TheBridge profile: Katherine Boyle
Name: Katherine Boyle
Current city: San Francisco, CA
Current job: Venture capitalist at General Catalyst
Past job: Staff reporter at The Washington Post
Q. Favorite spot for a coffee meeting? Blue Bottle for starting rumors. Any SF Starbucks for privacy. Taco Bell on 3rd to test how awesome someone is.
Q. Describe one skill you learned in a previous job that helped you in your current job. I often say that my old and new job are virtually identical except that a reporter writes stories while a VC writes checks. Sourcing leads, asking questions, researching unknown areas, doing diligence--the jobs are very similar, with the biggest difference being the level of certainty and tolerance for risk or inaccuracy. The best part about VC is that you have long relationships with founders after investment, something I didn't get with my subjects as a reporter. As for the skillset, my editors at The Washington Post taught me how to read people closely and to ask tough questions to get to the truth quickly. That's probably the best training a venture capitalist could receive.
Q. Job advice in three words? Send cold emails
Q. How are you (or your company, org, nonprofit) currently bridging the gap between politics and tech? At General Catalyst, we're all generalist investors, but I tend to focus on frontier technology companies in highly-regulated spaces or companies that have government as a customer. Many venture firms in the Valley don't like companies that sell to government, but we embrace those opportunities. We also invest in emerging spaces where regulation offers a business moat. Some of the most interesting problems that tech can solve emerge in times of regulatory change, and we're eager to work with founders who appreciate that challenge.
Q: Most underrated virtue in an employee? Independent thought. We pretend to love the contrarians, but most companies shun those individuals who don't conform or ask too many questions about the status quo. The best companies, social structures and investment firms institute contrarianism in culture or procedure, and they encourage rigorous thinking through routine if hierarchy gets in the way.
Q: What can DC teach Silicon Valley? Macro thinking.
Q: What can Silicon Valley teach DC? Elegant, swift execution.
Q: Last time you were completely unplugged? On a recent flight from Washington. I read John Carreyrou's "Bad Blood" instead, which was a much more enjoyable use of time than reading Twitter.
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