Shasta Ventures makes Sean Flynn a managing director

Steven Loeb · January 28, 2015 · Short URL:

Flynn has been with Shasta since 2008, he became a partner in 2012

Shasta Ventures has promoted one of its partners, Sean Flynn, to managing director, the firm announced on Wednesday. With this promotion, Flynn becomes the fifth managing director at the firm, joining Rob Coneybeer, Tod Francis, Ravi Mohan, and Jason Pressman.

With this new role, not much will change for him on a day to day basis, Flynn told me in an interview, including how he interacts with the companies he invests in. Rather, the promotion is about optics, and the way that companies see him and his role at Shasta.

"This about knowing that I am making a long-term commitment to the firm," he said.

(Update: Flynn has contacted Vator to further clarify his above remark.

”In some sense my day-to-day doesn’t change because I’m still 100% committed to supporting our existing portfolio companies and also finding great new companies to get in front of," he said. "But in other ways it definitely changes, particularly as it relates to the management of the firm itself and my long-term commitment to making it successful”)

Flynn joined Shasta a little over six years ago, in late 2008, and became a partner in 2012. His primary focus is on early-stage investments on mobile-enabled consumer Internet and enterprise software startups. He currently serves on the board of directors for Bloc, Swipely, TigerText, Timehop and ZEFR, and also led the firm’s investments in Dollar Shave Club and Simple, which was acquired by BBVA.

Before joining Shasta, Flynn worked at Yahoo, most recently as a senior director of business development and business operations. His focus while at the company was on growing its communication and community products such as Yahoo Mail, Messenger, Groups and Flickr.

Prior to Yahoo, Sean was an investment banker at Morgan Stanley, where he advised technology, telecom and media companies in New York and Singapore.

It was working at Yahoo that made Flynn want to become an investor, he said.

"We were a 10,000 person driving very little innovation, while I would see 10 person companies doing more innovation things. It felt broken to me," he told me. "I wanted to work with lots of different companies, and venture was the best way to do that. Now I get to take the lessons learned from one company and apply it to the next."

When it comes to his investing strategy, Flynn said he is especially interested in the way mobile is driving innovation.

"Mobile has changed the way we use technology in our daily lives, both professionally and personally," he said. "I look for the companies that are creating the most value by leveraging mobile, and using it in compelling ways."

Founded in 2004, Shasta has made around 100 investments in that time. It typically puts between $3 to  $7 million into around 10 to 12 companies a year.

Some of the categories that the firm invests in include marketplaces, and on demand services and productivity apps, as well as companies that are on the intersection of social media and mobile, such as Whisper.

Education is another space the firm has looked at, but not made many new investments in, at least not yet. One company it did put money into was Block, and company that directs student to an online bootcamp.

"We have a shortage of developers,  and that problem is only going to increase, so Block prepares and gives people skills to get a job," said Flynn.

A big space for Shasta, though, is messaging, with investments in companies like Timehop, in which it led a $10 million round last year, and Tigertext, where it led a $21 million series B round.

Shasta Ventures raised a $300 million fund, its fourth fund overall, in June called Shasta Ventures IV. Since the firm is on a three-year fund cycle, it is still very early in the investment cycle of that fund.

The firm had previously raised a $210 million fund in 2004, with which it invested in 26 portfolio companies, followed by a $250 million fund in 2007, which funded 34 companies. Shasta's third fund, which was raised in 2011, was $265 million and funded 28 companies. 

"One thing we’re proud of as a firm, now that we’re 10 years in, is the way that we invest and back repeat entrepreneurs," Flynn said. "We invest in a previous company and the entreprenuer wants to work with us again."

That included Lyle Fong, who founded Lithium, and then recently raised $4 million for his new startup, called Hobo Labs. And Sunny Gupta, who founded Apptio, and then iConclude,  both of which recieved funding from Shasta.

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