Hi, I’m Chris. I am an early stage investor and advisor. I’m based in NYC, but I’m most at home on the internet.
As an investor, I was most recently leading gaming and creative technology investments for Samsung NEXT Ventures, Samsung Electronics’ early stage venture capital arm, in NYC. I am also a Venture Partner and Advisor to Joyance Partners & SocialStarts.
Before I became an investor, I was a Director of Product at Vimeo & VHX working on helping video creators monetize and distribute their video online. Before that, I managed new product development for Samsung’s NYC R&D lab where I worked with internal product leads and the world’s best content partners to re-imagine Samsung’s TV platform and SDK. My startup origins date back to 2011, when I moved to New York to build Shelby.tv (TechStars NY ‘11) with some talented people. Our team was acquired by Samsung in 2014 to help build the future of TV.
I’m a native New Yorker, have lived in 6 states and been to all 50. I occasionally play DOTA2, so if you play, hit me up on Twitter for a game!
I’m excited to invest in founders that have a very strong view on the world they want to live in, are insatiably curious, and approach building a company with a user-first perspective. Often, these founders are people who are technical enough or scrappy enough to build their first prototype themselves and self-aware about where their shortcomings lie (and how to build the right team around them).
When I work with founders, I try to be helpful mostly around product strategy & go-to-market, organizational/product growth, and fundraising.
I have found several guiding themes in my career and in investments that naturally catch my eye. If you ever want to talk about these with me, please reach out on Twitter!
I’m really interested in the confluence of many of these themes and their corresponding effects on technology, companies, work styles, human interactions, cultures, and civilizations:
Connecting individuals with ultimate potential. This is the center of what the internet provided me (access to new and interesting ideas, people, music, internet culture, and more). It’s often heightened by large networks with low friction between nodes. My work at Shelby.tv was focused a lot on video discovery as a means of addressing this larger theme of helping people discover new things in the world (and new things about themselves). My investment in Eternal stems from a similar place of wanting to see more intimate, fun communities on the Internet that unlock peoples’ ability to just be themselves.
Humans and their personal relationship with computers. Steve Jobs is famously attributed to the quote “a computer is the equivalent of a bicycle for the mind.” IMO, the endgame here is a fusion of computing and the mind. Mobile technology is just one step and we have a long way to go. I’ve worked on HCI challenges around TV and video at Shelby.tv and Samsung, and companies like Supermedium and Statespace are pushing forward the ways humans interact on other computing platforms (in VR and in game engines, specifically).
The evolution of the peer-to-peer internet and networks on it. I’ve been a fan of early P2P technology and internet protocols since I was a kid. Today, I am excited by technologies like Bitcoin, crypto networks and P2P wireless mesh networks - these are all a signal of where I think the internet is headed over the next few decades. As mobile computing power increases and the infrastructure for these new decentralized technologies matures, I think we’ll see a shift in how many of the huge networks on the web are structured (from centralized where much compute happens in the cloud toward decentralized where more compute happens on the edge).
Extending the self with code and portable, open standards that enable data portability, privacy and user control. Modern software development is amazing and enabled by a host of developer friendly tools and technologies. The rise of devops, APIs, lambda functions, GraphQL, mobile SDKs and containers allow for quick scaling and faster execution on new ideas. More recently, no-code tools like Airtable, Coda, and Zapier have made it possible for almost anyone to build simple apps (personal CRM, anyone?). As these tools mature even further and users demand more personalization and control of their data, I expect that each of us will want to write software that goes to work for us (probably without writing code), rather than house our data in inflexible tools and use UIs that have been designed without our specific needs in mind. I would love to see an internet that fosters this sense of individual control of our data and computing resources rather than putting our data and compute experience fully in control of a few large companies.
How & Why I Work
I love the messiness of early stage companies and products.
I love helping founders and their teams “level up” and fully relish the emotional journey that is building products and a company. This means celebrating successes, learning from failures, measuring progress along the way and generally reflecting on not just the work that the team is doing, but how and why they are doing that work. Having been a PM at various stages of company, this is something deeply engrained in my ideal product development process.
I’m an introvert (INTJ) and believe in the “headphone rule.” Maker’s time is sacred and should be protected. Generally, this means I favor asynchronous communication where possible and empowering teams to do their best work on their own terms (giving people ownership and responsibility are key to doing this). This means respecting different work styles - too often introverts in the workplace can be overwhelmed by a constant barrage of meetings and demands coming their way, which can make prioritization and focus difficult. For this reason, I’m bullish about the shift to remote-first work. But don’t worry, I still believe in the power of collaboration that comes with small teams (5-7 people) co-locating to solve tough problems.
“Be human” is a core value of how I build products and work with teams - human centered design principles are great for building products, but they’re also a great way to approach growing a team and thinking about engaging investors. Putting oneself in another person’s shoes is a great way to better understands how their motivations might differ. Having lived inside of startups, bigger companies and in the shoes of a VC, I have a firsthand perspective on how many of these folks operate in their day-to-day and try to bring this perspective to my interactions with each.
The psychology behind products excites me. Humans are complex animals but boiling things down to their simplest elements in the product design process is really enjoyable for me. I’m always asking myself “why” a user is engaging with any new product I try and what other substitutes they might be considering. This is probably why I’ve gravitated toward consumer technology investing as I think it’s one of the most difficult and challenging things I could possibly be doing to flex my “product psychology” muscle.
While I enjoy bringing order to the chaos that commonly occurs in quickly growing companies I believe Loose Coordination > Tight Synchronization. As a result, I look for ways to enable this loose coordination and clear prioritization as a means of dealing with complexity. Sometimes this means “saying no” to distracting projects, sometimes it means juggling new ones, sometimes it means abstracting and distilling similar challenges into one simple, focused vision of the future.