Aileen Lee has attracted widespread attention for coining the term “unicorn” in a November 2013 TechCrunch article about billion-dollar companies. But industry insiders were aware of Lee well before then.
A graduate of M.I.T. and Harvard Business School, Lee began her career as a Silicon Valley investor in 1999 when she left her job in brand and product marketing at Gap Inc. to join the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
The position, at that time, was designed to last a couple of years, after which a junior employee like Lee was expected to join an operating company. Instead, Lee was promoted to a more senior role and eventually made a partner, a role that saw her lead numerous interesting deals, including in the flash-sales site One Kings Lane and the high-end clothing company Rent the Runway.
In fact, by 2012, Lee was ready create her own seed-stage fund, Cowboy Ventures . Impressively, she managed to lasso Kleiner as her anchor investor, too. It’s looking like a smart move for Kleiner, to which Lee also remains a strategic advisor. Among Cowboy Ventures’s other promising portfolio companies are Dollar Shave Club; the smart lock company August; and the coffee-shop chain Philz Coffee.
Indeed, given Lee’s extensive experience with nascent startups, we’re very excited to welcome her back to Disrupt to discuss what’s happening at the seed-stage right now – from valuations to signaling risk (a new concern for startups whose seed investors – especially higher-profile investors like Cowboy — don’t follow their money into the Series A round).
To hear all these excellent speakers and more at Disrupt SF 2015 — scheduled September 21 – 23 at San Francisco’s historic Pier 70 – you can purchase tickets (at special early bird prices) right here.