In February of this year, I found myself on a Zoom call with Emma Rose Bienvenu, someone I’ve had the pleasure of knowing socially for at least a decade. I consider Emma Rose amongst the most brilliant and accomplished people that I’ve ever met, in a lifetime spent assembling a wonderful network of characters who possess some combination of exactly those traits. The call had been my idea, the cashing in of a favor I accrued some months prior when she had come to me for advice on a matter of very specific and pressing business concern: Joey Krug needed a well-tailored tuxedo, and fast.
This Zoom call took place from Puerto Rico on her end and Madrid on mine, and I was weeks away from turning 40. After completing an MBA at INSEAD, I had spent the last five years building my passion project – a company that took over private estates around the world; French Chateaux, Italian Palazzi, Moroccan Riads et al, from which I led fully curated, all-inclusive, week long adventures for groups of 14-16 fascinating people who had never met until then. I called it The Roving Hotel. It was a dream job. It was magical. It was decadent. It was profitable. And it was a terrible, terrible business model in a global pandemic.
Feeling that this was perhaps a sign from the universe that it was time to get what my father had long referred to as a “real” job, I reached out to a handful of people who were at companies I admired in industries I loved. At the very top of that list was Pantera Capital. I knew then what Pantera did, how well it did it, and how respected it was by its peers. What I wanted to find out was, what was it like? What was it like to be at the heart of arguably the most exciting industry in the world, interacting with its most brilliant founders, helping to find and invest in the people and ideas that would make up the future of finance and technology? In her uniquely assured, rapid-fire staccato, Emma Rose answered all these questions and more. But there was one thing she said that stuck with me more than any other: of everything she had ever done, including her hobbies, there was nothing she had ever enjoyed more than being a part of Pantera Capital.
I have spoken to hundreds of people about their jobs, but it had been years since I’d heard someone speak so passionately and effusively about a company – probably not since a friend was hired at Google in the early 2000’s. The appeal was immediate, but one big question loomed. Could there ever be role at Pantera for someone like me? When I asked about the firm’s hiring needs, roles were rattled off for which I was admittedly unsuited: quants, engineers, platform developers. But then Emma Rose mentioned a particular issue for which Pantera needed a solution. Competition for the best crypto and blockchain technology deals was fierce, and key to winning these deals is finding ways to add tangible value to founders, at scale. Franklin Bi had already done an incredible job building Pantera’s platform team, offering portfolio companies all manners of assistance in scaling their projects. Alongisde all of this, Pantera wanted to add something extra. It wanted to build a thriving community of the roughly two hundred founders it had invested in, creating ways for this chosen, extraordinary group of builders to really get to know one another and interact in ways that went beyond normal corporate networking. The team envisioned a series of unique and exclusive events and experiences, open only to Pantera founders. Things that were memorable, and meaningful, and brought a sense of pride to the founders for being part of that network. Things that made future founders say, “I want to be a part of the Pantera portfolio, because I want to be a part of that.”
As soon as I heard this, I knew this was the role I had been working towards my entire life. Early in my career, I had cut my teeth doing marketing, business development, and client services for a number of luxury brands and industries in New York City; to my mind, Pantera Capital is very much a luxury brand, in terms of exclusivity and regard and the quality of the product it offers. But my real passion had always been and will always remain building meaningful human connections. I owned nightclubs and hosted parties and threw dinners and built a travel company all because I truly love obsessing over every little detail of the atmosphere that brings people together. “The little things are the big things” has long been my mantra, and few things bring me more joy than seeing people go from small talk to real, genuine, lasting connections. My KPIs have never been dollars; they are the photos I have been sent of people who met at something I’d created continuing to catch up all over the world, the invitations to the openings of businesses hatched from conversations we’d provoked, or being asked to godparent a child whose parents I introduced.
And now, as the Head of Community for Pantera Capital, I have the opportunity to help create something truly special for the firm and the founders in our portfolio. Though I haven’t been here long, the interactions that I’ve had with members of the team – Jonathan Gieg, Franklin Bi, Paul Veradittakit, Lauren Stephanian, and John Jonson to name a few – have already made clear why Emma Rose finds Pantera so great. I am constantly awed by the brilliance of our team and of the founders we support. There’s a saying that if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room, and I know that, as long as I am surrounded by this group of colleagues and founders, I will never be in the wrong room. The ideas we have had and plans we have hatched already have us on track to build something unlike any other VC platform. I am thrilled and humbled to be a part of it.