The global opportunity for tech: Why I’m joining White Star Capital as a Venture Partner
By Henry Davis
This year has been a watershed moment for our industry. Macroeconomic conditions, geopolitical concerns, and the public market’s harsh judgment of the sector have all hit valuations and capital availability across the board. While this is definitely a challenging time for the startup scene, it is also one replete with opportunities.
I have spent my entire career in tech, including roles as a VC at Index, COO/CFO at Glossier, and latterly a proud co-founder of Chord Commerce. There are three themes that I see for the startup industry moving forward.
1 - Capital efficiency and unit economics will be the driving force
The last decade has been essentially a zero-interest rate environment. With interest rates already up significantly higher (and more hikes yet to come), the return hurdle rate for investment of capital will be that much higher and the availability of capital correspondingly lower and more expensive. This will lead to deep focus on unit economics and capital efficiency as indicators of fundamental value creation.
2 - Businesses will move faster (and smarter)
The explosion of the startup scene over the last decade means there is a vast pool of talent and experience to draw from. Combined with the rise of supporting technologies, everything from Snowflake to Stripe. many companies will find they can do more, quicker, and cheaper. That said, the same opportunities will power greater competition, which will in turn drive more innovation.
3 - Everything will be more international
Many of the core challenges that technology has the power to solve are global in nature, whether this be climate or security. Fueled by a more international and fungible market for talent and capital, startups will both be able to be founded in more places, and scale internationally more quickly.
In keeping with the themes above, White Star Capital is on a similar growth trajectory. It is a global firm growing expeditiously and effectively. I believe it is very well placed for this next era of technology investing.
With a presence across North America, Europe, the Middle East, and APAC, along with a highly internationally-minded team, White Star can source startups from around the world and then support those businesses as they expand internationally. With a team of operators and financiers with broad experience, White Star can help businesses move faster, judiciously.
This has certainly been my experience working closely with White Star as a Co-founder and now Chairman of White Star portfolio company Chord, as it grows rapidly. Whenever I faced a deeply strategic decision point, White Star was one of my first calls, as I always received uniquely nuanced, thoughtful and actionable advice.
The startup ecosystem has changed significantly over the last decade or so. I am lucky to have experienced many different parts of this change. I have lived in three different countries and done business in countless more. I have been a venture capitalist, an operator and a founder, across stages in both consumer and B2B, and I have sold everything from moisturizer to software. In the cliched words of Walt Whitman, I contain multitudes.
I am excited to bring this experience to bear in helping White Star’s growth and that of its portfolio companies as a Venture Partner, and look forward to leaning into this new world order with a firm that is well established to help entrepreneurs capitalize on it.