In The Room with Mary D’Onofrio

In The Room with Mary D’Onofrio, Partner at Bessemer Ventures Partners

Welcome to our second entitlement of our Movers & Shakers four-part mini-series that highlights young entrepreneurs and influencers shaking up the industry. Madison and Claudia are kicking off Round 2 with Mary D’Onofrio, Partner and Co-Founder of the growth investment practice at Bessemer Venture Partners that mainly focuses on Cloud software investments. In 2021, Mary was named to Forbes 30 Under 30 List in Venture Capital. Before joining Bessemer, Mary worked in Equity Capital Markets at Morgan Stanley and held previous roles at Apple and in the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Mary graduated from Princeton undergrad and holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management.

Mary walks us through the key themes of lessons from working alongside big tech to venture, growth-stage investing and how it differs from early-stage venture, and a discussion around how markets are impacting venture today and trends she’s excited to invest in. Let’s open the door.

Key Theme 1: Lessons from working alongside big tech to venture

At Morgan Stanley, Mary worked with the private capital markets group, raising money for private technology groups like Airbnb and Uber. Mary would then go on to attend Yale Business during which she also worked for Apple focusing on the semiconductor market. After working with all of these great tech companies, Mary realized her passion for tech. These experiences working alongside big tech also taught Mary important deal-making lessons, including how to advise companies during consequential points in their life cycles. Now as a venture capitalist, she is still doing this everyday.

“I think it was really about working with those companies, working with the management teams, building relationships, and then laying out the pros and cons and the different decision levers such that they could optimize for their businesses. That’s really what I took away. I think that those are skills that I continue to put into practice today.”

Key Theme 2: Growth-stage investing and how it differs from early-stage venture

Mary joined Bessemer as the first dedicated growth stage investor at the fund, and in the past four years she’s been at the firm, the team has made around 15 investments totalling about $1.3B under management. In comparing early-stage and grown-stage investing, Mary says that factors of team, TAM, product roadmap, and other key early-stage questions are still as important. The difference lies in the narrowed competitive landscape, and Mary’s job is to pick out the defining characteristics between a smaller group of companies. Another difference is whether a company can scale to 100. Mary answers this question with significant financial data, and because Beessemer’s team especially invests in cloud and SAS, they are especially interested in the opportunity to distribute capital into a sales and marketing engine and see if it yields actual ARR growth.

Key Theme 3: Discussion around how markets are impacting venture today & trends she’s excited to invest in

With the Bessemer team investing in a good number of technical tools, Mary has noticed that developers are increasingly looking for choice in infrastructure development, whether looking at Cloud, public, or private databases. The rise of security threats and zero trust policies is also shaping approaches to assessing infrastructure. Mary is also seeing a globalization trend of SAS, where Silicon Valley is no longer monopolizing innovation as the rise of massive Cloud companies are popping up around the world.

“We have an office in China, and we think that China is an under-penetrated market for Cloud. We also have an office, a relatively recent office in Europe led by my partner, Alex Ferrara. We’ve had fantastic outcomes come out of there too.”

Thanks for tuning in! Catch three more episodes of Movers & Shakers before we resume our regular scheduled programming with Season 6 of The Room Podcast.

Listen to this episode now live on all podcast streaming platforms, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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