Interview with Jason Green, Emergence Capital

Hands together touching fists

Jason Green InteviewJason Green, Partner at Emergence Capital (left) and Phil Wickham, CEO of Kauffman Fellows (right).

Jason Green is a Founder and General Partner of Emergence Capital. He has been in the venture business for over 15 years and backed 7 “Unicorns” so far in his career (Visual Networks, DoubleClick, Ask Jeeves, aQuantive, SuccessFactors, Box, and Yammer). He serves on the board of the National Venture Capital Association, and he was the Founding Chairman for the Kauffman Fellows Program.

Phil Wickham leads Kauffman Fellows, a two-year, highly sought after fellowship program designed to develop, inspire and network the next generation of diverse venture capitalists.  Phil leads a society of more than 400 VCs who have come through the program, with the goal of supporting entrepreneurship globally.

Phil: What investment makes you proudest?

Jason: Probably ServiceMax because it was literally like three guys when we invested. And it was a bet on two things: one, on the platform, the cloud platform that Salesforce was building, and, secondly, that there was going to be a new set of functional or vertical opportunities being built on that platform that could be a multibillion dollar business. We had to craft the team basically from scratch, and we’ve now raised three or four rounds of capital, built the business 100 percent, compounded for seven years. I’ve definitely invested in companies that have had bigger outcomes than ServiceMax, but in terms of our ability to help craft the outcome, and the influence we had, it feels really good. It feels like we moved the needle of opportunity.

Phil: Has there been a venture capital ethic or rule, that you learned from somebody else, that you tend to live by, more than others?

Jason: People create the opportunities. People create markets. And I think there’s a kind of general sentiment of picking a market or picking technology or picking great people. For me, personally, I also come back to great people make great opportunities. They catalyze it, so that it may not exist if the right person doesn’t go after it. The pattern recognition that you develop over many of years of seeing truly great people, ambitious, hugely ambitions people, go out and create that energy and aggregate the resources you need to go after those opportunities, that’s the difference between the mega-returns and the modest returns. It comes down to people. And I think those great people are also really good at attracting amazing people around them because nobody does it alone.

Phil: What app is on your phone—that you are not an investor in—that would most surprise people?

Jason: My favorite recent app that is kind of different is Carousel, which allows me access to my pictures. I think the number of photos that we’re taking now is kind of mind-boggling, and they’re all on your phone, and so how do you get access to those moments?

Phil: Go into the future the next five to ten years, what are you most optimistic about?

Jason: The thing I’m most excited about is the next the next decade is I think technology is about 20 percent of our GDP overall, but in 10 or 20 years I think more than half of the economy will be technology. So, think about the massive transformation that occurs in 20 years. And if you think about the few trillion dollars of technology wealth today, it could become a $20 trillion wealth-creation opportunity in the next 20 years. It’s so big you can’t really wrap your brain around it. But who’s going to capture that? That’s the big question.

Phil: Diversity? What your view is on it, and what is your best assessment of the core problem and what is that unsolvable problem?

Jason: In certain businesses, diversity enhances the opportunity. In venture capital, that’s probably more so than any other industry, in the sense that conventional wisdom is death in the VC world. So, if you want to be contrarian, if you want to think out of the box, about what that potential upside is, having a diversity of opinions that are unique and different, but also respectful, is just the absolute core of being a great firm.

Phil WickhamPhil Wickham is CEO of the Kauffman Fellows. Phil was in the Charter Class of the Kauffman Fellows Program, serving his fellowship under Ed Kania at OneLiberty Ventures in Boston, and was founding Vice-Chairman of the KF Board. Prior to joining the CVE staff, Phil served as a General Partner at JAFCO America Ventures and at Copan, based in Munich, Germany. In his venture career, Phil made over 30 investments, including Twitter, Ikanos, Web Methods, Com21, and Trilibis. Phil received his BSME from the University of Arizona and his MBA from Rensselaer. He serves on the boards of Trilibis and Lawson America.