Canvas Venture Fund, the early-stage investment firm that spun out of Morgenthaler Ventures late last year, has a new member: none other than NEA veteran Paul Hsiao. Hsiao has joined Rebecca Lynn, Gary Morgenthaler and Gary Little as a managing partner and founding member.
With 10 years of VC investing at NEA under his belt, Hsiao is known for working with entrepreneurs to build enterprise software and marketplace companies, including Houzz, Gaikai, Boingo, Elance-oDesk, SayMedia and 42Floors.
Additionally, over the last 10 years, he has been involved with seven companies that have gone public on NYSE and NASDAQ.
Founded in 1978, NEA is a legendary firm that covers the gamut from seed to growth-stage investing. Canvas, meanwhile, is less than a year old, has $14 billion in assets under management, focuses exclusively on early-stage funding. So why the change?
Prior to becoming a VC, Hsiao was an entrepreneur. He was the co-founder and founding president of Mazu Networks, a network security company that was built on technology that was developed at MIT. Today, the company is a division of Riverbed Technology and provides IT organizations with the tools and technology to manage and optimize their businesses.
Hsiao says he’s still an entrepreneur at heart.
“NEA is a strong firm and a great platform. At the same time, Canvas—being small and focused—will give me the benefit, flexibility and time to collaborate closely with my partners, go deep in one sector together, take a thesis driven approach by carefully mapping the space, and work with CEOs as a collegiate group,” said Hsiao. “This group together is a powerhouse in marketing and go-to-market help.”
Of course, Canvas isn't small potatoes either. Together, the team's investments include Check (recently acquired by Intuit for $360 million), Lending Club, Evernote, and more.
On his investing focuses and the types of startups he plans to hone in on at Canvas, Paul Hsiao said:
“I love vertical SaaS services that also create large professional networks and marketplaces. Houzz, 42floors, Gaikai, and Elance are all great examples. My thesis at Canvas will be an extension of a similar theme and hope to branch into more verticals and transform more large industries.”
Some sectors that Hsiao is particularly interested in right now include education, mobile enterprise, marketplaces, senior care, real estate, job training and gaming.
“Paul brings a great deal of understanding and empathy to the job because he was a startup founder himself,” said Canvas General Partner, Gary Little, in a statement. “He has the same profile as the entrepreneurs we back and want to continue backing – sharp, driven and bold.”
Photo credit: Ching Wu, Canvas Venture Fund