop goals and metrics to test, learn, and then iterate over.
She says they have to do the same to build a diverse and inclusive company. That starts with defining what diversity and inclusion look like and setting up metrics to measure their progress.
“You evaluate [your diversity goals] and hold [the company] responsible for what you signed up for. If you don’t meet her [you look at] What can you do to improve it? Then look at how you iterate further and then constantly measure the employee experience in many dimensions, including not just diversity but the important part of belonging, ”said Raimondi.
Both women say their company does a good job here and their hiring / promotion proves it. Yao says the organization as a whole has created a comfortable and inclusive culture. “It’s very cooperative and egalitarian. Anyone can say whatever they think. It’s very non-hierarchical and a convenient place for a woman to work. I felt immediately welcome and my ideas were immediately welcome, ”she said.
The company portfolio includes startups in the USA and Europe and the company sees itself as a bridge between the two locations. The companies EQT has invested in include bug bounty startup HackerOne, website building technology Netlify, and quantum computer startup Seeqc.