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Meet a VC: Marianne Wu .

Nasdaq highlights the venture capitalists that built the startup landscape we know today. This week, meet VC: Marianne Wu, GE Ventures.

Meet a VC: Marianne Wu

Marianne Wu Meet a VC HeadshotMarianne Wu, Senior Managing Director, Energy & Intelligent Environments, GE Ventures

Marianne leads the Energy and Intelligent Environments investing team at GE Ventures. She is an experienced venture investor, startup executive and management consultant and has spent her career focused on bringing new technology to market. Prior to joining GE, she was a Partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures. Previously, she was VP Marketing at ONI Systems, consultant at McKinsey & Company and started her career as a development engineer. Marianne holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University and is on the advisory board of the University of British Columbia, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Engineering. She has been named one of Silicon Valley’s Women of Influence and has been featured frequently in the press including Fast Company, Forbes, and the LA Times.


How did get your start in the venture capital community?

I got started working on the start-up side. I was an executive at ONI Systems, a great start-up backed by leading investors – Mohr Davidow Ventures and Kleiner Perkins. After ONI went public and then later merged with Ciena, the team at Mohr Davidow invited me to join them. I thought it was a tremendous opportunity to work with leading start-ups driving broad industry change.

What’s a day in your life as a VC like?

It’s always a mix and there’s no standard day but the core activities include: working with portfolio companies, seeing and evaluating new companies, working with my fantastic investing team, meeting with other VCs and industry leaders, and speaking at / convening / attending industry events. As a corporate investor, there’s also a healthy mix of meeting with our business unit teams to partner on strategy and drive scale for our portfolio companies.

How many companies have you invested in and what is your overall investment?

My investment portfolio at GE includes over 30 companies and I have personally led investments in ~15 companies. These represent total invested capital of ~$200M.

My team focuses on investments around the theme of digital disruption of industry. The industrial sector is still largely untouched by technology and the industry is ripe for the same disruption that has occurred in consumer and enterprise. We focus on horizontal IoT technologies including sensors and edge computing and applications in energy, smart buildings and cities, mobility and transportation, and natural resources.

What stage do you focus on and how much capital do you look to deploy for each portfolio addition?

In Energy & Intelligent Environments, we invest across a pretty broad range of stages but in general the company has reached commercial stage when we invest. On the earlier side, we may invest when there is a MVP and early traction or on the later side, when the product is more mature and the company is scaling revenue.

What matters to you most when evaluating a company as a potential fit for your firm and how does that relate to the ambitious companies that you have worked with in the past?

We always evaluate companies on the basics: strength of team, size and readiness of market, strength of product and value proposition, key financial metrics. In general, the management team is the single most critical factor – they hire the team, build the investor syndicate and board, pick the market and execute the product and commercial strategy. They need to be great partners for customers and investors alike. They also need to be have a breadth of skills – both visionary and tactical, stubborn and agile and they need to be resourceful and tenacious.

What advice do you offer to a first-time founder?

The journey will likely be longer than you expected and full of surprises so surround yourself with great people. Recruit geat board members that will partner with you. Always be learning and fine-tuning your approach. Enjoy yourself!

What is the one common denominator that stands out to you across all great investments your firm has made during its history?

Great investments have had great teams. They picked markets that were ready for disruption, built products to match the opportunity, and communicated that value to customers and investors. There are always bumps along the way and the great teams are tenacious and resourceful during rough times and adjust and tune their approach as they learn from the market and their customers.

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