Others Say It Best

“Brian is a rare talent. He’s an extraordinary leader, an analytical powerhouse and a charismatic communicator. He gives his team members ownership and holds them accountable for results — while supporting them and providing smart insights to guide their work.

Brian’s growth expertise is deep, rigorous and drives results. Always open to new ideas and experimentation, he also brings excellent strategic judgement and prioritization to his work. His personal style consists of that rare combination of humility and power — bringing out the best in those around him. Any company would be lucky to count Brian among its leaders.”

– Jaleh Bisharat, former CMO at Amazon, Opentable, Eventbrite and UpWork

“Brian is an outstanding leader who consistently brings out the best in himself and all those who work with him. Brian has an innate sense to focus on opportunities that bring immediate results, and accomplishes his objectives in a positive and collaborative way that endears him to the broader team. Brian’s work ethic, intelligence, experience, intuition and leadership have made him a key player within and beyond marketing.”

– Eric Grosse, Co-Founder of Hotwire.com and former CEO of TaskRabbit

Professional Background

I’m a Partner at Defy, a new early-stage venture capital firm (started in 2017 with $151M fund I, and now our $262M fund II).  We typically invest $3-10M as the series A lead or co-lead (sometimes a bit earlier, sometimes a bit later), and have about 25 portfolio companies across consumer, enterprise, and a bit of deep tech.  We’re generalists, though I spend a lot of time on marketplaces and SaaS.  Example investments include:

  • Aalto – The private real estate market; a different way to buy & sell homes.
  • Novi – A B2B data platform helping consumer product companies source safer and more sustainable ingredients. Board of Directors.
  • PocketSuite – Mobile tools empowering ‘solopreneurs’ to run their business all over text.
  • Snapwire – Custom photos/videos marketplace helping brands (like Google, Intuit, Zagat) source unique visual content from a network of 800,000+ photographers around the world. Board of Directors.

Previously, I helped grow Eventbrite from a startup into the world’s largest event technology platform and live experiences marketplace. As Eventbrite’s first VP of Growth, CMO, and VP/GM of the company’s largest segment of revenue, played a key role scaling more than 10x globally to $300M in revenues, and through our IPO (NYSE: EB) with a nearly $3B market cap.

I served as VP & GM of Eventbrite’s self-service business/product with global revenue responsibility ($100M+ revenue line). I led a cross-functional team spanning product, engineering, analytics, marketing, finance, and others to grow our business around the world.  I was also Eventbrite’s first Head/VP of Growth, and was interim CMO for six months stepping in at the request of our CEO. Select areas of responsibility in these roles:

– Leadership of a 50+ person global marketing team working to grow Eventbrite across four continents.
– Co-founded our cross-functional growth team, working with product, UX, engineering, & analytics to rigorously test and scale creative data-driven user growth strategies.
– More than tripled our viral conversion rate of event attendees into event creators, driving massive near zero-cost customer growth – a key strength listed in our IPO prospectus.
– Responsibility for global user acquisition efforts including paid and organic channels, inbound/demand generation, as well as our category-focused marketing efforts
– Built out our SEO program from scratch to being listed as a key strength in our IPO filing. Over this span the team grew SEO traffic 20x to hundreds of millions of annual visits.
– Led growth analytics to measure, learn, and make data-informed decisions

Each year, Eventbrite serves hundreds of thousands of event creators and 100M+ active ticket buyers around the globe, generating billions of dollars in ticket sales since inception. Eventbrite was backed by Sequoia Capital and is now public on the NYSE (EB).

Before Eventbrite I was Co-Head of Marketing at TaskRabbit where I helped to 3x our core business volume over my tenure, and co-authored the strategy that led to TaskRabbit’s successful pivot to a more tightly-managed marketplace.  I joined TaskRabbit via acquisition of my own company SkillSlate, which I co-founded and ran product & marketing for.  I started my career as a Product Manager for Yahoo!’s marketplace businesses where I was an early “growth PM” (before it was an actual title), focused on consumer product, SEO, conversion optimization, traffic acquisition, and any other growth lever we could find.

