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 christenobrien.com.
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…