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Lynne, what led you to focus on healthcare investing?
If there’s a defining narrative to my career, it’s been the quest to have impact through my work. It was a journey that took me from investment banking to venture capital, nonprofit work and political campaigns. But it was after business school, when I saw a patient procedure with a pacemaker, that I understood how working in healthcare can be impactful and how technology can fundamentally change healthcare. I joined Abbott Vascular to work with these leading technologies and launched 10 medical products all over the world. I led strategy and execution from R&D phase to commercialization, getting products to market that improved people’s lives. Bringing this operational experience to help founders and CEOs of our portfolio companies build impactful companies that will change healthcare is an honor.
You were a VC early, then worked in healthcare. Why return to venture capital?
In 2013, when I joined Kleiner Perkins, I saw how the reimagination of healthcare was inevitable. The Affordable Care Act was fundamentally shifting healthcare delivery. SAAS and mobile technology had become firmly entrenched in other fields, but with little effect in healthcare. The confluence of these events made it a great time to focus on healthcare innovation—and for me to return to venture capital.
What do you like about working with entrepreneurs?
Collaborating with founders to figure out how to take an idea and scale it to commercial success is the most rewarding role I have ever had. The diverse experiences of my early career gave me the tool kit to help entrepreneurs—and the empathy to understand the challenges they face.
How did your parents affect your development as an investor?
My mother was a pioneer at Anheuser-Busch where she worked for 25 years, leading the company’s entry into China and forming a new business in the China market. My father was a small-business entrepreneur. He and I loved to play a game of “Why?” where we would walk into a business and talk about why things worked the way they did and whether they could be improved. It was pretty good training for a future venture investor.
As a kid, you were passionate about riding horses. Did that shape your view of risk?
Sitting on the back of a 1,000-pound animal capable of speeds up to 30 miles per hour, you can’t be timid. You must connect with the horse and develop mutual trust to be successful. There is always a chance of falling off; I had my fair share of landing in the dirt. It’s just like being an entrepreneur. There will be times when you fall, but you’ve got to dust yourself off and get back in the saddle.