A few things that I think make my experience unique:

  • I have been an operator through nearly every startup stage: from company founding (SkillSlate which was seed funded and two others that were bootstrapped), through series A, B and C (TaskRabbit), and series C to IPO (Eventbrite).
  • I’m an entrepreneur.  I have founded three businesses, including one VC-backed startup.
  • I have worked on marketplace businesses for nearly 15 years.
  • I was the youngest Product Manager at Yahoo!, and the youngest Vice President at Eventbrite, at the time of each promotion.
  • My experience spans multiple functions: product management, marketing, cross-functional growth, and GM responsibilities (with $XXX million dollar revenue responsibility).
  • I have been on “on both sides of the table” having raised VC funding, made several early-stage investments as a VC and angel investor.  Similarly I have participated in both sides of M&A, selling my startup SkillSlate to TaskRabbit, acquiring several niche internet businesses through forming my own micro-PE fund, as well as working on the deal teams for multiple international acquisitions at Eventbrite.

Speaking & Press

I speak at conferences, guest lecture at Stanford GSB and Haas School of Business, participate in startup industry events, and sometimes appear in the press.  You can see some examples here with videos or links to articles.

Startup Investing & Advising

Prior to becoming a full-time VC, I was an angel investor and growth advisor to several startups.  I was a member of Sequoia Capital’s scout program where I made several early-stage investments (angel, seed, series A) through Sequoia’s seed fund.  I am also a member of First Round’s Angel Track — a community for angel investors— joining as one of 15 people selected to the inaugural cohort from 500+ applicants.  Additionally, I advised startups independently and via the First Round Capital Expert Network, a carefully curated community of experts, helping First Round startups solve their biggest challenges.  Here are a few example companies that I work with:

  • Attentive Mobile (2017 – Present) – Advisor from seed stage. Attentive Mobile is a personalized mobile messaging platform for innovative brands and organizations. Attentive is founded by prior founders of TapCommerce ($100M+ exit to Twitter) and backed by more than $163M in funding Sequoia Capital, IVP, Bain Capital Ventures & others.
  • Wonderschool (2018 – Present) – Investor in series A round. Wonderschool is building a marketplace to help people achieve economic empowerment by creating micro-entrepreneurs out of educators, and to help millions of hard-working parents find better childcare. Backed by $24M from A16Z, First Round, & more.
  • Stealth Startup (2018 – Present) – Investor in the seed round of a bottom-up / self-service SaaS startup founded by a serial entrepreneur tackling a very large market in need of new thinking.
  • FundersClub (2012 – Present) – nvestor in 2012 seed round. FundersClub is the world’s first online startup investing platform, with $105M+ invested in 280+ startups, generating $7.6B of portfolio valuation across companies like Coinbase, Instacart, Flexport, Teespring, & more. FundersClub is backed by YC, First Round, Spark, Andreessen Horowitz, and more.
  • Earnest (2015 – 2017) – Growth advisor to Earnest, a merit-based lender with a unique approach to personal lending and credit. Backed by Andreesen Horowitz, Battery Ventures, First Round Capital, and more. Acquired in October 2017 by Navient (Nasdaq: NAVI) for $155M.
  • LifeLock (2016) – Growth advisor to LifeLock (NYSE: LOCK) leading up to the company’s $2.3B sale to Symantec in November of 2016.  LifeLock is the industry leader in identity protection.
  • Immediately (2015 – 2016) – Investor in company’s 2015 seed round. Immediately was a mobile platform for modern sales professionals. Acqui-hired by New Relic.

Outside of Work

I’m one of the rare San Francisco Bay Area natives, and have lived here for all but six years of my life (four years in LA and two years in NYC).  I currently live in the Bay Area with my wife Kelly, our three children, and our yellow lab Addie.  I’m a big USC football fan, I play guitar, I am passionate about fitness, and I love good food and great red wine.

Follow me on Twitter

Find me on LinkedIn