FirstMark Capital is one of the most successful early-stage VCs in NYC. With investments in Airbnb, Frame.io, Shopify, Pinterest, InVision, and Brooklinen, among many others, the firm is now looking to grow its internal roster.
Today, FirstMark Capital is announcing the addition of a new partner, Catherine Ulrich.
Ulrich started out at Harvard, where she was the Coxswain for the men’s crew team, and then moved on to a job as a business analyst for a strategy consultant firm in New York after graduating.
From there, she moved on to Weight Watchers and began to climb the ranks. In 2006, she started out as a Strategic Business Analyst and by July of 2013 she had risen to Chief Product Officer. At the end of 2014, Ulrich moved to Shutterstock, where she also served as CPO. She oversaw and learned from the company’s investment in machine learning and has a real passion for the intersection between machine learning and the consumer.
FirstMark has truly grown to be one of the better-known firms in New York. It has had four early stage funds (each ranging between $200 million and $275 million) as well as two ‘opportunity funds,’ to allow FirstMark to participate in follow on rounds for its brightest stars.
Ulrich said that FirstMark’s obsession with its entrepreneurs is what led her to the gig.
“If I’ve spent my career being customer obsessed, then these guys are entrepreneur obsessed,” said Ulrich. “They support entrepreneurs from introduction all the way through their journey. They’ve even built software for Monday meetings tracking intros to talent as they move through the firm.”
She called FirstMark “the company behind the company”, and said she loved that aspect of the firm.
We also asked Ulrich about joining a well-established VC firm in the current landscape of the tech world, which is saturated in news around discrimination, harassment, and a lack of diversity.
“Diversity is critical to any business or any team, and this is one of the great things about New York,” said Ulrich. “New York is a melting pot and the more diversity you get around the table, the better decisions you make. Personally,” she continued, “I’m excited for the day when a partner can join a VC firm and it not be about if it’s a man or a woman, but be about his or her accomplishments. But the point is that we’re not there yet.”
Ulrich owes her success, in part, to knowing the difference between what is important and what’s urgent.
“I’ve learned the difference between what’s important and what’s urgent,” she explained in an interview with The Every Girl. “Dwight Eisenhower hit the nail on the head with his quote: ‘Urgent things are not always important, and important things are almost never urgent.’”
As she begins her VC career, Ulrich is particularly interested consumer-oriented AI as well as health tech companies, as she has experience in both of those realms.