Official Announcement

Hello 2015, Goodbye 500 Startups

PUBLISHED January 7, 2015
by Christen O'Brien

Christen O’Brien is a Co-Founder & Managing Partner at 500 Startups, and has been responsible for building & growing the Business Development group. She previously founded a media company, spent 10+ years in BD & marketing roles, and served in the Peace Corps as an English Teacher. She is based in San Francisco, and can be reached via LinkedIn or

To everything, turn, turn, turn / There is a season, turn, turn, turn… – Pete Seeger

Since 2010, my every day at 500 Startups has been nothing short of incredible and I’ve had the time of my life creating & running a Business Development powerhouse. However, after much consideration, it is with great excitement and great sadness that I am announcing my plans to step away from 500 Startups as a Managing Partner. While it isn’t easy to say goodbye to something I truly love, I am enormously proud to have been involved in building this company from day 001, and am forever indebted to my Partners, to Dave, and to the 500 team (past & present) for the camaraderie and support that made it all so possible…and so damn fun.

It’s amazing how much we’ve accomplished in 48 months… 

  • In 2010, we launched the company as a team of 6, and struggled through the expected and unexpected challenges of starting a venture capital firm with a voracious set of goals in a highly competitive market.
  • In 2011, we started our accelerator program (now ranked one of the top 10 accelerator programs in the world), raised $30 million in our first fund, invested in 200+ startups, skyrocketed our community via educational programs & content, expanded our brand into Latin America & East Asia, and amassed a following of thousands of entrepreneurs and investors around the world.
  • In 2012, we expanded the accelerator program into Mexico City, started raising our 2nd fund of $44 million, started investing in India, scaled up our B2B & SMB focus, and saw exits in Makerbot ($400+ million to Stratasys)Wildfire ($350 million to Google).  
  • In 2013, we saw our first big international exit in Viki ($200 million to Japanese E-Commerce Giant Rakuten) and expanded our corporate partners to include folks like Google & Braintree, successfully built & launched our PreMoneyinvestor brand/conference with a sold-out show, and brought the 500 brand through Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe withGeeksOnAPlane.
  • In 2014, we reached over $125 million under management, successfully launched the San Francisco accelerator (to compliment our Mountain View location), announced our new Southeast Asia regional fund (500 Durians), grew the team to 40+ members, cemented our brand identity in the areas of commerce & distribution, achieved our first $1 Billion valuation in Credit Karma, and built a twitter following of 260,000+ globally.

The future for 500 Startups is brighter than ever, and I’m confident that the team will continue driving this ship to infinity & beyond, constantly pushing limits, and finding new ways to innovate venture capital. As we’ve always said since the beginning, it is truly our community of portfolio companies, advisors, mentors, co-investors, partners, and friends who have propelled this dream into a reality. For this, I am eternally grateful to each of you.

While I will remain a 500 Founding Partner & Mentor, Tara Graham will be taking over my day-to-day responsibilities. It’s a perfect time for me to pursue my next step, precisely because I now have a leader in Tara & a team who can take the reins and ROCK.

I’ll be announcing my plans soon, but below are my contact details if you’d like to stay in touch on the interwebs:

Here’s to another amazing year…


Published by Christen O'Brien

A co-founder of 500, Christen previously founded a content company & worked in the i-banking, law, and non-profit sectors. She works hard to fund the life of her spoiled rotten Great Dane named Virginia Woof, who refuses to get a job.