Since founding the firm in 2008, we’ve been building FirstMark in a very deliberate manner. We initially focused on partnering with world class entrepreneurs and cultivating deep bonds of trust. We created a platform that takes the networks & relationships inherent in venture firms and — for the first time — makes them programmatically scalable to our entire portfolio. We conceived and launched what are now the largest meetups in the country around themes like Big Data & AI, Design, Frontier Tech and more. This is an audience that now numbers 30,000+ members and continues to grow rapidly. All the while, NYC has exploded as a place for entrepreneurship. According to CB Insights, investment dollars in NYC has grown 11x since our start in 2008 to over $10.4B in 2016.
With this strong foundation, we are excited to announce Catherine Ulrich is joining FirstMark as a Managing Director. Catherine is a world leading product and technology executive from NYC and is phenomenal in many ways. Here are a few reasons why we are so excited:
She’s an operator and fast-rising superstar. Catherine has seen rapid success and increasing responsibility everywhere she’s worked. Most recently, she was the Chief Product Officer at Shutterstock (NYSE: SSTK), a billion dollar public company in NYC with revenues of nearly $500MM and over 75M monthly visitors. Prior to Shutterstock, Catherine spent 8 years at Weight Watchers where she had a meteoric rise from business analyst to Chief Product Officer, a role that was created for her. During her tenure, she touched nearly every part of the company. This included running financial planning & analysis, diving deeply into digital marketing, building the product team, acting as interim CTO and ultimately being responsible for the global customer experience across all digital and retail products.
She’s a product leader. Product is one of the critical functions in the tech industry. The ability to determine product-market fit, and quickly anticipate changing consumer and business trends is essential for startups and VC alike. Despite its importance, it is one of the hardest roles to find professionals with deep experience—especially in New York. During her time at Shutterstock, Catherine led their move into machine learning and AI based on a deep understanding of their customer needs. At Weight Watchers she led a disruptive digital transformation, morphing the company from a retail-oriented business to digitally driven technology company. Under her leadership, the online business grew from $130MM in revenues to over $500MM. Catherine is a unique trifecta product leader, understanding how to balance customer needs, financial impact, and technology tradeoffs. These skills can be immensely valuable to scaling entrepreneurs.
She has grit. Grit is one of the most important traits of successful people, and Catherine has it in spades. She graduated with a degree in Engineering from Harvard during a time when there were less than 10 women in the major. She was the second woman in the school’s history to be coxswain of the varsity men’s heavyweight crew team: a demanding position that requires early hours, late practices and relentless training no matter the weather. With Catherine at the helm, the team became undefeated national champions. She has a determination to succeed that our entrepreneurs will find inspiring.
Most importantly, she’s the right fit. Venture partnerships are long term; chemistry with our existing team is crucial to success. We spent a lot of time getting to know Catherine: interacting in our Monday meetings, talking through investment opportunities, sharing philosophies on team building, and more. The conversations felt natural and effortless, and early on, we knew this felt like someone we could partner with for a long time to come.
Catherine is a proven leader, a deep product expert, a community builder, and much more. Growing a business deliberately involves a lot of tough choices, but Catherine wasn’t one of them. Welcome, Catherine!
For Catherine’s perspective, click here.